The Clinical Research Resume: Increasing Accessibility for Maximum Impact

Published: Nov 01, 2012

The Clinical Research Resume: Increasing Accessibility for Maximum Impact By Anish Majumdar, Certified Professional Resume Writer

A major concern for jobseekers in the Clinical Research arena is figuring out exactly what information to highlight within their resumes. How do you communicate the specifics of a complex biotechnology project within 1 or 2 lines? How can you consolidate a year’s worth of research into a bullet point? One of the first things I’ll do when working with clients in this situation is to bring the focus back to the audience, i.e. the hiring agents, recruiters and other professionals who will be evaluating the document and making a decision as to who gets called in for an interview. The time-sensitive needs of employers today, combined with a marketplace gone digital, means that your documents will be seen by more people than ever before, many of whom with limited knowledge of your particular area of expertise. In such an environment, accessibility is key. The resume that can successfully communicate what makes you special, regardless of who is viewing the document, is the one that will consistently garner interviews.

1. Develop a “10-Second Pitch”

Imagine that you have 10 seconds to convince a stranger why you’re a leading professional. What do you focus on? Take the time to think this over and list 3 to 4 major ideas. For example, if your research work has resulted in published articles for molecular biology and cell biology journals, that’s a great place to start. If your work demonstrates expertise in developing cell-based assays and DNA/RNA extraction, that’s a great supporting detail. Finally, leadership and communication skills always hold merit: if you have a history of effectively collaborating with scientific and academic partners, that’s an effective closer. Tie all of this together into a succinct opening paragraph and include it at the very start of the resume. You’ve just created a powerful reason for a reader to explore your work history in detail.

2. Separate Keywords Into Multiple Sections

Resume keywords refer to those skills which are frequently referenced in job postings, and should to be integrated within your document to ensure successful scanning by Applicant Tracking Systems such as Taleo and Kenexa. While it may be tempting to only list hard-line laboratory skills within this area, accessibility is the name of the game. Differentiate between skills through creating a “Core Competencies” section listing in-demand general skills such as Research Project Planning/Implementation, Analytical Problem Solving and Grant Proposals, followed by a “Laboratory Skills” section listing abilities such as Mammalian Cell Culture, Western Blotting, and Plasmid Preparations. This approach demonstrates versatility and an awareness of the key qualities employers are on the lookout for.

3. Focus On “What” and “How” Within Your Work History

A good resume isn’t about being thorough: it’s about making an impression. When describing responsibilities and career accomplishments, describe the outcome (or “what”) first, followed by details on how this was accomplished. Here are 2 examples:

-Spurred success of research project inducing pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) as new model for evaluating schizophrenia, establishing 17 iPS cell lines and reengineering antibodies to characterize iPS cells through flow cytometry and immunofluorescence.

-Established reputation for technical expertise through successful development of new method for amino acids detection in drug formulation.

This strategy ensures the right amount of context is presented within the limited space of a resume, and naturally sets the stage for you to elaborate within an interview setting.

4. Practice the 80/20 Rule When Listing Credits

The 80/20 rule famously states that in most things, 80% of the results are a direct result of 20% of the effort. Clinical research professionals struggling to jam dozens of publication, presentation and other credits into their resume would do well to heed this principle. Instead of unnecessarily adding bloat to the document, it is perfectly acceptable to create a “Select Publications” or similar section listing recent credits only. Just be prepared to provide a complete list during the interview stage.

Best of luck in your job search efforts!

Read more biotech career tips. Find more biotech and pharma jobs by visiting the career center.

About the Author

Anish Majumdar, CPRW is a Career Expert and Owner at 98% of clients report and increase in interviews within 30 days, and all work comes backed by a 110% Satisfaction or Money Back Guarantee. Submit your resume for a free critique today!

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