Resume and Biosketch Building
What does a good academic resume do for you?
A good CV is your first impression to prospective employers and a “living document” that keeps track of your accomplishments. You should be updating your CV continually as things happen, not once a year to make sure you are capturing all your achievements. You will find you need a CV for other purposes as well, such as for creating biosketches for grant submissions, and for promotion or tenure.
Top Tips to Writing a Great CV
There are plenty of websites that offer generic advice about writing a good CV – we have linked some of these in the “useful resources” section below. So we won’t go over these tips again, instead we have given you some things to think about that are specific to being an early career researcher.
- Let’s start at the beginning
The first page: Don’t put “CV” in huge letters, we know what it is. Instead, bold your NAME so whoever reads you CV will remember it. Start with education, degrees, and then training. We suggest adding your mentor/chair/director’s name to your training information, especially if they are well known and well regarded.
- Mission/Career goal statement?
Somewhere you have to tell prospective employers what YOU want. You can document this as a career goal statement at the top of the first page of your CV, for example: I am looking for a position as a vascular neurologist at a high‐volume academic institution that will allow me to pursue my research interests, as well as see a wide variety of patients and continue to teach students and residents. However, this can also go in your cover letter, as long as it is somewhere it doesn’t matter!
Researcher? Your research projects and publications come next
Clinician/educator? Your clinical activities and teaching activities come next
You may want to have more than one version of your CV, with different focuses, that you can use for different purposes.
What is the best way to list your research projects? List each individually and these are the important things to include:
- Name of project
- Dates of your participation and your role
- Funding mechanism, esp if it’s your funding
- A brief blurb about the project
How should you list publications? Always use the actual reference format if possible
- Last name, first initial (no degrees)
- BOLD your name so it stands out
- “accepted for publication, Stroke 7/14”
- Epub dates and final date of publication
- PMID number
You can also consider adding a “total tally” like this: PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS (22 first author, 19 senior author, 76 secondary author, 1 international guideline statement)
- Finally, you need other people to review your CV – the first draft is never perfect!
Have a mentor or colleague look at it. This is incredibly important. You want your first draft to come back completely marked up. Ask to see your mentors CV – this will give you an idea of phrases and formats that have worked for this. It is also as important is to have someone from outside your field review it – remember that chairs and prospective employers won’t necessarily understand abbreviations and field‐specific conferences. This external opinion can provide much-needed perspective.
Top Tips for Creating a Biosketch
How is a biosketch different than a CV?
A biosketch is limited to research information, rather than your whole career. It is briefer than a full CV, although you will draw the information to complete a biosketch from the information on your CV. The NIH require a biosketch for PIs or project directors, and usually for all key personnel listed on an application.
- Use the most current template (can be downloaded from https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm ).
- Read the instructions (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/forms-e/general/g.240-r&r-seniorkey-person-profile-(expanded)-form.htm#Instructions for non-fellowship grants)
- You might this video helpful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8hPR-cPxU
- The historical background that frames the problem
- The key findings
- Influence of the findings on progress of science
- Your specific role in the work
Tailor your PERSONAL STATEMENT to the grant that you are writing. What is the big problem you’re trying to solve (long‐term) and why? How does your training put you into a great position to do the research at hand, specifically? What other strengths do you bring to the project that wouldn’t otherwise apparent from your lists of positions and qualifications? Use this space if you wish to explain factors that affected your past productivity, such as family care responsibilities, illness, disability, or military service. Indicate whether you have published under another name. Be accessible: use the first person. Show passion and excitement
Contribution to Science
Instead of giving them all your publications, you need to list up to five of your most significant contributions to science. For each of these you will need to describe:
Each one of these contributions should be no more than half a page, including figures and citations. For each, you may cite up to four publications or research products that are relevant to the contribution. Do not exceed the number of publications per contribution. According to the NIH, using this format emphasizes accomplishments ahead of publication numbers.
But I’m an Early Career Researcher! What Can I Talk About?
We know that it may be hard for early career researchers to complete a comprehensive biosketch, so there are some things to bear in mind that will help you put this together. Firstly, review your CV and your research projects. Have a think about what the team did and what you did. What did you learn from your role?
Secondly, it’s fine as an early career investigator to NOT have 5 contributions. Most early career researchers will only have 2 ‐ 3 at most, so complete as many as you can.
Finally, you want to come off as confident… not arrogant! Make sure the magnitude of your accomplishments align with your tangible contributions and never misrepresent any facts. If in doubt, you should lean towards humility. But be sure to state your case clearly so they understand you! Having someone external review your Biosketch before you submit is key to getting the right balance and ensuring you are understood.
Reusing Biosketches? Some Things to Consider...
Keep the same format for all references and include PMIDs. Check that the references are updated (mistakes we’ve seen include “Epub ahead of print, 2015” or “in press, 2016” in 2018).
Read biosketches of all co-investigators to make sure that they are not being recycled from previous grant submissions and mention other people names or irrelevant projects.
Check the end dates of the current grants to make sure that they did not expire
Link to a Mount Sinai sample CV template
This template has been designed by the Department of Medicine for promotion from assistant to associate professor in the clinician-investigator track. This is only a sample, but may offer you a helpful place to start. Developed by Jenny Lin, MD and Michelle Kim, MD, PhD and used here with permission.
<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8hPR-cPxU” <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8hPR-cPxU” sample CV-Investigator