Author: Claire Jarvis
Establishing your own recruiting niche as a junior recruiter might feel like a slow and arduous process. The temptation is to expand your client base as fast as possible, which would mean taking on projects in different therapeutic areas and handling a bit of every type of recruiting work. However, there are several long-term advantages to specializing in a particular therapeutic area or type of biotech role, and starting that specialization process as early as possible.
Expert recruiters can offer clients and job seekers insights on their competitors, as well as an understanding of general hiring trends and unwritten rules of the sub-market (e.g. the most enticing job description language). They understand the technical requirements of roles and can easily talk with bench scientists about their qualifications. This expertise makes the recruiter desirable to clients and jobseekers, because it increases the likelihood of finding the best candidates for the position.
In smaller biotech niches – constrained either by specialty or geography – recruiters working in the space will quickly learn who are the “hot” candidates currently on the market and build connections with them. Knowing that a qualified candidate with a coveted skillset is looking for new opportunities – perhaps because the recruiter has worked with them before – endears these recruiters to their clients.
While exposure to different therapeutic areas and types of recruiting (e.g. contingency versus full cycle) is important to help you develop as a new recruiter, your niche is a long-term investment for success and becomes part of your professional “brand.” Don’t be afraid to lean into your strengths; keeping abreast of the latest scientific or business developments in your area of expertise.
Recruiting niche at Sci.bio
Sci.bio is a boutique agency specializing in matching STEM professionals to biotech roles. Our recruiting partners all have niches: through their STEM degrees and many years’ industry experience. Here are some of the recruiting specialties amongst our team:
- Laura Helmick: Clinical development and medical affairs
- Kendra Hodges: Immuno-oncology
- Carter Lewis: Gene therapy
- Meg Wise: Director-level accounting and finance
- Mike Cordano: Sci.Bio business development, as well as Gene Therapy recruiting
- Carla Yacoub: Medical devices, with additional expertise in engineering, medical writing, gene therapy, and clinical roles
Author: Tara Smylie
When there’s a hiring freeze, it’s not the easiest time to be a biotech recruiter: As you may know, biotech companies have been experiencing a surge in layoffs in recent months, and nobody knows for sure when this trend will ease up.
While an industry-wide dip in hiring may concern you, it also creates an opportunity to step back and take a look at your clients, your stats, and your marketing strategies. Here, we’ve compiled some ways to stay busy and hone your craft while you find yourself with a little more time on your hands.
Strengthen candidate relationships during hiring freeze
If your stream of new talent is running thin, don’t despair – you can still reach out to your existing candidate pool and get to know them better. Find out how they’re doing, what they’re working on, and what their goals are. As you chat, be honest about what’s going on – and explain the action plan you’ll implement once the industry picks up.
At the same time, don’t limit your outreach to existing candidates. If you haven’t already, test out new talent engagement pipelines such as email, social media ads, and sourcing software. Experiment with different strategies and see which ones promise the best return on investment.
Review your process
Now that you have fewer day-to-day details to worry about, take a step back to look at the big picture. How is your overall strategy working for you? Any weak spots that could use some tweaking? Take inventory of four key metrics: average cost of hire, average time to hire, typical sources of hire, and employment acceptance rates. Are these stats where you want them to be? If not, use this time to make adjustments to your recruitment process.
You can also change or expand your strategy for attracting new clients. Assess your engagement rates, conversion rates, and the profitability of your advertising channels. Does your branding convey a cohesive message? All your social media should work synergistically and let prospective clients know exactly what you’re about.
Start planning now
When the hiring freeze ends, which may be sooner than you expect, you want to be ready to get back in the game immediately. To get into position, look at your databases of both candidates and employers. Take advantage of this time to reach out to new potential candidates and explain your services.
As you prepare for the next hiring surge, stay on top of hiring trends. When the economy booms again, demand for both traditional and non-traditional science roles will surge. A keen eye for upcoming trends, from health informatics to rare oncology, will give you an edge. Find out what’s hot and tailor your strategy to that.
Remember, you’re still in business
Companies rarely stop hiring entirely – even during a hiring freeze, you can reach out and ask what kind of roles potential clients are looking to fill. In uncertain times, businesses often place special emphasis on the quality of their new hires, while trying to cut down on the quantity. You’ll earn employers’ gratitude and loyalty if you can deliver top talent in trying times, so spend some extra time and energy finding hand-in-glove matches for clients who are hiring. By the same token, don’t forget about your existing candidate roster. In a frigid job market, candidates will need all the support they can get.
\When you’re a recruiter and there’s little recruitment to be done, it’s easy to get bored or restless. On the other hand, if you stay busy by investing in long-term relationships and business strategy, this hiring freeze may turn out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise. Before you know it, work will pick up – and you’ll be grateful you took this time to stay relevant and connected.
- Fierce Biotech Layoff Tracker
- Why Social Media Is Now So Important For Recruitment
- Qualified job candidates per hire: recruiting metrics that matter
- Hiring and Recruitment Trends To Expect In 2022
- The Hiring Freeze – What Is Happening? And What Can We Do?
- What is a Hiring Freeze? 7 Smart Things That a Recruiter Must Do During One
- How Recruiters Should Spend Their Time During a Hiring Freeze
- Biotech Layoffs: What’s Really Happening in the Industry and What’s its Market Outlook?
Author: Tara Smylie
Ah, the job search. Universally hated, and unfortunately also necessary for almost everyone at some point during their career. If you’re a recent grad in the middle of the hunt, you might feel a little stressed out or overwhelmed. That’s totally normal – and luckily, there are several ways you can manage your anxieties as you continue casting your net.
Contact and Connect
Friends, family, old mentors or professors… chances are, you know a handful of people who’ve been through the same thing and have some words of wisdom to offer. If possible, reach out to peers who are in the same boat – you will all feel less alone if you have each other to confide in. Connecting with other recent grads also has the advantage of strengthening your professional network.
Take a chance and connect with people or organizations you’d really like to work for, perhaps even offering to volunteer for them. For example, if you’re interested in a medical research environment, email a lab coordinator in that field and ask them if they have any opportunities for an ambitious assistant who is willing to work hard and eager to contribute. When it comes to life science and biotech, your connections are your strength – so never stop making them.
Work smart, not hard
Don’t pressure yourself to apply to exactly X number of jobs every day. Instead, focus on finding jobs that match your interests and abilities. For example, let’s say you excelled in all your statistics courses and have some field experience as a scientist. Perhaps you could put your skills to good use as a biostatistician – or possibly an environmental analyst for the right company. The ideal job will make use of your existing skills while offering you opportunities to cultivate new ones.
And remember: you don’t have to rush to the finish line. They say that looking for a job is a full-time job, but you don’t need to spend a full 8-hour day on the search if that feels excessive. While you are searching, be sure to read all job descriptions – you don’t want to waste anyone’s time applying for a job that doesn’t click for you. And when you inevitably face some rejection, try not to dwell on it and remember that rejection will happen to any job hunter who aims high.
Constantly refine your approach
Mass applying to hundreds of jobs at a time can feel productive, but you’re not as likely to impress any single employer. Find a balance between quality and quantity – and yes, that will mean writing cover letters. Over half of employers prefer candidates who attach them, and they can help you sell yourself if you maintain a professional tone.
As you search, you may notice that some components of your process need work. If you think your resume could use some fine-tuning, ask a colleague to look it over and give you some feedback. Or maybe you know your interviewing skills aren’t quite where you’d like them to be. If that’s the case, consider watching some videos or taking a course on the subject to brush up your skills. Your job-seeking skills will drive both your short- and long-term career, and the perfect time to invest in it is when you’re actively looking.
Relax your standards
There’s no need to find the “perfect” job immediately – you never know what an opportunity can lead to. Instead of chasing your number-one dream position, focus your efforts on landing a “good enough” job and consider where it could take you in the future. Nowadays it’s very common to end up working in a different field than the one you formally trained in, so stay open to the possibility of doing something a little unfamiliar.
As a final note: remember to enjoy the free time you have right now. You may not get the chance to take time off work for a while once you do have a job – so make the most of it while you can! Take this opportunity to polish your skills, reach out to old contacts, and get back in touch with the hobbies that fell by the wayside during your college days.
Keep calm and carry on
Finding a job is never easy. Realize that you’re not alone, and take the search at a pace that feels comfortable to you. Remember, you can’t control when you get an offer – only the effort you put into the process. If you’d like some assistance finding your next opportunity, Sci.bio’s recruitment services can help you take your next steps.
- It’s Who You Know: A Guide to Career Networking in the Life Science Industry
- How to Deal With Job Rejection and Move On
- 83 Must-Know Resume Statistics: 2022 Data on Length, Cover Letters & Valuable Skills
- Resume Writing for Life Scientists
- Managing Job Interview Questions
- Only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major
Author: Gabrielle Bauer
Explore these ideas, insights, and tips to help you live your best life, both on and off the job.
To stay sharp and to grow within the biotech industry, you need to look beyond the daily routine, to set goals, and to make connections. When you reach a fork in the road, you need strategies to help you choose your next steps with confidence. You also can’t ignore the rest of your life. No matter how inspiring you find your work in the life sciences, time away from the lab or the boardroom can help you maintain your zest for working and for living.
This backgrounder aims to inspire you to live more purposefully and creatively, at work and beyond. Use the ideas and tips below as a starting point, adapting them to your unique style and circumstances. Follow the links to dive more deeply into a topic, and keep an eye out for our blog and events for further insights into the science life.
A successful career journey includes both making and changing plans. While perseverance can get you through many rough spots, you also need to know when to cut your losses and regroup. Consider these approaches to help you chart your course.
Boosting Your Goal IQ
“I want to be successful in five years” may be an admirable goal, but it’s not a smart one. Smart goals are:
- Specific: To zero in on your goal, try answering the five W questions: What do you want to accomplish? Why is the goal important? Who does it involve? Where is it located? Which resources does it require? ●
- Measurable: How will you know when you’ve reached your goal or are partway there? Measuring your progress can help you maintain your excitement about approaching your goal. If your goal will take months or years to accomplish, break it down into steps that end with clear milestones.
- Achievable: By all means dream big, but make sure your goal matches your interests, aspirations, and aptitudes. The best goals are those that stretch your abilities without exceeding them. A word of caution: avoid setting goals that depend on someone else’s actions, like “getting promoted to medical director.” If that’s what you want, reframe your goal to something like “acquire the training and skills to be considered for a medical director position.”
- Relevant: The goal has to mean something to you. If it doesn’t align with your values and other life goals, it will lose its appeal. You know your goal is relevant if you can answer yes to the questions: Does the goal seem worthwhile? Is this the right time for it? Am I the right person to pursue it? Does it make sense in the current business environment?
- Time-bound: A time-bound goal has a deadline. If you decide to pursue an advanced degree in bioinformatics, you can set your deadline at (for example) three years from now. You can also set deadlines for completing prerequisites, if needed, and for applying to bioinformatics programs.
While you’re working on SMART goals, take the opportunity to step back and consider your long-term career trajectory. Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University, suggests you begin by clarifying where you don’t want to go. “Get clear on what you don’t want, and then take steps to avoid that,” she writes in the Harvard Business Review. “It’s much easier to identify things you know you dislike, rather than ideating about a hypothetical future.” Perhaps the pandemic years have made you realize that you don’t want to spend all your time in an office environment. Or perhaps it’s the opposite: you’ve learned that working from home doesn’t do it for you. Or you’ve realized that you don’t want to spend the rest of your career in a laboratory or on the road.
Next, flip the exercise around and make a list of scenarios that instinctively appeal to you. Maybe the entrepreneurial lifestyle calls to you, and you can picture yourself launching a boutique skincare company with a small lineup of clinically active products. Maybe you’re an avid hiker and you’d like to live closer to the mountains. Such “visioning” exercises will keep your long-term aspirations alive in your head, so you’ll be ready to turn them into SMART goals when the right time comes.
The Biggest Decision
If you’ve recently completed your schooling, you’re probably staring down the scientist’s biggest fork in the road: academia or industry? Or maybe you’ve already made your choice, travelled some distance down that path, and are now wondering if you should backtrack and take the other road.
It never hurts to lay out the pros and cons of either choice, as we’ve done here. For extra inspiration, check out videos such as this one, targeted to scientists and engineers.
When reviewing such lists, be sure to check in with yourself. Are you listening to your inner promptings, or are you trying to please a colleague or professor sitting on our shoulder? If that’s the case, refocus your thoughts on your own mental picture of yourself—the only picture that counts. Nobody knows you as well as you do, and what works for your mentor won’t necessarily line up with your needs.
Finding Your Career Sweet Spot
Ever heard of Ikigai? This Japanese path-finding exercise, which roughly translates to “reason for being,” can help you zero in on a career path that speaks to your heart and your mind. As illustrated below, Ikigai invites you to ask four questions:
- What do I love?
- What am I good at?
- What can I get paid for?
- What does the world need?
Once you’ve answered the questions, see where they overlap: that’s your ikigai, or career sweet spot. For example, if you love biology, you’ve always been good at drawing, you’re comfortable around computers, and you’ve noticed many new digital health communications companies popping up, you may find your sweet spot as a digital medical illustrator.
The Ikigai Intersection
Tweaking Your Career Path
If you’ve hit a mental wall in your career, you’re certainly not alone. By age 50, the average person has held 12 different jobs in search of the right fit. People change not only jobs, but careers: in 2016 alone, about 6.2 million workers left their roles for work in a different field. If you recognize yourself in these signs, it may be time for a change.
- You’ve lost your mojo: You don’t feel connected to your job and you have trouble faking enthusiasm. You’re underperforming and letting deadlines slip past you.
- You don’t feel like you’re making a difference: Your role doesn’t play to your greatest strengths, and you don’t feel your accomplishments make the world a better place.
- Your job is affecting your personal life: You come home exhausted, you take out your frustrations on those who live with you, or your body shows signs of chronic stress, such as headaches or digestive problems.
- You fantasize about a new job or career: You feel jealous of your friends’ careers or find yourself browsing job boards. When people ask you what you do, you don’t take pride in the answer.
- You dread going to work: This clue needs no further elaboration. If you feel this way consistently, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Perhaps you don’t need to step out of the life sciences field, but to find a new career under its large umbrella. If your job as a lab technician doesn’t fulfill the performer in you, maybe a biology teacher will do the trick. Or if you enjoy working on science projects but feel like an outsider in the lab, you could find your groove as a regulatory writer. Don’t ever think of such lateral moves as steps backward: success is measured in personal fulfillment, not in a CV.
The life sciences are as much about people as products. Whether you’re looking for a new job, want advice on writing research grants, or simply enjoy picking colleagues’ brains, you don’t have to be the life of the party to make meaningful connections. You just need to show up where your tribe hangs out.
Go to Industry Events
If you’re in job-hunting mode, networking will take you farther than just about any other strategy. It’s your ticket to the hidden job market—the 70% of jobs that never get advertised to the public. Not just that, but networking jumpstarts 85% of all job offers.
Start by making the most of industry events. The biopharma world runs on a continuous cycle of conferences and summits, many of which include after-hours networking sessions. Even if you feel tired after a long day, resist the temptation to skip them. Designed to help people relax and unwind, these events are networking gold: when people feel relaxed, they connect more easily and organically.
Which brings us to the big networking takeaway: focus on building relationships, rather than making transactions. It’s unlikely that your new connection has a job lined up for you, and a direct appeal may turn them off at this stage. Remember that both of you share the same goal: to build a network of people who can help each other over the course of your careers.
Within a day or two of making a connection, send a quick follow-up note. Avoid making a specific request: instead, thank your contact for the chance to chat and tell them you hope to speak more in the future. Next time you sign up for a conference, ask them if they plan to attend and can meet up with you.
In some cases, a connection may lie dormant for a while before coming back to life again—and sometimes the spark just isn’t there. If you feel you’re forcing it, step back and accept that not all connections will stick. Like many things in life, networking requires a mix of persistence, patience, and rolling with the punches.
Whether you love or merely tolerate social media, it’s a networking channel you can’t afford to ignore. Start with LinkedIn, recognized as a top choice for career networking. Make sure your own LinkedIn profile stays up to date, and post articles of interest to your network every few days. Join LinkedIn groups devoted to your area and become an active participant. Also engage on LinkedIn with people you’ve met at live events. Request a connection, comment on their content, and share articles that may interest them.
Hop on Twitter to get industry news and discover movers and shakers in your area. As with LinkedIn, engage with the colleagues you meet on Twitter: follow them, comment on their posts, and retweet blog posts and articles they’ve posted.
At the same time, avoid relying exclusively on social media to build your network. As Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, points out, “Sometimes social media tricks us into believing we have a strong connection with someone when, in fact, that connection only exists in that single plane of existence.” When an opportunity presents itself, Clark suggests taking the conversation off-line. “If you notice that your friend was just promoted or had some other success, celebrate her win by giving her a call or sending her a note.”
Want to volunteer? Do it strategically.
Strategic volunteering means choosing volunteering roles based on the skills you have and those you’d like to acquire. Yes, it’s calculated—and that’s a good thing. For example, if you’d like to boost your project management or business communication skills, consider volunteering for a hospital foundation. Want a crack at leadership or policymaking? Volunteer for a committee in a science organization. For the biggest bang in human contact, help out at a major conference.
Stepping Away From Toxic Relationships
Building your network doesn’t just mean making connections: it means severing those connections that cause more harm than good. If you sense that a colleague or friend is trying to sabotage your career, you could well be right. Not everyone has your back. Attitudes and behaviors like these should set off your alarm bells:
- Failing to offer encouragement when you clearly need it
- Questioning whether you’re qualified for a job you have in mind
- Revealing personal information about you to other colleagues or on social media
If the saboteur is someone you know well, a candid conversation may lead her to mend his ways, but don’t count on it. Sometimes your best course of action is to cut your losses, ideally before the tension escalates to animosity. If you keep getting sabotaging vibes from a friend or associate, step away without guilt. As the saying goes, life’s too short.
And what if the problem lies with your whole working environment? By no means rare, toxic work cultures can sap your performance and your spirit. Signs of workplace toxicity include lack of transparency around projects, passive-aggressive communication, and cliques within departments. If this describes your workplace, consider taking your concerns to someone in the human resources department (assuming your organization has one). A mediated group discussion could help people reflect on their contributions to the bad vibe—and realize that they’re being watched. If nothing changes, look for opportunities to move to a different department, or even a different branch. And update your resume, just in case.
Balance doesn’t look the same for everyone. To achieve a work-life balance that leaves you fulfilled, you need to know what you value most, both at work and elsewhere, and work toward it. If flexible work hours and creative control top your list, share these priorities with recruiters and hiring managers when you consider new biotech roles. Of course, flexibility works both ways: don’t automatically reject opportunities that meet most but not all of your criteria. Small details can be negotiated, either now or down the line.
As a rule, life science professionals bring a lot of passion to their work. There’s nothing wrong with working hard—or even to devote most of your waking hours to your work—except when your focus on work strains your personal life or starts affecting your health. A hyper-focus on work also puts you at risk of job burnout—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that erodes your job satisfaction and even your personal identity. Symptoms of burnout also include lack of energy, poor concentration, and physical symptoms such as headaches or digestive problems.
While not (yet) a medical diagnosis, burnout is recognized by leading medical publishers such as the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. If you’re heading toward burnout, you need to insert a braking mechanism into your working life, even if it feels forced at first. Some burnout-busting ideas to consider:
- Keep one day per week free of meetings
- Designate certain hours of the evening off-limits for viewing and sending emails
- Schedule outside time into your day: go for a walk, sit by a lake, or stroll through a botanical garden
- Schedule activities with family and friends
- Show up for family meetings and emergencies
- Plan day trips to nearby towns or hiking trails
Attitude Adjustment: the Joy of Gratitude
Appreciating the blessings in your life doesn’t just feel good: practicing gratitude can improve your sleep and emotional regulation and protect you from stress and burnout. To get the full benefits of the practice, list a few blessings every day in a gratitude journal (or electronic file), post them on a gratitude mood board, or drop them into a gratitude jar. Don’t limit the blessings to big-ticket items such as a promotion or new friendship: the cherry tree you saw down the street or the joke you exchanged with the cashier count, too.
Recharging Your Batteries
In biotech and elsewhere, many jobs involve long periods of physical inactivity and engagement with screens. Over time, this workstyle can drain your energy and lead to health problems. If you recognize yourself in some of these habits, try the science-backed antidotes listed below.
For a more potent reboot, take that vacation you’ve been putting off. If you’re like four out of 10 Americans, you didn’t take all your vacation days last year. Don’t be that “hero”—today’s employers certainly don’t expect it of you. Successful biotech companies recognize the restorative power of a vacation and encourage their employees to take time off.
In addition to recharging your batteries, vacations can give you a new perspective on your life, including your career trajectory. If crowded airports are not your thing, book a week at a cottage or a campsite nearby.
Official holidays may not coincide with your vacation time, but they offer a further opportunity to disconnect from work pressures and stressors. When the next statutory holiday or holiday season rolls around, take the opportunity to reflect on your career accomplishments and challenges over the past months. Reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while, whether a colleague or simply a friend. If it’s alone time you crave most, enjoy some guilt-free hours with a hardcover book—or surround yourself with the natural world.
Keeping the Juices Flowing
Have you ever pondered a problem for hours on end, glued to your screen or notepad, and then hit upon the solution after you’ve stepped away to weed your garden or walk around the block? We’ve all had this experience, and psychologists say it’s no accident. As behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenck explains in a Psychology Today article, “if you keep your prefrontal cortex too focused on the ‘task at hand’ then it can’t go searching for interesting combinations of information you have stored in memory. When you take a break (the garden, the walk, the shower, the dishes) then your PFC is freed up to go searching and combining.”
To stay creative, you need to expose your brain to a variety of stimuli. Different creative activities stimulate different parts of the brain, contributing to its plasticity over the lifespan. For example, exercise increases growth factors that help the brain form new neural connections, and meditation helps preserve the aging brain. Completing a puzzle or playing a word game doesn’t just help you relax: it’s brain juice. To get the most from the activity, choose the right level of challenge—a bit of a stretch, but not too much—whether it’s the cryptic crossword or the daily brain teaser in your newspaper.
We hope you have found some inspiration in these ideas and will apply them to your own life. Feel free to pop back here to remind yourself of your goals and progress. If you’re wondering whether to accept or decline an offer, or whether to reinvent yourself entirely, keep your focus on your must-haves and your deal breakers. The fine points can always be negotiated. If you’re honest with yourself and with your recruiter, you’ll get what you need. Ω
Author: Cliff Mintz
Looking for a new job can be an overwhelming and daunting experience. A vital first step in any job search is the creation of a carefully constructed and well-crafted resume or curriculum vitae (CV). While there are clear distinctions between resumes and CVs—the former is a one-to-two-page document whereas a CV has no page limit—the CV is the preferred document for life scientists. This is mainly because the shortened resume format doesn’t provide scientists with enough space to adequately explain their training, accomplishments and research interests to prospective employers. However, for non-scientists jobs like administrative assistants, pharmaceutical operators, and data entry professional resumes are preferred.
Too often, inexperienced job seekers will hastily craft resumes without paying much attention to format, style, content or grammar; and then wonder why they are not landing job interviews. The purpose of this article is to provide some advice and tips to help life scientists improve their resume writing skills. The terms resume and CV will be used interchangeably; but most of my remarks are mainly directed at crafting CVs.
Formatting and Writing Tips
Open, uncluttered and less densely-written CVs are visually appealing and more likely to be read by hiring managers. This is because these individuals scan hundreds (sometimes thousands) of resumes daily and unless an applicant’s qualifications, skill sets and
personal attributes “jump off the paper”—and are easily discerned in 60 second or less—the likelihood of a face-to-face job interview is remote.
Short descriptive and succinctly-crafted phrases are the best way for employers to quickly ascertain whether a job applicant is qualified (bullets are option). Avoid using paragraphs because they are dense and sometimes difficult for hiring managers to navigate and interpret.
Finally, powerful, action-oriented verbs and adjectives tend to evoke strong, positive impressions. The use of action verbs and superlative suggest that a job applicant is confident, self assured and has a “can do” attitude. Unfortunately, scientists usually don’t excel in this area but it is essential to be successful in a job search.
Constructing a CV
Generally speaking, there can be as many as eight different sections for a CV.
1. Summary of Qualifications
The Summary of Qualifications or candidate profile is the first section of a CV that a hiring manager will see. It represents the best opportunity for a candidate to convince a prospective employer that she/he may be the right person for the “job” It should not be longer than 4 to 5 lines and must be peppered with key words (gleaned from job ads). Many organizations use software programs to screen CVs for key words and if they are absent the likelihood of employment for a job candidate is low.
2. Professional Experience
The Professional Experience section lists a candidate’s work experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent to past). Three to four short descriptive phrases that detail a candidate’s professional experiences while holding each position is generally sufficient.
3. Professional Activities
Professional activities include things that are related but not part of a person’s official job responsibilities. Examples include, consulting, editorial duties, committee memberships etc.
Education credentials generally begin with the lowest degree first (associate or bachelor) and end with the most advanced degree or educational experience, e.g. postdoctoral fellowships or professional school. The name and location of the institution that awarded the degree and major area of study ought to be listed with each entry (Fig 1). PhD and masters’ theses title or a brief description of a research project (postdoctoral fellows) may also be included. It is perfectly reasonable to list the names of PhD mentors or postdoctoral advisors associated with PhD and postdoctoral training.
It is not necessary to list the dates that degrees were awarded. While this may not be a bad thing for entry level employees, it may hinder more experienced job seekers from securing new positions because of age discrimination.
5. Award & Honors
Awards and honors include any official recognition for outstanding service or accomplishments and include dean’s list, travel awards, scholarships etc.
6. Professional Affiliations
Membership in professional societies, organizations or clubs should be listed in a separate section entitled Society Membership and Professional Affiliations (Fig. 1).
7. Other Skills
When appropriate, it is okay to list (in a separate section) any extracurricular activities or specialized skills related to the job that may increase a candidate’s competitiveness.
All of a candidate’s authored publications should be listed on the last page of a CV in the in this section. Usually, this section is divided into three subsections: 1) Peer-reviewed papers; 2) Chapters, Books and Reviews; and 3) Oral and Poster Presentations (Fig. 1). Early career scientists need not include all of the categories if they lack the appropriate publications. Likewise, midcareer scientists may consider not listing oral and poster presentations. Publications ought to be numbered and it is appropriate to list papers that are “in press.” Manuscripts that are submitted should not be included.
As a rule of thumb, never send references to prospective employers unless they specifically ask for them. Simply indicate on the resume (usually immediately before the publications section; Fig 1) that references are “available upon request.” However, for most academic jobs it is customary for an applicant to send references at part of the original application package. For industrial jobs, references are generally not requested unless an employer is interested in moving forward with a possible job offer.
Tailoring a Resume
To be competitive, job candidates must routinely tweak and modify their resumes to meet individual job requirements. One convenient way to tailor a CV to a specific job, is to read the job ads created for the opportunity. Employers always list the skills, qualifications and experience that will be required by the successful applicant (typically what is mentioned first is most important). Once identified, a resume ought to be modified with keywords to show that a candidate possesses all or most of the job qualifications and requirements.
Finally, keeping a resume current is vitally important. Resumes that are not fully up-to-date may suggest that a candidate is lazy or not interested in a particular job. Also, some job opportunities may appear quickly and the time required to update an out-of-date resume may prevent a candidate from competing for a job.