What to Put on Your Resume
I read a lot of resumes, and most are awful.
I recently interviewed a candidate, for example, who waxed eloquent during the interview about how he valued great customer service. He gave examples, talked about involving line staff, insisted that people needed to talk to each other to get things done. Yet his resume didn’t contain the words “customer service.” It looked generic, as though he had prepared it for any job interview.
I’ve read resumes that list every tiny detail about work history, education, and hobbies. I’ve read resumes that list every instrument a tech has ever worked on, boring tasks associated with any job, or too much experience (and too many pages) for too few years in the field.
I’ve flubbed up, too. When I applied for my current position the HR director looked at my resume near the end of the interview and said in good humor, “I can’t help but comment that you haven’t listed ‘Leadership’ as a core skill.” (“Give me that!” I said, and I grabbed it and wrote down “Leadership.”)
But resumes aren’t mysterious. There are only two rules.
- Write for an interview. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview, so potential employers form a first impression of you from a resume. Trust me, after you’ve read enough resumes they really help in selecting good candidates.
- Write for your audience. This is such a basic rule that it surprises me how often it isn’t followed. Yet many candidates submit a generic resume that sells them in broadest terms instead of for the job they want.
For example, list core skills applicable to the job you want. If you’re applying for a generalist position, list experience in microbiology, blood bank, and any area that sells you as a generalist. Find out the instrumentation used in the laboratory and list them if you’ve worked on them. Above all list experience selling your core values. If you plan to say you value customer service, for example, make sure those words appear on your resume.
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