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Tips to consider when developing your resume for a career in the life sciences industry

1. Your resume is about what you can do for the company. Try to show how you can help the company and that you have the relevant experience to do the job.

2. Match your qualifications to the position specs. If the company is seeking to hire people with particular skills or experience, be sure to list those on the first page--don't hide important information in the text.

3. Prepare for the 5 second scan - highlight key words so that your resume will be selected when they scan resumes. You want human resources (HR) to be able to surmise your qualifications and capabilities in a 5-second scan. List your qualifications, core competencies on the first page.

4. Highlight key words that make you qualified for the position. You don't know what the key words will be. Key words examples include: the therapeutic area (i.e. diabetes, oncology), job or technical discipline (i.e. marketing/product management, medicinal chemistry, molecular biology), technical skills (i.e. PCR, mass spec) or domain knowledge (i.e. medical device industry). The key words are also important for your resume being identified for resume tracking software.

5. Highlight your achievements, successes, results throughout—we want to see a track record of success. Examples would be awards, significant achievements, etc.

6. Describe what you did, and your results. For example, 'I studied XYZ gene' versus 'I studied XYZ gene and discovered that....'.

7. Be sure to add your publications. Your publications might be the first thing that the hiring manager will review. Publications are considered your ability to work on projects on time and on budget. Also, key words are present in your publications.

8. Include an objective--this will assure that your resume will go to the right person in the company. For example, if you are interested in a position in project management, your resume will go to the project manager who is hiring if you include your interests in your objective. Alternatively, if you just put "biochemist" or "molecular biologist" under your name, HR will assume that you are interested in a research scientist position.

9. Avoid sending the same resume/a generic resume. 'Shotgun' resumes are not as effective. Tailor your resume for each job application, and keep a copy for your records.

10. Your resume should be attractive and distinguished—it should look professional. Avoid using multiple or fancy or unusual type faces.

11. Human Resources receives hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes and they generally do not have enough time to read paragraphs. Try to summarize your background in concise, bulleted sentences.

12. Make sure that there is enough space in your resume so that it is easy to read.

13. Keep your word selection suitable for both HR and hiring managers. For example, HR may not know that the gene that you worked on, i.e. p53, is a tumor suppressor, but the hiring manager will. Include the therapeutic area, i.e., oncology, in addition to p53, so that HR can forward your resume to the right hiring manager.

14. Back up claims with numbers. For example, increased sales by 10%. Try to keep out the “fluffy” words.

15. Be sure to include your home email address--if you include your work or postdoctoral email address, that may eventually go away. You want to be able to be reached several years from now. Don't include your email address in the headers or footers--that information can be scrambled by resume software.

16. Send your resume by email. Print your resume first to be sure that the format looks good. Recruiters store your resume in resume-tracking systems so that they can retrieve your resume when they seek particular skill sets. Send your resume as a file that has your name as its title.

17. Spell check! In this highly competitive job market, you can’t afford to have spelling or grammatical errors in your resume. Ask friends to review your resume.

18. Update your LinkedIn profile-- hiring managers will frequently review your LinkedIn profile after receiving your resume. Be sure that you have plenty of connections and have included key words in your profile. Feel free to LinkIn with me--I will accept if you have a science degree.

19. The number of pages: as many pages as you need. Just don't make the mistake of too little information (which is the most common problem).

20. There are many ways to develop resumes, and you will be offered multiple opinions. There is no one way to do this.

21. The "ideal position specs" as exactly that: ideal. Most people don't have all the qualifications. So it's OK to submit your resume, even if you don't fit the position 100%.

Generic Resume for the Life Sciences Industry


Name and Contact Information

Your name, (degree if MS, Ph.D., MD, MBA)
Contact information (it is important to have your contact information at the top - it might be lost if it is at the bottom of your resume or in the headers or footers)
Email address (use a home or personal email address) The town and state that you live in
Phone: what type of phone, i.e. home or cell


What position do you seek?
Postdoctoral fellow seeking biochemistry opportunity
Ph.D. biochemist seeking research scientist position
Biochemist with 16 years of industry experience seeking a managerial position
Expert in diabetes with 17 years industry experience seeking senior managerial position

Core Expertise/Summary

Summarize your qualifications and accomplishments
Clinical project manager with 10 years industry experience focused in oncology drug development
15 INDs filed, three drug candidates have entered Phase III clinical trials
Was part of the team that developed EPO
Published front cover Nature paper in 2015
Stem cell expert, designed the first…
Won sales excellence award four years in a row

Professional Experience

Company, Date, Title
If a small company, it helps to describe it: (Biomedical is an emerging company developing diagnostic products to detect cancer,
Chronological, most recent first, bullet accomplishments
Increased sales by 20%
Managed a project that resulted in IND filing for cancer therapeutic
Awarded STTR grant for…
Discovered, first to develop, identified X gene which was shown to be involved in cancer
Work published in Nature 2015
Built and developed, organized and supervised, managed 16 direct reports

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

University, Department, Advisor, Dates
Again, bullet results

Graduate Student/Doctoral Research Scientist

University, Department, Advisor, Dates
Thesis title
Bullet results

Internships, Contract work

Also include non-life science work experience


Degree, School, dates, thesis, honors and awards
Continuing education


List as many as possible

Relevant Coursework

For entry-level applicants, list relevant classes and include your GPA.

Technical Skills

Relevant techniques, summarize into distinct areas
Biochemistry: HPLC, SDS PAGE,
Molecular Biology: PCR, cloning, gene expression analysis
Computer skills: Word, PowerPoint, JAVA, C++

Professional Societies

Toastmasters, dates, include if served as an officer
Societies where you have volunteered


Fluent in ...

Visa Status

If applicable, include your visa status


Include as many publications as possible--key words are in here. If this list is longer than 5 pages, include it as a separate file

Presentations and Abstracts


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