Resume Tips for Entry Level Biology Jobs
If you're searching for entry level biology jobs or jobs for biology majors but not getting interviews, stop! Make sure you're not making these 4 resume mistakes.
A resume is probably the most important career tool you can use to change your life, yet it's often hard to get started. If you're currently applying to positions but not getting any responses, you're probably getting filtered out during the resume screening process - severely limiting your career options and job potential.
Remember that a carefully crafted resume takes time to perfect. If you have only written a couple of resumes before, you may be ignoring some key elements that recruiters look for.
Here's 4 common resume mistakes that biology graduates make when considering careers for life sciences or applying to entry level jobs for biology majors. As you go through each of the points, make a note of how to address each area in your own applications.
LEAVING IN GENERIC JARGON
“Highlight stories that reflect what you're trying to say with buzzwords.”
If you look at your resume right now, there's probably quite a few points that really don't add anything to your application. For instance, did you write you're a "Team player" or "Results-oriented"? Many applicants make the critical mistake of including filler words in their resumes as they simply copy and paste online templates. Instead, try a different approach - remove the buzzwords and let your actions speak for themselves! Highlight stories that reflect what you're trying to say with buzzwords. This always makes for a much better resume as you're now focusing on your own unique career journey.
For instance, as you think about replacing jargon in your resume, think about times when you demonstrated the particular skills in question. When you start out, this process might be difficult. To make it a little bit easier, utilize a mapping strategy. List out all your positions and the specific tasks you've completed. Now, think about the skills you have demonstrated for each of the tasks. Try to write down as many as you can, you can always refine this list further! Once this is done, go a step further. For each of the skills, try to think about why that skill is important to the employer and more specifically, the hiring manager. At this stage, it's worthwhile to look a the the job description to try and connect the dots. After finishing this mapping exercise, you will have a much better idea of how to sell yourself as a candidate.
Most importantly, you will have a customized resume for those entry level jobs for biology majors!
FOCUSING ON IRRELEVANT DETAILS
As a biology graduate, you might have a wealth of technical expertise. However, you need to understand that a resume focuses on transferable skills. Your new job is probably going to be very different from what you've learned in the laboratory. Furthermore, the person reading your resume is not an expert on your specific research topic. Make sure you remove extremely technical qualifications that might hinder your application and rephrase them to something meaningful.
For example, did you write a scientific article on frog embryos? Rephrase it to focus on communication skills and your writing abilities. If the job description does put heavy emphasis on academic papers (for instance, one for a medical science liaison position), include your publications in a separate file from your resume and cover letter. Many job portals provide the ability to submit additional documents - use this to your advantage!
If you're applying to entry level jobs for biology majors, you may feel that you don't have enough experience for a particular posting, causing you to really stretch your achievements to take up space! This is a huge mistake and it only show you can't communicate effectively. Remember, a resume is a concise version of your career journey, keep it short and sweet! It's always better to have more white space than walls of text.
On the other hand, if you still feel like you don't have enough content as you're applying to that entry level biology job, write a strong paragraph for your personal summary. The summary can touch on your previous career journey and where you're going in the future.
Another section that candidates often do not include is a "Core Competencies" section. This section can provide meaningful content if you still have lots of white space remaining. Most importantly, it will allow you to shine as an applicant. In essence, this is a collection of around 5-10 bullet points that show how your skills and experiences will allow you to succeed in that entry level biology role. Sounds familiar? This is essentially a bullet version of the mapping exercise, so don't forget to do it!
Consider that the hiring manager is going to spend around 6 seconds on your resume to decide if you're a good fit or not. They have limited time, so you have to make every second count! Here's a tip: Use the fact that people tend to skim in an upside-down pyramid to your advantage.
This means that when you're positioning content, place the more relevant items first. For instance, the first bullet point under any work experience will always be the most read. On a side note, if you're rearranging sections in your resume, it's always important to keep industry standards in mind. For example, a consulting resume will look completely different from a medical writer one.
Finally, make sure the resume is uncluttered and the design is neat and tidy. Don't go overboard with custom fonts and graphics - but make sure your resume is easy to read.
If you're considering a new life sciences career as a biology graduate, make sure to update your resume and cover letter. These documents can go a long way in helping you secure a position.
Thanks for reading! Applying to entry level biology jobs or jobs for biology majors but not getting interviews? Thinking about different careers for life sciences? You may be interested in doing a free resume assessment on The Academic Blueprint's homepage.