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Ask HN: Should I hide medschool on my CV?
10 points by throw-medschool 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
I am looking for a job in InfoSec and have applied for multiple positions but am being ignored by HRs. A friend of mine that works in a company I applied to says their HR didn't like that I'm studying medicine right now as that means I'll have less time to spend on the job. That's despite them offering part-time and flexible jobs and having a few IT students employed already.

I have worked as a sysadmin for five years and have wide experience with web, mail and db services, both Linux and Windows Server, have designed and deployed security solutions and carried out incident response. I'm also currently working as a developer in a Fortune 500 company. InfoSec was always my target over these years and I was choosing jobs specifically to gain experience in wide range of technologies. I went to pentest courses, have pretty good understanding of defensive strategies (threat modeling, identification of trust boundaries), follow InfoSec news - I feel qualified for a junior position.

Medicine is a fun hobby of mine and it didn't in any way interfere with jobs I had before (I'm a third year student). It actually taught me time management instead. But should I maybe hide it from my next employer? I live in a small European city and there aren't many options left, I'll have to apply for a regular dev position next.

Why your friend doesn't recommend you to some engineering manager? Technical people need you, not HR. Find other ways to get in. Here is my rank of a contact importance:

1) Be an employee already - internal transfer, but needs to get any other role first.

2) Get personal recommendation by employee.

3) Be person known in industry - an author, contributor, speaker.

4) Be one who had first direct contact with company's engineers - meetups, beer chat etc, tweeter chat, forums, Slack, github issues discussion.

5) One has common friends with company's employee but without personal recommendation.

6) University, prominent company alumni - MIT, FAANG, but also local universities included.

7) Proven agency contractor - recommended by trusted recruiter.

8) Stuffed LinkedIn profile - meat for recruiters and agencies.

9) Cold lead CV application sent to company's HR or recruitment agency.

Closer to 1st, they will less care about your schools in CV.

Try leaving it off. If it's not going to interfere with your normal work hours it shouldn't be an issue. It's non-tech related so if you don't see it as a positive leave it off. A lot of times people won't list an area of study till it's completed.

Reach out to your network. It's a lot easier to get the attention of HR if you have a connection inside the company recommending you to HR and their boss.

It's a lot harder to get hired in without having a connection vs someone recommending you.

InfoSec can be hard to get into. Especially for a junior role, they will likely have hundreds of applicants for that role.

You can't be sure that the medicine degree is whats getting you rejected but a lot of people will not understand why anyone would be doing something as difficult and time-consuming as a medicine degree when they actually want to work in InfoSec. To be honest, I don't understand it either! I think some people will look at your CV and just think "Somethings not right about this guy".

Also, a lot of employers often have a weird mentality that candidates need to dedicate everything towards their current profession. I've noticed it, because I took spent ~10 months working in InfoSec (I was a developer before) and am now returning to development again. I always get asked "Why did you change from Development to InfoSec" - in a tone that implies "You shouldn't want to do anything else other than development". I also get asked "You're sure you want to be a developer right?". And that is for two extremely similar jobs (I was working in application security) which have a lot of overlap.

I see that as a great filter. Any company who thinks someone who can code and has good security knowledge is a problem, isn't a company you'd want to work for. Security is so overlooked by coders it is not funny. And who is to blame them, if they are being measured on speed not quality. Having you in a team potentially means through osmosis having an entire team clued up on security issues a year later. It is such a win.

Also... coders who have done other non tech stuff as a career I've found to be great to work with.

You have run afoul of one of the 3 prime questions: Will you do the job?

The question 'will you do the job?' is about your passion for the job advertised. Even if it is a low minimum wage job, companies like to think you will never leave. Being in med school, shows 2 problems: 1) you care about something other than InfoSec 2) you are just looking for a paycheck until you become a doctor and leave.

So yes I would hide it, your CV is an advertisement, not a confessional.

Thanks for the advice! Yes, I am passionate about InfoSec and no becoming a doctor is not in my plans.

I'm just a bit surprised HR don't reach out to applicants in such situations and ask about the concerns they have.

> I'm just a bit surprised HR don't reach out to applicants in such situations and ask about the concerns they have

That's an easy one. They don't have any concerns if they're not intending to employ you.

Assuming there are multiple applicants and some pass muster, the applicants that don't aren't very interesting to them. The way to think about it is from their position. They're not trying to hire you, they're trying to fill a position. Your job is to convince them that you're the best person to fill that spot.

Thank you for providing this perspective, I appreciate it. That really makes sense now.

CVs should be tailored to the position. If you are applying to a place where med school helps, include it. If it wouldn't help, exclude it.

I used to be a high school math teacher. I was given the same advice. I left that off my last round of searching for software development roles and it worked great. However, if I were looking at going into an education+software role, I'd include it.

"CVs should be tailored to the position."

Makes sense, but then what's a good way to handle one's linkedin profile? it's the same profile no matter who looks at it. I'm assuming HR people and others will look at my linkedin page after seeing my resume.

Don't think HRs will look much on LI, it is not mandatory to keep it stuffed. Keep some keywords which match with your target role. When recruiters find you by LI keywords anyway they will ask you to send them CV by email.

If possible avoid reaching to company by HR. First find someone you may know who works there. Check if company takes part in some meetups etc, talk with technical people first - they need you.

From the title, I assumed you go to med school to eventually become a doctor. I suppose HR employees might make the same assumption. If it's just a fun hobby, why include it at all in an employment-related CV?

Yep, it's just a hobby that I started when I had too much time on my hands (education is free in my country). I don't plan to actually becoming a doctor.

Thank you everyone for your answers, I suppose I had a wrong impression about what CVs are. Thinking about them as a personal advertisement is an interesting revelation for me.

You went into medicine as a hobby ? Strangest thing I've heard all year.

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