I'm going through the process of adapting my academic CV to an industry resume. In particular, I'm aiming for a position with a well-known and highly competitive American company.

I've worked in several research groups in Europe that are extremely well-known and prestigious in the specific area, but most likely are unknown to an outsider.

Should I put a footnote somewhere in the resume to highlight the importance of these groups? If yes, how should I phrase it?

  • What makes it prestigious? Is it highly competitive? Take in the most grant money? Won a lot of prizes? May 9, 2020 at 16:47
  • @MatthewGaiser The principal investigators of these groups are the most accomplished scholars in the field; as a result, the group has the most grant money, extremely competitive selection processes for new members, and -- of course -- great publications.
    – Zac
    May 9, 2020 at 17:06
  • Are the institutions and researchers unknown to Wikipedia? May 9, 2020 at 17:09
  • @PatriciaShanahan Yes, you can find most of these principal investigators on Wikipedia.
    – Zac
    May 9, 2020 at 17:13
  • @PatriciaShanahan And, of course, the institutions are also on Wikipedia.
    – Zac
    May 9, 2020 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


If I were reading a resume and cared at all about the reputation of a person or institution I did not recognize I would pay little attention to a footnote that might be biassed and instead would do my own Internet search.

However, you are in effect asking potential employers to give weight to other people's opinions of your abilities in an unrelated field. Most of your resume should be about your own accomplishments, and how the skills they demonstrate will translate to the job for which you are applying.

  • Unfortunately if your cv is filtered through a low level HR Executive you may get binned - I think the happened for an application I had to a FANG where hr was in Spain and did the filtering - they are not going to know Cranfield University rep for RnD May 10, 2020 at 20:39

As somebody who is partially responsible for hiring scientifically oriented people into technical positions inq industry:

  • Unless there is an objective criteria to a freshly set up program, just mention the name of the university. What you could write is "Phd program by government, acceptance rate 1%" if you have the feeling that it's really not known well enough.

  • Don't go for the prestige of your organization, go for your results obtained.

  • Keep it short: I typically appreciate if people mention h index, cumulative impact factor, number of project applications involved as co-author, and a list of their most important publications.

Whatever you do, show that mainly results/achievements (publications/successfully set up labs) matter to you. When you tell the story don't say: "i wanted to go to the prestigious university since it is easier to get a job later", but say "I aimed for good publications, and the level of research at university x was excellent in the field".


It depends a lot on what you have there.

If something is very prestigious, it should be known to those reading your CV without you adding footnotes.

If you worked for very well-known institutions and now add footnotes or similar explanations, you risk coming across as patronizing. Your readers may think you are taking them for idiots. Normally, people with several years in any industry know its main institutions, schools and similar. Just as everyone is Europe has heard of Harvard, most educated people in the US have heard about Cambridge.

On the other hand, if you're applying in a different field, unrelated to your prestigious work history, then the fact your past employers were prestigious probably won't impress anybody. Adding footnotes might make you come across as delusional, stressing something meaningless in the field you are applying in.

You might add a short explanation next to the institution, but should check twice whether the two risks described above aren't valid in your case. If you chose to do so, only add very short, objective assessments (e.g. by adding some source of your claim) without referring to the institutions as being prestigious or considered the best. Make it as fact-based as possible.

  • Thanks. Risk n. 1 does not apply: these research institutes are only known within the field (it's not something like Harvard or Oxford, which are known across the board to non-experts). Risk n.2 definitely applies: my previous experience has nothing to do with the new target position.
    – Zac
    May 9, 2020 at 17:10
  • Yes, if it's not relevant to the position applied for don't unduly highlight it. And if it was relevant it shouldn't need to be highlighted in a small niche field.
    – Kilisi
    May 9, 2020 at 22:41
  • some 22 yo old in HR won't know that especially if its in another country eg the significance of going to ENA in France May 10, 2020 at 20:41

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