Resume Writing Made Simple?

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz, Career Advice

The first step in any job search is to ensure that your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is ready for submission to prospective employers. For those of you who may still be struggling with the difference between a resume and a CV, a resume is usually a 1-2 page synopsis of who you are, where you have been and what you have done. In contrast, a CV is a much longer document that does the same thing as a resume but in much greater and granular detail. For most scientific positions a CV is the preferred document style. However, in some cases, employers may request a resume so pay attention before you submit your application.

While most people believe that a resume or CV is simply a list of your education, skillsets and experience, there is a preferred style, format and way to write a resume/CV that will enhance the possibility of securing a interview for the position. That said, it takes many years of resume/CV writing to perfect the process–something that many of you may not have time to do.  If you are unsure about how to write a resume/CV or have not updated your “paper” in many years, the quickest way to being applying for jobs is to hire a professional resume/CV writer to do it for you.  Generally speaking, this will cost anywhere from $200-$500.  Sadly, many graduate students and postdocs don’t have the money to invest in resume writing and in many cases are unable to craft a job winning resume/CV.

If you are unable to hire a resume writing professional, I came across a DIY solution called Scientific Resumes. Apparently this service company exclusively caters to graduate students and postdocs looking for resume/CV writing help.  In addition to their automated self-help products, they offer resume proofreading services and I suspect customized resume/CV writing too.  I have not used or carefully evaluated their products but it may be worth a visit to their website.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!

Resume Writing: A Great Example

Posted in Career Advice, Uncategorized

I work with a lot of college graduates and graduate students who looking for their first real jobs.  I am frequently asked about the need for a resume vs. curriculum vitae (CV).  Generally speaking, persons in technical fields with advanced degrees ought to only be concerned with CVs (a resume is too short to adequately represent scholastic, research and  technical achievements).  That said, a resume will suffice for 2-and 4-year college grads seeking employment whether inside or outside of their chosen careers.

Over the course of my career, I have reviewed thousands of CVs and resumes.  While I will admit I have seen more CVs than resumes (I am a scientist after all), I recently came across a resume that was excellent and can serve as a resume template (see below) for recent college grads!.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The resume writer used action verbs, great descriptive adjectives and clearly demonstrated his/her qualifications an easy-to-understand and concise manner. Hiring managers love this because they can rapidly determine whether or not a job applicant is a good technical fit for an advertised position.

Resumes that are constructed like this one will likely get to the next level whether that is a phone interview or even an on site one-on-one opportunity.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Posted in Career Advice

While a resume is a mandatory requirement for all job seekers, writing one that ultimately may lead to a job interview remains elusive to many job applicants.  To that point, resume writing is more of an art than a science and it can take many attempts to discover a format that works. Nevertheless, there are several common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume to improve the likelihood of success.

1. Don’t forget to include a “Summary of Qualifications.” Instead of an objective statement at the beginning of a resume, replace it with a “Summary of Qualifications” (SOQ); 3 to 5 sentences that highlight an applicant’s skill sets, experience and personal attributes that help to distinguish her/him from other job candidates. The SOQ ought to be constructed as a “30-second elevator pitch” that cogently describes who you are and the value that you will bring to prospective employers if they hire you.  Don’t be afraid to pepper the SOQ with laudatory adjectives and action verbs.  The purpose of the SOQ is to grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager to continue reading your resume. To that point, it has been reported that hiring managers take between 6 to 30 seconds to review a resume and determine whether or not to move forward with job applicant.

2.  Make sure to include keywords in your resume. Increasingly, many companies are using software and keyword searches to screen the large number of resumes received for individual job openings.  Because of this, it is vital that jobseekers sprinkle keywords throughout their resumes (including the SOQ).  A good way to determine which keywords to use is by reading job descriptions for opportunities that interest you.  After identifying the keywords, make sure to insert them into your resume where appropriate.

3.  One size DOES NOT fit all! It is very tempting to craft a single resume and then submit it for all jobs that interest you.  Unfortunately, this approach is certain to increase the likelihood that your resume will land in the recycle bin. Prospective employers want job applicants to take the time to write a resume that clearly demonstrates how and why they are the right candidate to fill a position in a specific organization. Again, a good way to craft job-specific resumed is to read job descriptions for individual opportunities. Identify the technical skills, educational background and job responsibilities and then create a resume that shows that you meet all of the job specifications and requirements. While this may seem like a lot of work, it is necessary to ensure the likelihood of a successful job search.

4.  Typos and spelling errors are forbidden. Given the fierce competition for jobs in today’s global economy, a single typo can land your resume in the “not interested” pile.  Resumes should be spell-checked for typos and grammatical errors before they are submitted to prospective employers for consideration. It is vitally important to proof read a resume and it is a good idea to allow friends and colleagues to review it as well. A resume is the first exposure of a job applicant to prospective employers and it should be perfect.  Resumes fraught with typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors signal to employers that a job applicant may be careless, not thoughtful and does not take pride in his/her work product.

5.   Keep it simple. There is no need to use special fonts or color in a resume.  It is best to stick to black and white color and use basic fonts like Arial, Tahoma or Calibri with sizes of 11 or 12 pt. Also, it is important not to incorporate long or dense blocks of text into a resume. Dense blocks of text are difficult to read and increase the time hiring managers want to spend reviewing resumes. Instead, concisely describe achievements in 2 to 5 bulleted points per job. Also, be certain to highlight your accomplishments rather than simply listing duties for different jobs. Prospective employers are much more interested in what was accomplished rather than what your responsibilities were. Finally, white space is known to draw readers’ eyes to important points.  Therefore, it is vital that your resume is not cluttered, formatted correctly and contains sufficient white space to invite the reader to read it.

6.  Size does not matter! Urban legend tells us that a resume should be two pages or less in length. In reality, there are no absolutely no rules governing resume length!  The goal of a well crafted resume is to allow prospective employers to determine whether or not a job applicant is qualified for a specific position. While in some cases, a one or two page resume may be sufficient; in others a longer one may be required. That said, generally speaking, shorter is preferred by hiring managers/recruiters (because of the thousands of resumes that they review daily).  However, do not be afraid to craft longer resumes if additional space is necessary to present yourself in the best light to potential employers.

Although, the items mentioned in this post are common resume mistakes, it is by no means a complete list.  However, they are easy to fix.  A good way to test resume effectiveness is to revise an old resume (to fix the above mentioned mistakes) and then apply for different jobs using the old and revised resumes.  If there is an uptick in employer response rates to the revised resume as compared with old one then you are likely on the right track. If not, you may want to seek additional help with your resume writing.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

More Resume Writing Tips: Things That Absolutely, Positively Should Not Appear on Your CV

Posted in BioEducation

There are differences of opinions regarding whether or not to include certain things on a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Some career specialists contend that it is okay to include things like an objective statement, “references upon request”, telephone numbers and hobbies on a CV whereas others do not. That said, most career experts agree that the following SHOULD NOT appear on a resume or CV

  1. Martial status, religious preference or social security numbers (it is illegal in the US to require this information)
  2. Graduation dates from high school, college or graduate/professional school (this allows employers to estimate your age)
  3. Current business contact information (do you want a hiring manager to contact you at work about a new position or monitor your e-mail and phone calls?)
  4. An unprofessional e-mail address (hottie@gmail.com does not send the right message to prospective employers)
  5. Writing in the third person (it is your career and life so write in the first person)

While these recommendations may be obvious to many, they are not so obvious to others, especially people who come from other countries where inclusion of personal information like martial status, nationality, religious preference etc are allowable and in some cases expected.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

 

Dispelling Myths and Urban Legends About Resumes

Posted in Career Advice

Yahoo jobs pointed me in the direction of an article entitled “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job.” Usually these are so-called fluff pieces but after reading this one, I decided that it was one of the more informative articles on job searching that has appeared on the Internet. Rather then filling up the page with descriptive prose and insightful comments from HR professionals and prospective employers, the authors of the piece use quotes from various individuals involved in the hiring process to reinforce or dispel ideas and myths about job hunting. 

The article is divided into three sections: 1) What You Should Know About Resumes; 2) Secrets About The Interview; and 3) Things to Know About Salary Negotiation. Rather then publish them all at once; I will post them in three separate installments so that people at various stages of the job hunting process can read the sections most relevant to them.  

What Jobseekers Should Know About Resumes

1. “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

2. “When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about connections.” –HR director at a health-care facility

3. “If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.” –Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at hrminion.com

4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm

5. “We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com.” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

6. “If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

7. “There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.” –HR director at a financial services firm

8. “I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida* (see footnote)

9. “Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.” –Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. “Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo

*While this may be true for non-scientists, there is no page limit on CVs. That said, the more concise that you are the better off you will be!

Stay tuned for the next installment; Secrets About the Interview

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Curriculum Vitae

Posted in BioJobBuzz

I have been professionally critiquing curricula vita (CV) for scientists for the past 10 years or so. While some are better than others, they all tend to suffer from the same problems and mistakes. This is mainly because scientists, unlike many other jobseekers, are rarely taught the “ins” and “outs” of resume writing. 

 Like anything else, resume writing is more of an art than a science and it takes many years and lots of trial and error to discover a format that works. That said, I found an article written by Charles Purdy, the Editor of Monster Hot Jobs, that offer would-be resumes (CV) writers some useful tips.

In the original article, Purdy offered eight tips for resume writers. However, some of the original eight were not germane to science CV writing. To that end, I pared the list down to five and added my own titles and commentary.

1.  Customize the wording of your CV

An easy way to make sure your resume gets you in the door for an interview is to echo or parrot the language in a job post in your CV. This is because a resume reader—whether human or software-based —will be screening them for so-called “key words.” Failure to include key words in a CV will likely mean that it will be placed in the not interested pile.

Look for ways to creatively use keywords throughout your CV. And yes, for those of you who may be thinking ahead, this means that a new CV will have to be created for every job applied for! You cannot be lazy if you are seriously looking for a job.

2.  Insure the accuracy of CV content

There is a saying among professional recruiters that goes something like “they all lie.” This means that there is a general consensus among recruiters and HR professionals that most jobseekers include “little white lies” in their CVs to bolster their changes of landing a job.

While this practice may have been tolerated in the past, the advent of social media, online background checks and increasing competition for jobs suggests that person who knowingly include false or misleading information in their CVs will suffer the consequences for lying. Nobody is going to hire an individual who has the propensity for not being forthcoming or telling the truth. So, keep it real and honest; or you may find yourself unemployed for a very long time.

3. Objective statements are passé

Honestly, I never truly understood objective statements; especially if they said something like, “to obtain a position as a laboratory scientist.” Well…duh….we know that you want to be a laboratory scientist because you applied for a laboratory scientist position at our company! 

Instead of an objective statement, I highly recommend CV contain a section (at the beginning) called “Summary of Qualifications” or “Personal Profile” This provides jobseekers with an opportunity to tell perspective employers who they are, what they bring to the table and why  they, rather than their competitors ought to be considered for the job. It also allows jobseekers to generously incorporate as many keywords gleaned from the job post into their CVs.

4.  Keep the verbosity down and use exciting and laudatory language

Scientists tend to wax romantically about their work and in many cases are overly verbose when it comes to describing what they have done and where they have been. On the other hand, hiring managers, HR professionals and recruiters don’t have the time or patience to read dense, wordy and often times redundant CVs.

The key to success is to clearly, cogently and boldly express your skill sets, talent and other assets that you will bring to the table if hired at a company. This requires a substantial amount of thinking, time and word-smithing to get it right. In other words, you will have to spend more than 30 min throwing together your CV.

Also, it is vital to construct a CV using action verbs and flowery, laudatory adjectives to sell yourself to prospective employers. Writing in the passive voice is tedious and quite frankly boring. Prospective employers want to hire people, who are confident about their abilities, demonstrate the ability to take control and face challenges without flinching.

Further, I know that we scientists are told not to promote or say exemplary things about ourselves but it is time to get over it; the rest of the job-seeking world does it and we are no different than other persons!

5. Appearance does matter!

Let’s face it: nobody wants to read a densely-packed CV written in 10 pt font. While it is true that content is the most important thing contained in a CV, the way information is presented can influence whether or not a CV is read by a prospective hiring manager or employer.

I generally recommend an open, inviting design that allows a reader to easily find all of the pertinent information about prospective employees.  Truth be told that when I was working as a professional recruiter, I tended to not even look at dense, visually unappealing CVs unless I was desperate for a job candidate.

While I am sure that I missed a few things, these tips will help to improve your CV and possibly lead to gainful employment. Let me know your thoughts!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

The Art of the Job Search for Life Scientists

Posted in Career Advice

I frequently tell persons who attend my career development seminars that looking for a job ought to be a fulltime job in itself. Unfortunately, while this may be accurate, it generally is not feasible for many scientists who are working toward an advanced degree working towards an advanced degree (they are suppose to spend all waking hours in the lab). Increasingly, the life sciences job market is becoming extremely competitive and fierce and gainful employment is much harder to come by than any time in the past. And, regrettably, most life scientists—unlike a majority of their non-scientist counterparts—have little or no training to prepare them to conduct even a basic job search. 

The lack of emphasis on job searching skills (resume writing, interviewing techniques, etc) for scientists is mainly rooted in an urban legend that asserts that a scientists’ worth (and ultimate employability) is contingent upon the quality of “the science that he or she conducts” or put another way “the quality of one’s science will speak for itself.” This attitude suggests that the ability of a scientist to land a job is based almost exclusively on the quality and number of his/her publications. And, perhaps even more egregiously, scientists are taught to believe that self promotion or attempts to market or brand oneself are abhorrent and strictly forbidden. 

Sadly, finding a job in the “real world” requires most jobseekers to develop a strategic plan, network and actively promote themselves to prospective employers. To that end, I found a brilliant and well crafted article by Marat Gaziev entitled “I Asserted Myself, and Got the Job.”

In the article, Gaziev, who is 24 years old and a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, describes his self-discovered and ultimately pragmatic approach that he used to find a job. He nicely expressed the essence of his discovery in the following passage:

“When I was hunting last summer for a job in search engine optimization, I started by applying for positions advertised on major online job boards. I looked for openings in San Diego, where I was living, and used one résumé. I didn’t research the companies or consider gearing the résumé’s focus toward a particular job.

“I got calls from about five niche e-commerce companies, and all wanted phone interviews. The interviewers would tell me to describe what I did at my existing job, which was also in search engine optimization — how to drive more traffic toward a Web site — and I would tell them. Then they’d pose a hypothetical situation and ask me to respond. I’d answer and wait for the next question. I thought that the more questions I answered well, the better my chances of getting a job. But I never got a callback from any of them.

Looking back, I see what I did wrong. I had an outdated way of thinking about the interview process. I didn’t provide any detail, I didn’t talk about how I saw the industry, and I didn’t offer any tips on how they could improve their online presence. I was doing the bare minimum instead of trying to sell myself.

I guess I thought that I had the qualifications and that the interviewers would see them for what they were. But being passive doesn’t cut it. My capabilities just weren’t coming across. “

Later, he describes how he used his changed attitude and new job seeking approach to ultimately land a job at TMP WorldWide, which ironically is the company that owns Monster.com, the job board where he began his original job search!

Gaziev’s article is a MUST READ for all life scientists who are considering careers outside of academia. I suggest that if you follow Gaziev’s advice, your job search may likely be shorter, less stressful and much more successful!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Attention: All Science and Medical Writers–BioInsights Launches the BioWriters Forum

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Medical/science writing is increasingly becoming popular among PhD life scientists are having trouble finding traditional laboratory-based, research jobs. The transition from laboratory research to writing is not an onerous one; especially if you like to write.

As many of you may know, I am a freelance medical/science writer who entered the field about 10 years ago.  Because most freelancers work from home offices, the lack of communication with others can be overwhelming at times. Consequently, many of us subscribe to e-mail-based listservs which allow us to stay in touch with other writers and frreelancers. Most of these medical writing listservs are run and maintained by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). In order to access and participate at the listservs, you must be an AMWA member which costs $145 or more per year.

While the AMWA forums are very popular, AMWA officials assiduously monitors them and at times, restricts some of the content that can be posted. For example, members of the ‘freelance business only listserv’ are strictly prohibited from posting jobs or alerting others to potential freelance opportunities. AMWA officials contends that these posts are inappropriate and disruptive. However, the real reason for the prohibition may be that AWMA operates a separate, fee-based service that allows freelancers to hawk their services.  In other words, allowing  users to mention freelancing gigs or job opportunities on ‘freelance business only’ listserv, could potentially jeopardize an additional AMWA revenue stream.

Occasionally, freelancers like me break the rules (go figure) and mention "hot" jobs or employers who may be looking for writers. I do this because, as a freelancer, I am painfully aware that my success as a freelancer is contingent upon my ability to maintain a regular, ongoing stream of freelance gigs. Unfortunately, the AMWA officers who monitor the listservs (many of whom are not freelancers), don’t understand this. Consequently, repeat offenders– like me–have been threatened with financial sanctions and possible expulsion from the listserv.

Because I don’t like feeling oppressed and being told what to do, I decided to create my own forum where freelancers can freely exchange information, post jobs, alert others about potential gigs and jobs and generally have an open and ongoing discussion about medical and science writing.  To that end I launched the BioWriters Forum about two weeks ago. The forum is hosted by BioInsights, Inc and is sponsored by BioJobBlog and BioCrowd. The forum is free but membership is required in order to participate. Please check it out and join if you like.

For those of you who decide to join, please feel free to send me any ideas, thoughts, suggestions, kudos, kvetches etc, that you may have.  Enjoy!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Freelancing!!!!!!!!!

Employers

 

Suggestions That Can Improve the Quality of Your Resume

Posted in Career Advice

I found an article on the Investopedia.com website that provides some useful tips and ideas on how to improve your resume quality and increase the likelihood of a face-to-face job interview.  Some may be obvious while others are not. 

Nevertheless, they are worth reviewing and using if they may sense to you

1. References Upon Request

There is no need to waste valuable resume space on this outdated section. Employers assume that you will provide references if asked. Instead, keep a separate page with the names and contact information of your references ready to supply to the employer once you have advanced in the interview process.

2. One Resume Fits All

While it is smart to keep a master resume on file, you need to customize it to fit each job for which you apply. Job-seekers who take the time to tailor their resume to the employer’s needs will stand out from the pack. Eliminate the details that don’t apply to the position and emphasize the ones that make you look the most qualified. It might take a little extra time to apply using this technique, but it will be worth it when your interview offers increase.

3. Objective Statement

The professional summary or profile has replaced the objective statement. Employers are focused on what candidates can do for them, not what the business can do for the candidate. You will sell yourself better with a concise bulleted list of the qualifications and accomplishments that make you a match for the position.

4. Single-Page Resume

One of the most touted resume rules is that the document must be one page. Many people will go to extremes to follow this command, resulting in tiny, unreadable font sizes just to avoid having a resume that extends onto the second page.

Unless you are a newcomer to the job market, it is entirely possible that you’ll need more than a page to adequately showcase your skills and qualifications. If you have enough job experience that fits the position, it is acceptable to extend your resume length to two pages. Keep your resume succinct and relevant, but don’t go under a 10-pt. font size.

5. Lack of Social Networking

Websites such as Facebook and Twitter might be considered distractions in the workplace, but they can be an asset on a resume. Employers want to know that applicants are up-to-date with current technology and communication trends. Links to a professional online portfolio, blog or LinkedIn page should be included in your resume header. There is a good chance that employers will do an internet search to find out more about potential employees, so make sure that all of your social networking profiles project a professional image.

6. Too Much Information

It is not necessary to give your life story on a resume. In fact, providing an employer with too much information can be detrimental to your chances of employment. Delete information about where and when you graduated high school. Ditch irrelevant jobs from 15 years ago. Although it was standard practice in some industries years ago, it is now inappropriate to include personal details in a resume such as information about your hobbies, religion, age and family status. Not only does it look unprofessional, but that information could be used to discriminate against you.

An employer will ask if they want to know why you left previous positions, so don’t mention it on your resume. The rule of thumb is to pare down your resume to only include things that show why you are the perfect fit for the specific position for which you are applying.

7. Outdated Terminology and Skills

Skills in obsolete computer software and systems should be removed from your resume. Technical experience is critical in nearly every industry and employers often use technology keywords to find resumes in electronic databases. Listing basic computer skills such as word processing and using an internet browser is not recommended because employers will assume that you have those proficiencies. The job description is the best guide to determine the terminology and technology skills that should show up on your resume.

While I am not totally “down” with the inclusion of social media links on a resume, it’s totally up to you! That said, if you choose to take her advice, I highly recommend that you review all of your online profiles and sanitize them.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Fatal CV/Resume Flaws

Posted in Career Advice

When it comes to job searching, the curriculum vitae (CV) or resume is the most important document that a jobseeker must create. Despite the importance of this document, many jobseekers, especially graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, fail to give them much thought or put much time into creating them. In today’s economy, typos, poor grammar and too much information are certain to cause most hiring managers to take a pass on you as a job candidate. However, as Caroline Potter of Yahoo HotJobs describes in her article entitled “The Biggest Resume Mistakes You Can Make” there are more critical issues that must be considered and addressed when crafting a successful CV or resume. 

In the article Ms Potter asserts that “The biggest flaw for a resume (CV) is when it fails to showcase a person’s accomplishments, contributions, and results and instead spouts a job description of each position he’s held.”

To learn more about the things that you ought to avoid when crafting your resume, click here.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!