Step 3: Preparing an application package

Gather information for your CV (academic positions) or resume (all other positions).  You will want to tailor this document for the position for which you are applying.  Canned resumes and CVs are quickly spotted and often just as quickly discarded.  Use your cover letter to highlight your qualifications (the ones mentioned in the job ad).  It is better to demonstrate your qualifications than to state them.  This means that you describe your experience that demonstrates you have the qualifications sought, and not just state that you have the qualification.   If the position requires communication skills, mention the presentations you have made and make sure that the documents you submit demonstrate your skills.  Take some time to reflect upon what you bring to the job and to assess your strengths and weaknesses.  Aristotle said that knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.  He could have also said that it is an important step in any job search!   

You’ve got skills that will benefit your future employer.  Your task is to present your skills on your resume or CV with the appropriate terms.  There is a list below of skills often possessed by Physics graduates.  This list is just to get you thinking about what you might include.  If you include any of these skills on your resume or CV, be sure to be able to give an example in your cover letter or in an interview that demonstrates how you used that skill.

·        Solve technical problems, think critically

·        Work on a team

·        Technical writing

·        Knowledge of physics

·        Perform quality control

·        Use specialized equipment

·        Programming

·        Advanced math

·        Simulation and modeling

·        Computer administration

·        Managing people and budgets

·        Analysis and quantitative reasoning

·        Communicating complex ideas

·        Conducting independent research

When you make the short list for a position you will likely be asked in for an interview.  Preparation is the key to a good interview.  Again, you want to be able to provide examples that demonstrate your qualifications at every opportunity.  For example, if you are asked about computer programming, instead of simply listing the names of programming languages, provide the exposure you had to each programming language (courses taken, projects accomplished, etc).  This will do a better job of informing your interviewers about your level of ability and how you can help them solve their problems.  A Google search on interview questions will give you an idea about the kinds of questions you should prepare for.

The search for a job is different for everyone.  Much of your success will be determined by the work you put in to the task and how early you start the process.  Hopefully the information on these pages will help you determine the steps you need to take to conduct a job search that will help you make the most of your degree in physics.