With no publications or awards, how can I make my CV look better?

posted
18-Jun-20, 21:17
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
I'm in my 3rd year and entering the writing stage from this September, so now I'm thinking about applying for postdoc positions. I'll be running out of money in September/October, so I hope to find a postdoc and start to work during my writing period cos I'm money hungry.
I've seen a few ads, and they require 'a publication list'. I'm very upset about this. I'll have no first-authored papers out of this PhD, but will have three co-authored papers. All three are being written, but none of them has been submitted yet. So can I list them in my 'publication list' in my CV? If not, then will I be eliminated from the game at the very beginning?
All the group mates of my year have a first-authored paper already published, and they're also looking for postdocs in this field, so I'm kind of worried - one published 1st authored vs three unpublished co-authored, am I at an advantage or disadvantage?
Also, I've got no prize or award during my PhD. By comparison, all the other group members have got a poster/talk prize at a conference. Does this put me at a disadvantage if I compete with them for the same position?
So if I have no publication no award how should I make my CV look better? Is there anything else I should stress, eg a detailed description of my research project? Or is there anything I can do in the coming months that can be added to my CV and makes my CV look more competitive?
posted
19-Jun-20, 09:38
edited about 6 seconds later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 2 weeks ago
First of all, be very careful about taking a post-doc role while writing up. Post-docs can have a lot of work to do, not a typical 9-5. Secondly, A lot of PI (and uni rules) need you to have your viva done to offer a position, or show that you have submitted, and will be completed in 6 months. Check the rules out of where you applied to. Personally I undertook a technician role, prior to my postdoc, one to get more experience and so that I had a better chance of getting accepted.

On to your CV. I wouldn't put the paper down until they're at least under review somewhere. Having co-authored papers is better than nothing- for these of your CV, I would highlight the contribution you made to each. If you have attended conferences, maybe highlight that. I would add a small description of your projects, and give the skills/techniques you have learnt. Remember you will have to change your CV and cover letter to each job application.
In terms of anything you can do .. can you get a paper out as 1st author? Depending on your area of study will depend if they what you to have a paper published before you postdoc, I know my PI doesn't take any postdocs who haven't pubhlied at least once (Be it as a 1st or co-author). Check and see what skills you have and what you may need for the postdocs you're interested in. Can you do some outreach activities that might look good on your CV?
Hopefully that might be of use
posted
19-Jun-20, 12:56
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Yes, and I'd add any teaching and talks and posters too. Also don't forget to consider applying for research assistant posts too. There's no harm in that. Also, make your personal statement / cover letter absolutely stellar by clearly demonstrating how you meet the job criteria. You could also mention your planned publications here too, if relevant.
posted
19-Jun-20, 16:48
edited about 18 minutes later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 weeks ago
Do awards matter at all? Like seriously what does getting a presentation or poster award say about your research skills, other than you can give a good presentation? Universities want to post-docs to primarily do research and your ability to present has no bearing on that. Yes it is nice but not critical.

Academics want post-docs that could do good research independently. I agree with the other posts that you can tailor your CV for better chances. Generally PIs look for postdocs with skills that they or their group lack but need. So consider what unique skill(s) or experience that you have that would add significant value to the post doc.

Also, have you talked with your supervisor about post-docs? If the PI knows your supervisor you may have a better chance of getting the post-doc or at least an interview based of your supervisor. Maybe hint to them to reach out and inquire on your behalf.
posted
19-Jun-20, 17:33
edited about 17 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Awards can set you apart. But I still think the personal statement can be a killer.
posted
20-Jun-20, 11:46
edited about 13 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Awards can set you apart. But I still think the personal statement can be a killer.


I agree that awards can set you apart but they have no real bearing on your ability to do research. They are nice but should have little impact on your post-doc job prospects.
posted
20-Jun-20, 12:37
edited about 19 seconds later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From rewt:
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Awards can set you apart. But I still think the personal statement can be a killer.


I agree that awards can set you apart but they have no real bearing on your ability to do research. They are nice but should have little impact on your post-doc job prospects.

I have a few awards from conferences and there not of my CV. My PI of my PhD very kindly reviewed my CV for me for postdocs position, and told me to take them off- its braggy and not essential like what rewt said.
posted
20-Jun-20, 13:19
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hmm, I don't agree. If you get an award you put it on your CV under the award section as far as I'm concerned. They show that you have award winning skills in dissemination, teaching, etc. If they become dated or your career progresses so that you are now at another level and have better things to showcase than the awards, you can remove them. I really don't get the argument for not putting them on - especially if they are prestigious. Perhaps it depends on the department / research area. In mine they are a valuable asset to have on your CV - sort of like getting a distinction.
posted
20-Jun-20, 17:59
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Nead:
A lot of PI (and uni rules) need you to have your viva done to offer a position, or show that you have submitted, and will be completed in 6 months. Check the rules out of where you applied to.

Please don't worry about that. In my group former members got their postdoc positions before they submitted their thesis, so this is not a problem for me. I'd rather do more work than starve.
posted
20-Jun-20, 18:06
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Nead:
On to your CV. I wouldn't put the paper down until they're at least under review somewhere. Having co-authored papers is better than nothing- for these of your CV, I would highlight the contribution you made to each. If you have attended conferences, maybe highlight that. I would add a small description of your projects, and give the skills/techniques you have learnt. Remember you will have to change your CV and cover letter to each job application.
In terms of anything you can do .. can you get a paper out as 1st author? Depending on your area of study will depend if they what you to have a paper published before you postdoc, I know my PI doesn't take any postdocs who haven't pubhlied at least once (Be it as a 1st or co-author). Check and see what skills you have and what you may need for the postdocs you're interested in. Can you do some outreach activities that might look good on your CV?
Hopefully that might be of use


OK...It seems that I can't give them a 'publication list' right now. I do hope the three co-authored papers can be finished soon, but it seems that the first authors are writing slowly...

With most of my data being inserted into other people's papers, I can't have a 1st authored paper out of my PhD. The rest data can't form a whole story on its own.

So I may need to urge them to write papers faster so I can get a co-authored paper out before I can apply for any positions....*Sigh* This is torture. I don't want my fate to be dependent on other people, but my PI arranges so.

Do outreach activities really help? They can't prove that you're a good researcher...
posted
20-Jun-20, 18:16
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Yes, and I'd add any teaching and talks and posters too. Also don't forget to consider applying for research assistant posts too. There's no harm in that. Also, make your personal statement / cover letter absolutely stellar by clearly demonstrating how you meet the job criteria. You could also mention your planned publications here too, if relevant.

I agree that I need to add teaching experiences to my CV. But I'm not sure if PIs care about that. PIs are looking for good researchers not good teachers after all.
In my field I can hardly see any lab hire a PhD graduate as a research assistant. I can see very few ads for research assistants, and even when I saw some, they're always looking for BSc or MSc graduates, not for PhDs.
I think it's a good idea to mention my future publications in the cover letter. But I'm afraid PIs wouldn't be bothered to read my cover letter if they see I have no 'publication list'. I can just hope them to be patient enough to read my cover letter.
posted
20-Jun-20, 18:24
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From rewt:
Do awards matter at all? Like seriously what does getting a presentation or poster award say about your research skills, other than you can give a good presentation? Universities want to post-docs to primarily do research and your ability to present has no bearing on that. Yes it is nice but not critical.

Academics want post-docs that could do good research independently. I agree with the other posts that you can tailor your CV for better chances. Generally PIs look for postdocs with skills that they or their group lack but need. So consider what unique skill(s) or experience that you have that would add significant value to the post doc.

Also, have you talked with your supervisor about post-docs? If the PI knows your supervisor you may have a better chance of getting the post-doc or at least an interview based of your supervisor. Maybe hint to them to reach out and inquire on your behalf.


I know what you mean, but I've got to know some PIs who are looking for good presenters. One of the former PhD students in my lab was a good presenter and got several talk/poster prizes at a variety of conferences during her PhD. Her research work doesn't stand out though. But she got lots of attention from PIs in this field with her outstanding presentation skills. She's already a lecturer now. She spent two years to do a postdoc in Germany and she didn't have any impressive research work during her postdoc either. But a PI impressed with her presentation invited her to take a lectureship and give her very good lab equipment right after she finished her two years postdoc.

I told my PI I want to do a postdoc after my PhD, he didn't say anything. So I'm not sure if he's gonna help.
posted
20-Jun-20, 18:29
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Nead:

I have a few awards from conferences and there not of my CV. My PI of my PhD very kindly reviewed my CV for me for postdocs position, and told me to take them off- its braggy and not essential like what rewt said.

So when you were interviewed, did PIs ask you about awards?
posted
20-Jun-20, 18:32
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Hmm, I don't agree. If you get an award you put it on your CV under the award section as far as I'm concerned. They show that you have award winning skills in dissemination, teaching, etc. If they become dated or your career progresses so that you are now at another level and have better things to showcase than the awards, you can remove them. I really don't get the argument for not putting them on - especially if they are prestigious. Perhaps it depends on the department / research area. In mine they are a valuable asset to have on your CV - sort of like getting a distinction.

In my field people also put talk/poster prizes on their CV. That's why I'm so worried. If my group mates are applying for the same position as I do, the PI will see that all of them have got at least one prize except me - will the PI just delete my application when s/he sees that? Makes me so nervous...I don't know how I can stand out from my rivals.
posted
20-Jun-20, 20:49
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
You can still make your CV and application stand out - by how it is presented and how you write up and address the essential and desired criteria in your statement/cover letter. Also, if you are going for assistant positions too then you have a chance to build up your CV that way - through extra publications and whatnot. Seriously don't worry - although prizes and awards are good they aren't everything, as other folks here have said.

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