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Hiring Managers' Opinions About Resume Mistakes

2/13/2014 2:15:34 PM

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Hiring Managers' Opinions About Resume Mistakes March 6, 2014

Stay away from these snafus that could land your resume in the reject pile.

By Angela Rose for

Every job search begins with a resume. In order to be successful, it must communicate your skills, experience, and education convincingly and succinctly. It must also stand out from dozens of other submissions—but not for the wrong reasons. Documents that contain typos, spelling blunders, grammatical errors, or superfluous personal information may be memorable but are unlikely to land you a biotech or pharma job.

A careful proofreading and a little common sense will prevent you from committing most resume snafus. However, hiring managers’ opinions of less obvious missteps can lead to your rejection as well. Before you apply for your next biopharma position, make sure you have not made any of the following mistakes.

1. Using a "functional" format.

For example, let's say you're a clinical project manager and you’ve had to take time out from your career in the past to deal with personal matters. You don’t want this to hurt your chances, so you decide to use a functional resume, highlighting those stellar skills rather than your fragmented employment history of dates. Unfortunately, the hiring manager now knows you have something to hide, as far too many job seekers have tried to do the same. If you don’t want to come across as sneaky, stick to a chronological format and address any potential red flags in your cover letter.

2. Omitting quantifiable data.

When it comes to on-the-job accomplishments, numbers are more impressive than words. If you submit a resume with a string of “responsible for” statements and another candidate includes quantifiable data to illustrate his or her achievements, you may find yourself out of the running. Fortunately, providing hiring managers with the numbers they crave is fairly simple. Wherever possible, enhance descriptions of duties (such as “tracked technical troubleshooting activities”) with numerical details (such as “implemented a tracking procedure that reduced the need for technical troubleshooting by 25 percent”).

3. Disregarding the chain of command.

Whether you want to work as a QA specialist for a large pharmaceutical company or an electrical integration project manager for a small biotech manufacturer, it’s important to respect the chain of command. Hiring managers quickly develop poor opinions of job applicants who submit resumes to the CEO, members of the Board of Directors, or anyone other than the individual specified in the job posting. Doing so leaves the impression that you a) are unable to follow directions, and b) ignore standard procedures—two undesirable traits in an employee.

4. Expecting a referral to get you the job.

Most biopharma employers appreciate candidate referrals from the employees within their organization. Referred candidates tend to be a better fit with the company’s culture, as well as, remain part of the team longer than those who don’t have a friend on the inside. If you’re a biochemist who happens to know someone within the company you’re interested in working for, a referral will help you stand out in a crowd of applicants—but don’t expect it to get you the job. Submit a resume through the normal process like everyone else and show the hiring manager you’re not the type to seek favors.

5. Failing to consider delivery.

Writing a resume may be the hardest part of the process, but many job seekers make preventable mistakes when submitting it. These include sending their document in an unusual file format (basically, anything other than Word), failing to email it themselves first (to ensure it is delivered correctly), and sending it to the hiring manager from an inappropriate email address. While may be cute, it’s not very professional. For best results, create a free email account with your first and last name and use it for all communications related to your job search.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends, and workplace issues for

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