Crafting the Perfect Resume

As someone who receives dozens of resumes a day, I see a wide range of styles and formats. There’s no single right way to write a resume. You’ll get lots of opinions on what to do and not to, and many of these opinions will contradict each other. Use the best of the best!

The goal of a resume isn’t to get a job – it’s to set up an interview. Don’t include a ton of extra information, references or head shots. I like to see personal hobbies that showcase achievement and leadership. Avoid controversial topics like politics or religion.

Format matters

The cold reality is technology impacts how a resume is read. Most companies receive your resume in an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). A Microsoft Word formatted resume with few graphics or photos is read better and will give you a leg up in getting noticed. You can absolutely have a PDF to showcase your design and creative ability, perhaps better suited to hand out in an in-person interview or to email directly to a hiring manager.

Tell me a story

I look for resumes that are well written and that include relevant accomplishments vs. a list of duties performed. Keywords are critical.  Keywords should be embedded into bullet points as part of accomplishments vs. a separate section of just words/skills. If you have expertise/knowledge of specific software packages or technology platforms, include those in a separate section. I prefer a one or two-page resume. Make sure to leave white space and use at least a 10-point font.

What’s on the marquee?

I prefer seeing a summary vs. an objective. When you write your summary statement, you aren’t just telling the employer what you are good at, you are telling them what you want to do in your next job. No matter how well you do something or how much experience you have in a certain area, don’t highlight it if you don’t want to do it. For example:

  • If you are currently at a PR agency and want to move into an in-house role, don’t focus on agency management activities.
  • If you want to focus on corporate communications, showcase relevant experience in that area vs. promote your product communications experience

Think of what defines you as a professional. Examples could be

  • Communications expert in launching biopharma products
  • Experienced marketing events manager who plans 40+ large scale events/year
  • Results-driven media relations expert who has earned coverage in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Boston Business Journal.

Here are a few examples of summaries that I like

  • Senior product marketing manager with 8 years of b2b SaaS experience with a proven and demonstrated knowledge in customer and market research. Can effectively bridge customer business requirements to technical feature sets as well as to broad market trends. Managed up to 3 direct reports. MBA from Boston University.
  • Digital marketing manager with 5+ years of experience developing, implementing, and optimizing integrated marketing programs. Expertise in PPC, SEO, and website analytics, with strong client management, project management, and presentation skills. Accustomed to wearing multiple hats in fast-paced agency environments in both doer and manager roles.
  • Media Relations professional with 12+ years of in-house and agency experience. Proven track record of getting coverage in top life sciences trades and national business news outlets. Adept at coaching and training C-level executives to manage issues and crises. Serve as primary spokesperson for the company. 
  • Experienced public relations professional with a passion for developing and executing strategic communications programs supporting companies and therapies at every stage of the lifecycle. Proven track record in all aspects of integrated healthcare communication, including scientific and data communications, brand identity, strategic message development, as well as content creation, planning and distribution.
  • Deep understanding of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, life sciences, technology, and financial markets. Able to discern complex scientific information and communicate it to audiences with various technical backgrounds. Established relationships with agenda-setting journalists at national, regional, and industry publications.

Let’s get to the meat of it

Here are some tips on tailoring your resume and developing bullet points that tell a story and show how your experience is directly relevant to what the client is looking for (tip: use the job description to ensure you have relevant examples for each of the key things the company is looking for). For each bullet you should have three components:

  • Problem – What was the business issue you were trying to solve/address? 
  • Action – What did you/your team specifically do to help solve the issue? Provide details (high level step by step) of the process you went through. You can include the kind of research you conducted, the tools you used, etc.  
  • Result – What was the quantifiable result? How did you move the needle (i.e., save/make money, reduce time, increase [something] etc. What were your key findings?  What were your deliverables?  Who did you share your findings with, etc.

Here are a few examples of resume bullets that I like

  • Led global communications for a branded product through approvals and launches in the United States and European Union.
  • Created and launched direct-to-patient campaign featuring celebrity (name), yielding 132M paid media impressions, 274,000 website visits and 1:1.3 ROI
  • Drove all communications for candidates in company’s oncology portfolio, including its late-stage candidate for breast cancer and its emerging pipeline in gene therapy.
  • Conducted competitive surveillance for small biotech company by monitoring investor presentations and scientific congress presentations.
  • Produced, coordinated and executed integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns (email, social media, SEM/SEO, video, websites, events, conferences, press releases, collateral, training materials) targeting HCP audiences
  • Managed entire email process to deliver over 4M emails a year across a $1.5B portfolio.  Created and implemented email best practices that increased open rates by 2%
  • Partnered with Patient Advocacy to execute educational initiatives designed to build awareness and set expectations surrounding the potential of gene therapy.
  • Oversaw quantitative and qualitative research, creative development and strategic planning, in preparation of multichannel marketing launch, including CRM strategy
  • Directed communications activities around key congresses, U.S. and ex-U.S. regulatory approvals and data publications such as Journal of Pediatrics
  • Facilitated day-to-day implementation of client’s digital marketing activities, including initiation of first Rx product branded sponsorship in racing and first Rx product-branded Twitter page
  • Partnered with company to establish corporate reputation as a premier oncology company following the appointment of a new CEO and subsequent expansion of pipeline.
  • Facilitated a strategic workshop the executive leadership team to create a new message platform that resonated with priority stakeholder groups and aligned with the company’s long-term vision.
  • Organized an R&D Day to disclose pipeline progress and preliminary data from lead therapy candidate

One-page, two-page, red-page, blue-page?

A common question I get is on length. One page or two?

  • One page is appropriate for people earlier on in their career (less than four years).
  • Two-pages are fine for people with more years of work experience.

Scott White specializes in recruiting communications and marketing professionals for Boston area life sciences companies. Find Scott on LinkedIn here or email him at scott@hireminds.com.