Wondering if I should pay a professional to make sure my resume gets read.
February 11, 2005 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Aside from this AskMe thread looking for a particular resume service, I can't find anything about resume-writing services in general.

Has anyone used one, especially in the sciences, where there are lots of industry jobs and lots of resumes flying around? I'm wondering if I should pay a professional to make sure my resume has a good chance of ever getting read by a human. Also, if you have any biotech/pharma-specific resume tips, feel free to chime in...
posted by rxrfrx to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm also currently in the process of applying to science-related jobs for my first time. As far as specifics go, list any and every special equipment you can use. For example, my specialty is working with PCR and analyzing the results and extracting the DNA so I'll want to list that I am proficient with using a specific PCR machine (I forget what brand we use), gels, and using extraction kits to get the DNA sequences. However, make the list of science skills you have sweet and to the point. Going into too much elaboration will cause them to miss things. Besides that, I've been told that the most important thing is having an Objective that stands out. If the objective doesn't stand out, then the rest won't even get read. And this comes from advice I got from someone who used to read resumes for hiring.
posted by jmd82 at 11:36 PM on February 11, 2005

Back in 2001, as an unemployed web developer, I used Quintessential Resumes I was very pleased with their work. Sure, their site design is a bit dated, but they do good work. They reworked my resume and allowed me to come across well without making it read like a press release.
posted by Handcoding at 12:02 AM on February 12, 2005

I'll partially disagree with jmd28. If you are applying for any opening, then yeah, an objective is important. If you are applying for a specific job, then you don't need an "objective." A good cover letter is much more important and doesn't scream "my resume is just a Microsoft Word template I haphazardly filled out."

I found Joel Spolsky's rant on Getting Your Resume Read particularly informative and even funny. You might check out the del.icio.us resume tag.
posted by grouse at 2:43 AM on February 12, 2005

Seconding grouse -- the Joel Spolsky piece is very good, especially its emphasis on the cover letter, which often gets overlooked by applicants in their frenzy to create The Killer Resume. The cover letter really gives you a chance to tell your story, show that you've researched the company you're applying to, and generally present yourself as a personable, articulate human being instead of just a collection of degrees and jobs previously held.

But with resumes, there's no single template that's right for everyone. Apart from the obvious stuff (proofread x 100, don't lie), I think the key is to think of it as an exercise in usability. Is your most important, relevant information really easy to glean in a 5-10 second quick scan? How can you lead the reader's eye gracefully to your key qualifications, whether those are education, work experience, specific skill sets, or whatever?

Good luck!
posted by Kat Allison at 6:14 AM on February 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the recommendations so far, though I'm not looking for general resume advice - I think my resume's pretty good as it is. What I need is specific tips on making my resume more likely to get past the initial computer-screening process and into the hands of an actual person. I've been told that especially in the pharmaceutical/biotech field, because of the sheer volume of new jobs and applicants, every resume gets electronically ranked by keywords and such before any person looks at it.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:38 AM on February 12, 2005

Depending on what job level you are looking for (senior lab tech or project manager? Do you have an MSc or a PhD?) you may want to go to a headhunter. I know that in Toronto there are quite a few that work specifically in the life sciences. Since most life science companies will be looking to fill a very specific position very quickly, they don't want to spend a lot of time looking and will turn to a trusted headhunter.
If you are looking at an entry level position then I often suggest going to a temp agency (you should easily find one that specializes in life science jobs), and making your connections once you get that first placement.
I've had very good success in finding jobs in the life sciences, so feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions. (God, that sounded pretentious!)
posted by nprigoda at 9:02 AM on February 12, 2005

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