I want to research as a PhD student after several years of being away from academia but am unsure which non-academic positions to include, how many of them, and how to describe them: The PhD will be related very closely to informatics/computer science and my industry jobs were related to software development, but I've found out that computer science research and industrial software development have hardly anything in common with each other. Moreover, I've worked as a freelancer in addition to having proven myself to be a job hopper, so I don't even have the space to list every project I've worked on.

The question of "Should I mention industrial experience in an academic CV when applying for a PhD?" has already been asked, but there still remains the question of what exactly "relevant industrial experience" entails.

Previous attempts

Software-development bucket list

First, I simply tried listing all of my major projects which either lasted a long time or which I felt "proud" about. However, this means that my CV is ridiculously long and has a lot of stuff which has nothing to do with each other. This attempt was not successful at getting an offer or even many interviews; Apparently, just because a job has to do with programming, doesn't mean that professors care about it.

Topical bucket list

Next, I tried pruning the jobs which didn't have a direct technological/methodological link to the PhD I'm applying for: For example, if the PhD is related to pattern recognition in bioinformatics, I would list jobs for which I used some sort of machine-learning library even if it wasn't for bioinformatics; If the PhD is related to pattern recognition in blogs, however, I would not only list jobs related to ML but also jobs related to general web-application development under the assumption that making websites means that I might know more about how to work with web data. Currently, this iteration has not (yet) proven to be successful, either.

  • I think your other question is more important than this one. Once you know the answer to the other one, the answer to this one would become obvious. – scaaahu Apr 29 '16 at 8:32
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    The application may not give you a choice. My PhD application in 2001 was required to list every job I had held since getting my bachelor's degree in 1970. My first job, writing management sciences applications in an assembly language using punch card input, was of dubious relevance, but had to be listed anyway. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 29 '16 at 8:47

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