You’re a chemist looking for work, sitting in front of your computer, perusing a list of positions at chemistry labs or companies. You’ve selected five promising jobs. Your résumé is ready, perfected down to the final word. It’s time to send this résumé to all five openings, right? Wrong. You’re making a critical résumé mistake.
Unless they are applying for the exact same position five times, a chemist would be making a huge résumé mistake by sending an identical résumé to each employer. Despite having similar titles, every job posting is different. Recruiters and hiring managers in industry and academia will each have their own rankings of desirable candidate traits. The characteristics they value most will be clear within specific sections of the position description. Smart chemists tailor their résumé to exhibit those attributes. Key sections of a job post to search for valued characteristics may be titled “Responsibilities,” “Duties,” or “Qualifications.”
You’ll pinpoint specific desired qualities by noting the language used in these sections and mirroring your résumé to reflect those terms. For example, if a position you are applying for contains the words “communicate,” “team-oriented,” “leadership,” and “manage/supervise,” then all these words should be included in your résumé to show you are a good fit for the role.
Note: You should never fabricate experience or qualifications. No résumé mistake is bigger. If you are not able to speak to all the key attributes included within the posting, then be sure to speak to as many as you can. The goal is to use specific keywords so when recruiters are scanning through hundreds of résumés, they see a qualified chemist who stands out as a match, based on their own requirements.
The idea is to not start from scratch for each application but to have a flexible résumé you can tweak to best match the position for which you are applying. You can save time by having two or three versions of your résumé based on the type of roles you’d like. Chemist positions in academia will require different résumé language than positions in industry, and roles that involve personnel or project management will frequently require unique keywords. From that résumé template, you can then update your résumé as needed based on the position for which you are applying.