Now that you know who you are trying to impress with your resume, it’s time to focus on how it looks and reads.

Remember,.this is NOT the venue to display your creativity. They key is to keep it simple and clear. Follow a simple format that is easy to read – remember that your audience might be scanning 50-100+ resumes at one sitting. Make it easy for them to find what they need.

Here’s what to do:

1. List your name and contact information
clearly at the top of the resume. Make sure your email address is professional. ( would not qualify as professional.)

2. Provide a brief 2-3 sentence summary. Use the job description to inspire this section.

3. Use bullets to list your key skills (no more than 12 bullets – two columns of six, or three columns of four). Remember the key words you designated as critical? Use them here. This should include the types of work you have done (RNA, siRNA, Protein Purification, etc.) and techniques specific to that work (RTPCR, Western Blotting, HTS, etc.). Did I mention the key words? Good. Use them!

4. List your Professional or Academic Experience (if you have any industry experience – highlight this!) and make it easy to read: Company name, dates, title. Then provide a 1-3 sentence overview of both the nature of your company’s business and your overall responsibilities. All other skills and accomplishments should be in bullet format. Do not list everything – list those skills that will help you get an interview for this particular job! Use key words here again! If there are multiple ways to say the same thing (RTPCR or Real Time PCR), use one version in the bulleted overview at the top of the resume and the other version here. There should be no more than 4-6 bullets under each place that you have worked. Convey the important information but don’t get too lengthy, because your audience won’t read it.

5. List Education

6. List Professional Associations – those most associated with your expertise should be at the top of the list

7. List Patents and Publications

8. Do not list “References upon request”,.because we all know they are

9. Do not use graphics or pictures. A resume file size that is too big stands out in a bad way.

10. Make sure you use a simple header with your name and phone number at the top of each page. Resumes will often get shuffled in the review process.

These steps will go a long way in gaining you visibility as you apply to companies. It doesn’t matter if you just graduated or if you have 15 years of industry experience,.we are all fighting the same fight and trying to stand out in a crowd!

Any questions about formatting your resume? Fire away…

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  1. I know what you mean, Melodee. We hear this form clients constantly and it always starts with, “would you believe”. That is never a good response.

  2. Thanks for listing this great information, Travis. You wouldn’t believe some of the email addresses that I’ve seen going over resumes for a client! A resume that I can scan through quickly and easily is my favorite resume.

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