I'm currently looking for both postdoc position(preferred) and industrial position in areas where I'd need to do programming in the language(s) my lab/company will need me to. The academic areas I'm looking for are computer vision, computational neuroscience etc.

However, my Ph.D. was in pure mathematics and I didn't write a single piece of code. In my current postdoc, I'm programming but so far don't have a published result that clearly demonstrates my coding skills (in matlab). Given this situation, how can I best demonstrate my coding skills in my CV? I mean, evryone will write: "Programming languages known: a,b,c" etc. But I'm not sure (I might be wrong) that's enough? So how could I best demonstrate that I know decent matlab and I can build algorithm?

One idea that's occurring to me is to make a paragraph named "programming experience" after "programming languages known", saying for example, "I numerically solved the differential equation (*) in this language: code available upon request".

I'd appreciate your opinion, thank you!

  • 3
    Add a website to your CV header, preferably in a noticeable parameter, such as your name, put those projects into your website under the portfolio section. Here be mine. albertkung.com/#portfolio I was stuck in the job market for almost a year. The month I put my website up, 4 interviews, all of which commented on my well-designed website, and then 4 offers. – Compass Jul 15 '15 at 19:27
  • Part of your question is about a CV for industry which is off-topic for this site. – Enthusiastic Engineer Jul 15 '15 at 19:28
  • 2
    Maybe a bit off-topic, but I would advise against calling Matlab a programming language in your CV - it is a scripting language, and you might upset some very peculiar people if you claim it to be a programming language. As for an on-topic advice - I would put it under your current employment/project experience as part of what you did. – Mewa Jul 15 '15 at 21:31
  • 1
    Also, instead of saying you solved a math equation in code, if you want to demonstrate that you have coding knowledge it's probably best to talk about the the actual skills involved with coding (writing functional arguments, loops, vectorizing code, whatever...) - this demonstrates knowledge. I guess as an example: "I ran non-linear regressions in X program" is bad vs. "I used X program on data of size X to solve X problems, wrote functional arguments to streamline future analyses, vectorized code to reduce computational time by a X%. A CS major probably would say it better than I just did. – bfoste01 Jul 17 '15 at 13:37

I would recommend not trying to use the same document to apply to qualitatively different positions. Typically, companies do not want a CV, they want a resume. Prepare a resume following industry standards, which includes your skills, programming languages, etc., and use that for your industry applications, while you use your CV to apply for postdocs.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    I thought "CV vs resume" is "English English vs American English"? – qsp Jul 15 '15 at 22:00
  • I kinda thought so too...but apparently there're webpages stating the differences between the two! – Science Man Jul 15 '15 at 22:07
  • 2
    In the United States, at least, the two are starkly different; I do not know about other countries. – jakebeal Jul 15 '15 at 22:12
  • In the usage I'm accustomed to, "CV" is the general term, and its length can be anything from one page to tens of pages. "Resume" is a more specific term with a strong corporate flavor. There are probably major regional differences in the usage of the terms, which is why people should not assume any specific meanings in an international context such as the Internet. – Jouni Sirén Jul 18 '15 at 18:13

One possibility is including links to projects and code that you wrote. For example on github, or you might have a Matlab Central profile where you uploaded functions that you wrote (it helps if you can show lots of downloads and good ratings).

Of course if you have a Stack Overflow profile in good standing it might help in circles where it is recognized.

You might also want to use wordings found in this Programmer Competency Matrix to state specific aspects of programming that you already master.

| improve this answer | |

If you contributed in any way to a major piece of work involving programming/scripting languages, I would put that on your CV as its own paragraph with a VERY short description of it and how you contributed. Since you mention your background in math, consider how that played into the project. Did you implement any algorithms or help a "main" programmer understand a particular equation so they could use it? Perhaps you searched for different mathematical methods for solving your problem and had to consider their relative merits before choosing which would be most appropriate. While often overlooked, these are incredibly important tasks for software design. This becomes especially valuable if you are considerably stronger in this area than those in the group you intend to work with.

A code portfolio will also become almost mandatory as others have mentioned.

| improve this answer | |

All coding projects should go on Github. If not just for best practices, it's really the only way to demonstrate your ability within and across languages. Don't upload data, obviously, but unless you are working on proprietary CS concepts or algorithms, I don't understand why there would be an issue posting your code. Then just link to your Github account in your CV, along with the obligatory "languages known" clause in the CV. I've got a hyperlink in my CV that has done it's job, because despite being much junior in rank than you, it was responsible for landing me a short term government gig as a contractor.

| improve this answer | |

When somebody applies to a position in academia; he may have to present some recommendation letters from professors with whom he have worked or from his past employers. So, your current postdoc mentor or a professor with whom your have worked before may be able to state and indicate in your letter of recommendation (if he is writing one for you) that you have some experiences of programming when you had worked or did research under their supervision. In this case, I encourage you to consult with the people writing recommendations for you about how they can include something about your programming activities under their supervision in their letters of recommendation.

Also, if you have passed some programming courses or did teaching assistance for programming courses in your university or research institute, these can also be considered as proof of your programming knowledge.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I've never heard about recommendation letters from past employers in industry. At least in US, there are possible legal consequences, so every employer I know will limit reference info to positions held and dates of employment. – Sergii Dymchenko Jul 15 '15 at 22:30
  • 2
    In some other countries, employers are legally required to give a certificate of employment, which is quite similar to many letters of recommendation. – Jouni Sirén Jul 16 '15 at 9:20
  • Ditto: No one asks for letters of recommendation in American industry. A phone call might be as far as it gets, even then I doubt HR departments would deal with needing to get on a PIs calendar for a chat, they'd just move to the next contact. Defamation lawsuits should be a real concern. In academia the letter of recommendation is everything. I often wonder with an advisor with no industry contacts/experience, what's the point of even putting person as a reference? They likely wouldn't no how to interact with that context. – bfoste01 Jul 17 '15 at 13:32
  • With respect to all the points above, I indicate that my answer is for a person seeking a position in academia. Also, I repeat that questions about employment in industry and non-academic positions are off-topic to this site. – Enthusiastic Engineer Jul 17 '15 at 18:20
  • @EnthusiasticStudent- you might want to edit your answer, as you brought industry into the mix: "When somebody applies to a position in academia or industry;" – bfoste01 Jul 18 '15 at 4:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.