When reviewing hundreds of applications, search committees quickly look for publications and groups the applicant has worked in to make the short-list.

I had a successful but unusual career, working in industry, successful startup, and even extraordinary educational programs.

How can I make my CV attract to persuade the committee to stop by and find the significant of my uncommon works?

  • 1
    Related (but not specifically for someone coming from industry): academia.stackexchange.com/q/41962/19607
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 15:12
  • What kind of faculty position are you looking for? A research position? A teaching position? What those schools want is quite different.
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 15:13
  • @Kimball assistant professor of chemistry
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 15:33
  • Tim, at what kind of school? Research? Teaching?
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 17:29
  • @Kimball something in between. A normal university with both research and teaching themes.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Most applicants for an assistant professor position will have a PhD and some postdoc experience, and (hopefully) a solid line of publications in their main research line.

It is unfortunately not universally agreed what constitutes a "successful" career. So, if you are several years past your PhD, as a search committee member I would want to see what you had done in the intervening time, and I would want to know it was relevant to what you want to do now. You need to be able to reassure the committee that you are still an active researcher, you are still respected by other academics, and that you are (or could become) a competent teacher. The problem with CVs is that just listing a job title does not quite convey what is entailed there. How would I know how to evaluate your "extraordinary education program" just from a few lines on the CV? (I'm certainly not going to look at it, I have 100 other applications to read through.) Are you up-to-date enough for university teaching?

The real place to make your case for this is in your research statement or cover letter. That is where you can explain your unusual background, presenting it as a strength that makes you stand out above other candidates. You can describe your industry experience, framing it in terms of how this has aided your development as a teacher-scholar, and you can describe the principles and outcomes of the educational programs you were involved in.

An additional strategy would be to ask one or more of your referees to discuss your background in their letter. It could be beneficial to the search committee to have an outside opinion, from a real academic, that someone who may look unusual is actually really good.

So, is there anything you can do for your CV itself? Well, make sure the list of publications is solid. That's among the best evidence for a search committee that you're an active researcher.

  • The real place to make your case for this is in your cover letter. — On the search committees I've been on, what we really look at is the candidate's research statement: this is a great place to elaborate on how one's "unusual" experiences inform their research agenda, for example.
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 17:28
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    @MadJack Good call. I was thinking of jobs which don't request a separate research statement (i.e. it's implicit in the cover letter), but you're absolutely right. I've edited the answer to reflect this.
    – rturnbull
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:38
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    In my experience, the real places to make your case are in your recommendation letters (where you have to rely on your references to make the case) and your professional web site, on which you make all your publications freely available. But don't screw up the research statement.
    – JeffE
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:03

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