By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com
What’s the most important document you’ll ever create?
The answer is not your internet dating profile. It’s your resume. While a 2012 study by TheLadders found that recruiters might only spend six seconds reviewing it, the right resume can make those seconds count, capturing the hiring managers interest while helping you avoid shocking job search blunders. Unfortunately, far too many biotech and pharma professionals spend so much time (minutely) detailing their accomplishments, adding flashy formatting and using “big” words that they end up with resumes that actually turn off their intended audience—a result as unwelcome in the laboratory as it is in the dating world.
1. A “career objective” statement
Most objectives state the type of life science job you want and little else (“Seeking a position as a senior scientist,” for example). They rarely communicate why you’re interested in a particular position with a particular employer or how you can satisfy that employer’s needs. Simply put, they’re a waste of valuable real estate. You only have one page to sell yourself so make every sentence count.
2. Graphics or other visuals
It’s a resume, not a PowerPoint presentation. While you may be tempted to illustrate your accomplishments with charts and graphs, most hiring managers aren’t going to take the time to interpret that type of data. They want an easily reviewable list of what you’ve done, how well you did it, and how you’ll use that experience to their benefit.
3. Nail down your justifications.
4. Your address
Maybe you’re open to relocating or aren’t afraid of a longer commute. That’s well and good, but it’s not a question you want a recruiter to ask him or herself upon first review of your resume. Play it safe and remove your home address. If you must include something to indicate your location, make it the city and state of your current or former employer.
5. An unprofessional email address
While you obviously don’t want to answer employment enquiries from your current work email address, including a less than professional account on your resume can be an even bigger turnoff for recruiters. You might be the best data architect in the industry, but don’t expect a hiring manager to believe that if your email address includes things like “crazycatlady” or “tswift4ever.”
6. Regurgitated job descriptions
Once again, you must sell your qualifications to the hiring manager on a single page. When time is of the essence, he or she is less interested in what you did day-to-day (“responded to vendor emails,” “ordered laboratory supplies,” “troubleshooting of production line”) and more concerned with quantifiable accomplishments. This is your opportunity to brag, so throw that false modesty out the window.
7. Industry jargon and buzzwords
Sometimes an HR professional or a hiring manager’s administrative assistant is responsible for the initial resume review. While they might be comfortable with general biotech industry terms, he or she may not be familiar with the acronyms and abbreviations regularly used within your position. It’s best to leave them off your resume UNLESS the employer used them within the job description. If that’s the case, they may actually be keywords you’ll want to include.
8. Overused phrases
Does your resume include phrases such as “demonstrated ability to” and “uniquely skilled at?” According to Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, expert resume writer, these “dull the shine of your individuality” and come across as less articulate than statements that demonstrate success or excellence. Ax them immediately along with this list of other vapid phrases damaging your job search.