Recently I have received requests to review resumes and cover
letters for people who have completed several post docs and
wonder what can they do to attract interview attention.
Our Professional Development class is interesting because
we can use feedback from class members for future discussion
items and exercises in class.
A question came in:
Expertise also falls along a continuum.
Individuals with similar training and levels or expertise will not
necessarily agree with one another, and even if they do, these
experts are not always
Experts are often licensed, or hold licensed degrees, or are
recognized by other authorities.
In science, technology and medicine experts’ work appears
in peer-reviewed journals or on patents, recognized with
awards, running or starting a company or amassing wealth.
While many observations are continuing themes, the
following should be noted before newer items:
`How do you figure out appropriate information that is important
and verifiable, relating to your interests and goals?
We can subscribe to publications. Does that provide what you need?
GOALS- Think through your “purpose”
1- Do you like what you are now doing?
2- What do you feel and think you want to do? Like is not
enough. Purpose is about setting up a direction and a path
and pausing and allow back up plans and ideal case formulation.
3- Can you do what you want? Know the difference between
your wants and what you are competent at. Understand your
priorities and values and your organization’s priorities and values.
4- Have you define your next and following steps involving
awareness, action and accountability
5- Who can you depend on for good, reliable advice? Who
will tell you the truth without involving their personal interests?
6- What are you willing to re-pay, offer up and return?
7- What do you to learn or gain experience in?
“Cousins” of these words are everyone, no one, always and never.
HL and I had an interesting discussion about a job
application for a pharma position. We arranged the
position via email where we asked and sent draft resume,
musts-and-wants and the job description.
It is important to realize that each cover letter, resume
and contact network association needs to be targeted
and properly researched and framed.
What kind of position is being pursued?
What specific skills or experiences will be expected?
What are your specific skills/ experiences that may apply?
Who do you know who might help and provide a reference?
The position seeks BA/BS with some senior research
experience or an MS. The skills sought are LC, MS and
working with bioassay prep and data analysis.
It is a stretch to have a senior undergraduate having
these, but our discussion proved that HL had good
experiences that could be of interest. HL had done
a semester of undergraduate monomer synthesis research
in junior year. Quite interestingly, HL had completed a
semester research abroad where detailed discussion
revealed working with and troubleshooting LC-MS and
data integration systems for study of metal binding to
It is now a challenge to create a document that points
out the specific instruments and work done both abroad
and as a junior. What keywords were used in the job
description? Find a way to articulate HL’s work using
those or comparable terms. Experienced reviewers will
We talked about the big difference in working in a
research lab where things constantly go wrong or need
maintenance and calibration compared with doing an
analytical course lab experiment where everything is
pre-ordained and set up.
Then we spoke about another element– who were HL’s
references? Has HL spoken to them about interest in
the position? Can each one of three provide “good
references? Does the reference know anyone at the
firm? Can HL get to meet or speak with the possible
network referral to learn more about the position, hiring
manager, and company situation?
Does HL have a quality Linkedin page? Let’s look.
What will be critical things to provide realizing the
first use might be for this LC-MS bioassay role?
What keywords, content and organization should the
Linkedin profile have?
What started out as a request for a resume review, morphed
- job description study,
- revising a draft resume highlighting key experiences
- critically thinking through references and the roles they
assume (and, also including a reference list in the PR
- critically thinking that a professional presence is
expected (Linkedin profile and working on that)
- outlining and drafting a cover letter for submission
- seeking out people who could be referrals for the
six other important steps.
Yesterday I enjoyed a conversation with a resume reviewer
who has a senior level position in a government organization.
He shared several poignant remarks about his experiences
when he often reviews resumes to bring in candidates to
interview for technical positions.
With several requests for career paths outside the US
and in non traditional technical roles, we learned,
advised and compiled useful documents for each:
Calvin Pappas wrote about things to improve your Linkedin profiles
recently. I found it interesting in that it separates Linkedin from
the majority of profile settings by managing and controlling access
and viewership. This allows, in other words, you to manage your
profile’s “digital breadcrumbs.“
This connects us to Elizabeth Charnocks book– “E-Habits” which
attracted my attention recently. The Toronto Star offered an interesting
article describing her company, Cataphora, which creates mathematical
models of our digital presence to assess witnesses for prosecuting
attorneys, ‘bad apple’ analyses of employees [’banana peel throwers’],
future employees or whistle-blowers [Dorian Grey effect– fake
images of themselves] and other common sense images of people’s
habits that may reflect character traits.
One area of relevance to professional behaviors is the consistency
of your resume to other digital images and reflections of you on the
Internet. Their software models whether there are (intentional or
unintentional) discrepancies in your public relations documents with
the “digital YOU.”
She offers the idea of a website that creates one version of your
This leads us to receiving feedback from mentors to providing feedback
and upgrading our habits to be more in sync with our true goals. Ed
Catamull’s Creativity Inc talks at length about how speaking with candor
in a trusting and digestable manner makes us better and our efforts more
productive. He writes about the formation and development of Pixar and
generalizes on the trial and error processes they evolved in digitizing
ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
A colleague recently contacted me about applying for a
research position in his field of interest of brain imaging.
It is a small company with a limited amount of
of public information. He asked about who to address
in the cover letter and details about virus-protection
software that blocks link-containing documents.
He also wanted to explore why it was critical to join
and become an active member of a professional society.
USING MENTORS AND THE LONG TAIL
My first thoughts directed me to explore the company
in LinkedIn after studying the company website. It is
important to go beyond the website in looking for details
about any position. So a google search looking at many
pages beyond the high frequency first page is important
to use. This is also known as the search distribution
long-tail coined by Chris Anderson.
In Linkedin, I found a second degree connection to the
CEO and founder which led me to an information loaded
profile which I then shared with him.
I learned the company was a start-up, had recent funding
and had advertised the position he had interest in. So,
I forwarded a suggestion to contact the CEO by Inmail
and ask to engage in a short conversation about the
position. Before doing this he should prepare thoroughly
by having stories to tell about how he uniquely qualifies
for the position, by using information at hand about
salary ranges for the position in that area of the country,
and by having critical questions outlined for him to ask.
This is a common information interview.
Listen carefully to keywords he uses that can be
incorporated into the cover letter and resume.
If salary comes up in the discussion, reveal what your
research has provided. Then ask, how much is budgeted
for the position, rather than saying how much you wish.
Defer that discussion until you have an offer, know
what the job entails and get a sense that you like the
culture and they like you.
So, contact a person in the company before uploading
documents. This way it is not a “cold contact” application
without assessing keywords to use and a person to
address and follow up with.
COVER LETTER AND DOCUMENTS
There are three clear objectives that a cover letter provides–
explains gaps, shows a clear match for you in the position
and provides your thinking about your career movement
into the position.
Documents we upload can be blocked if they have
links in the cloud by software. So, either delink the
documents, in Word, or use .txt format without links.
People in professional fields use societies to continue
to learn important elements in their field through meetings
and publications, to share what we learn with other
professionals and to be part of the professionals
advocating for the growth and importance of the field.
We all should be members of professional technical
Good luck! ended the reply, where
LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity
Top Line Issues: Linkedin, Branding, Job search management
A. Linkedin: Kat Moon
-Summaries, Headline, and photo need to be strong and professional
graduate assistant is not good
goofy photo is a turn-off
past history bio will not convince recruiters to contact you
-Content that describes your skills needs to be relevant for new situations
course history is like a book you have read and half forgotten
proper use of verb tense, past and present for current experience, stands
out to recruiters
descriptive action verbs for accomplishments, relevant skill
endorsements need to be prioritized
B. What few words can you use to describe your most relevant skills,
applicable knowledge and abilities/contact network? Your Brand.
-Practice how you display and perform it.
-Be aware of unique features of your being- voice, smile, etc
-Show that you care and care about yourself and others.
More than thirty Chemistry field majors attended a workshop
Effective job Searching last Saturday. The topics included:
Matching your skills and interests to the job market, Job
search strategies, Resumes and cover letters, Giving presentations,
Interviewing in larger organizations, Mock interviewing and
1. More organizations are using recruiting firms to perform
screening resumes, screening interviews, and reference
checking. They are adept at the process and are generally
not responsible for the final decision. It is not ununsual for
the position to be temporary, but there are legal limits on the
length of temporary employment.
2. ITAR review to enter certain industrial sites. Organizations
who design, manufacture and work with a number of government
agencies are required to comply with International Traffic in
Arms Regulations ITAR. Thus, if you are invited on site for
interviews you will need to bring along a birth certificate,
form of ID with your photo and may be expected to leave
your cell phone at the door (no photos)..
3. Problem solving interview questions are popular again.
These may require out of the box thinking. They may require
how you might work with other applicants to solve a problem.
They may be time limited, may have no set answer and may
just demonstrate how you deal with unexpected situations.
We observed a mock interview asking: how would you design
an emergency evacuation system for this building.
4. It is hard to justify the one-page page length rule
of thumb for resumes for all kinds of positions and applicants.
Each resume, however, does need to be targeted for each
situation using keywords. It is an advertizing document for
you with a readable form and both computer and person
designed content. It needs to be brief, concise and specific
with no errors.
5. MBTI assessments were brought up several times as
helpful for preparation for your job search, for informal
meal interviews and for audience analysis for presentations.
A colleague submitted her resume, cover letter and the job
description to a career consultant. The job description, which
is a major source of content, did not reveal more than a couple
key words. Her corresponding cover letter and resume seemed
less attention deserving that it should be since she focused on
herself and not what is encouraging about the company and
how she meets the job requirements.
What do you do when you pull up a brief job description?
Knowing the company’s name you can definitely examine the
company’s website. So, one of the ways to bring positive
attention to the company in your cover letter is to show you
know the business the company is in.
One cool thing I observed in this company was coining a new
term, Admetry, which describes a software for Pharmacokinetic
and drug metabolism for everyone. The company also
represents itself as performing five classes of biomarker
See, for example.
The targeted resume and cover letter was for a position doing
MS analysis and methods development. However, besides clearly
reflecting on the those elements, they might attract attention by
mentioning their business model elements that she could
beneficially add. Search Linkedin, for example.
Beyond that there are similar job descriptions for other firms
that might also offer what a similar role in their company would
seek them to perform. Again, it is the critical keywords and
understanding the business they are in telling how you can make
Her first draft cover letter did not do this.
We led a seminar discussion that resulted from the
thoughts of Don Street about addressing the process of
reviewing our public relations documents. Don relates
that (1) first we must convert the “uninterested (or uninvested)
reader” to an “interested reader”.
Then we need to (2) convince that interested reader that
we have the insights, background and hard skills to be
successful not only in the interview, but also in the position.
The seminar discussed these after reviewing “what counts”
factors and expectations for positions in different career paths.
SCREENING WITH TRADITIONAL DOCUMENTS
It is common knowledge that most corporate and government
employers use applicant tracking system software or
grade submitted applications packages. Thus, targeted
resumes using specific key words are important to convert
the uninterested to interested reader. Much the same
occurs in academia using CVs and cover letter to introduce
yourself to the review committee.
NEW AGE SCREENING WITH LINKEDIN
Recruiters now also strategically use your Linkedin
profile to predominantly screen potential candidates, but
also interrogate an in depth profile on you. Part of
push-pull marketing that we should perform.
We then reviewed some “other ” documents that may
enhance your candidacy, including, corporate career path,
- linkedin profile
- list of projects
- accomplishment summary (research, for example)
- field research (business development, for example)
- synopsis of patent, copyright, review article
- summary of industry insights
For academic career paths, “other” documents include
- teaching philosophy
- research proposals (preparation helped by having research
- note also Heilmeier commandments
- start up funding and equipment list
- course description and syllabus
- “five slides” document (prepared for screening interviews)
- management philosophy
- registration in ResearchGate
Government positions “other” documents include
- Master resume in USAJobs.gov
- targeted resumes with keywords throgh USAJobs.gov
- DD-214 military record
look also at federalgovernmentjobs.us/forms.html
where you are asked about KSAs knowledge, skills and
Received a Question: “Met someone who asked me to send him my
resume so he could give it to people he knows… Should I include
a cover letter, or does the email serve that purpose?“
As we all realize and career advisers have mentioned, so much more
is done through emails now. However, it might not serve you to
send the resume or the cover letter within the email itself.
So much communication is conducted on smartphones and
tablets resulting in loss of formatting and it is challenging to
read page long documents on smaller devices.
Please consider sending a shorter email and add one attachment
that contains your cover letter, resume, list of references, list of
papers, presentations and patents and other public relations
This brings up the topic of email etiquette for professionals.
Cheryl Tan wrote a piece in WSJ “Mind your Email Manners“
which elaborates on a few items. Here we would like to have
you think about creating professional email “habit stack.“
Tan recommends to compose ‘formal’ emails by starting with a
salutation, an up front greeting and a formal structure and
appropriate wording, punctuation and content.
Before that consider the reader first and compose a clear subject
line that fits the content. Often times, bullet points can make it
easier to read with phrases, rather than full sentences. But avoid
emoticons and “text-speak”.
Email Habit Stack
1. Know when to send an email. Send when required and expected.
Sending email creates more email (and we all receive more than enough
as it is.)
1.a. If a response is expected or required, indicate you will reply
within a certain period. But let the sender know you have received it.
1.b. If it is important, ask– is email the best medium?
1.c. Avoid debating complex or sensitive matters via email. Too much
communication is missed in textual formats.
1.d. Let the addressee line guide you about replies. If you are a
recipient, acknowledge receipt. It could even be Thank you or Done.
2. Don’t check email first think in the morning, or last thing at night.
Doing this can lead to burnout. What you do first thing in the morning
can set up your whole day.
3. Set an agenda for each day with limited email check times.
4. Keep your subject line current over a long thread. (Gmail does not
do this. Makes it hard to distinguish.)
5. Conclusions and bottom lines should be expressed first. Emails are
read quickly. Give additional context later.
6. Express your thoughts and feelings politely and with an upbeat
manner as humor and sarcasm can easily be misinterpreted.
7. Include attachments. But be wary of trying to send too many. Send
multiple messages and make it explicit about what you are doing.
8. Review your document for spelling, composition, brevity, economy
of words and consider the “5 second rule.” You should be able to find what
you seek on a screen in 5 seconds.
9. Be formal when you are not familiar with the organization mores.
Ask, if you are not certain about acceptable practices.
There is no right or wrong language. Context, convention and
circumstance are all!
CARDINAL RULES OF EMAIL
- if you can not say something face to face, don’t do it online
- it is permanent and not private
- be careful about reply all and bcc:
- avoid all lower case and all capitals
- shorter paragraphs (think about the receiver)
- copyright and plagiarism issues apply
In today’s competitive and uncertain, virtual and interactive,
career and job-assignment marketplace, technical resumes
are only one part of your public relations portfolio.
INTERNET PRESENCE: LINKEDIN PROFILE
Any consultant or reviewer who examines and critiques
only one document is shortsighted and not necessarily
offering you up-to-date advice. Why? We are approaching,
if we have not already reached, a ‘virtual presence’ world.
Your presence (or absence from) in the Internet is larger
and may be more critical for you achieving your goal of
interacting with company representatives. You have to
pay strong attention to addressing this market place.
The profile can be targeted differently than your specific
resume file that you send to each individual company.
Lindsey Pollack and Arnie Fertig highlight many
features of resumes vs. profiles and Linkedin’s mission.
In addition, it can be valuable to have a master resume
that you maintain throughout your career. It contains
all your personal information from which you
choose items to include in targeted resumes and
Organization, ease of reading, use of significant-in-
your-field keywords and ethical behaviors are important.
(Resumes also: brevity, specificity and clarity)
CONTENT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROLES
I respect Tom Kellum who reported that resumes
“rule people out.’ In the business side of the enterprise.
the hiring authority seeks a person who can help her
reach her goals faster. The resume, he points out, reveals
the past and not the “intangible futures.” On the technical
side of the enterprise, describing our accomplishments
reveals our Key Skills and Abilities KSA which can be
applied to solve problems and innovate.
So, not only are there differences in hard copy and
virtual documents, each of which is searchable, but
also different roles will represent us with different
styles of content.
Due to this, there are sometimes “grey areas” in the
ways things are described. In addition, some people
might misrepresent titles, dates, areas of responsibility,
accomplishments and other details to make
themselves appear more attractive. Comments in
various places point out there is little or no checking,
in the virtual world. [This is a potential downside.
Rest assured, however, most significant, untrue content is
eventually discovered and there are serious con-
The grey areas extend to the ATS Applicant tracking system
software tools that review and find our profile or resume.
ATS output from our resumes can be erroneous as well.
It is a computer output without human intervention.
Public relations documents are an inexact science that
we have to work through to manage our careers.
- master resume should be comprehensive and correct
- Linkedin profile should be complete and regularly
updated [if project based or entrepreneurial, consider
a web-page as well]
- targeted resumes, technical or business focused
- each item should be keyword rich
- follow ACS integrity guidelines.
Reminder: Don Straits indicates the resume file contains
cover letter, resume, list of publications, patents and
presentations, specialized addenda (like research
summary, industry summary, patent review, management
philosophy, etc.) and list of references.
So often career consultants get requests to review resumes
by nearly-ready-for-thesis-and-defense PhD or MS student or
a post doc. When career consultants ask, for good reason,
what position are they applying for, they say:
The resume they send me will not land them an interview.
The reason is: the document is an incomplete mixture of a
CV and a resume that does not answer the questions each
kind attempts to offer to the reviewer.
The resume writer, not knowing what career path to aim for first,
might best begin by completing a “master resume” or complete
CV with all personal date. Jessica Holbrook Hernandez nicely
described the Master Resume as a resource document containing
every skill, valid dates, all positions and accomplishments,
no matter whether in school, as a volunteer or for employment.
All of the information does not necessarily end up in a
targeted resume which would be sent to land an interview for an
industrial position nor in a CV for academic positions.
In all cases, though, we need to include Keywords used in
the field or industry. If a person applies to different organizations
for example, one might use NMR for another you might use MRI.
I am always surprised that people use some standard Office
format, when they should realize not everyone uploads
preserving the formatting. (Read the instructions link for
uploading) Or, that your name should be on
each page with its page number, except page 1.
Another surprise is presuming that the resume reviewer
will be able to figure out the formatting or will understand the
unique meanings of things like: ‘pristene graphene,’ phi
lambda upsilon, and ccd (not charge coupled device).
In 2014 the resume document alone is insufficient. So
much transpires on the Internet, you need to also have
a strong, attractive and complete profile on the web. One
of the most common is a Linkedin Profile. A solid
commentary on areas to emphasize is given by Interns over
40 blog. It is not a bad idea to list this information in the
Recent graduates and post-docs seem to be better prepared for
industrial positions now if they have either been in a co-op
program or been involved in internships. We point to a broader
article on the practice of internships and highlight useful
ideas (namely proceed with caution for unpaid positions and
have a very good idea why you want the experience and what
you will do with the experience.).
While I still recommend value in creating a master
resume or CV to capture all of your experiences, credentials,
projects, avocations, and areas of work interest, specifically
targeted with keywords ready for scanning documents are
what a leading resume coach recommends.
One of the better recent articles describing retirement
planning is pointed out. It points out some considerations
that might influence organization, planning and spending
INTERNSHIP ROUTE TO EMPLOYMENT
SOURCE: The Economist, 9-6-14, p. 61
“Generation i” (small i)
From one point of view this article reviews the history
of interns and experiences of mostly “unpaid internships”
which seem to be a last choice option. The “comments”
section offers a rebuttal that the article misses paid
internships in technical positions lasting 2-6 months.
Paid internships in the best of cases (25%) offers
an in-person experience that is outside of the academic
arena and is an investment in you.
UPDATED PERSPECTIVE ON RESUMES
SOURCE: Career Hub, Jean Cummings
“The Kind of resume that works now“
Jean really emphasizes the need to study the job
description carefully and pick out the job titles
and keywords unique to the position. Then
incorporate them into your cover letter and your
resume in context. ATS software is the rule such
that once it is scanned and sorted reviewers spend
5-6 seconds reading an easy to read, specific,
and targeted resume.
SOURCE: R. Kapadia, Barrons, 9-22-14, p. 23
Point by point discussion first discussing myths
- spending in retirement is fluid, not constant
- within 10 years of retirement, half are single,
especially lower educated
- the impact of children/minors is substantial
Then, covering Important steps which include:
- regularly updated budgeting, manage your cash
flow and plan state and federal taxes
- have fewer fixed expenses; pay things off
- behavioral economics applies– in down
years, spend less
- very good advice on tax diversification
Added notes on Long term care
- it will happen
- industry is changing , select broadest definition
of care givers, begin reimbursements after
calendar days (not service days)
- pay attention to elimination period
This tool is constructed to list pros-cons, questions-
answers, requirements-fulfillment, and professional development
plans-how you meet or satisfy.
Commonly, we use T-chart format with bullets in a cover
letter to industrial and business concerns to display
quickly and efficiently the job requirements from a job
description, in column A, and how we satisfy them, in column
B– directly across the page from one another.
The T-chart can also be used to prepare for interviews by
listing typical questions, in column A, and key features to your
responses, in column B.
I have seen it being used to take notes from an informational
interview where you can list your questions, column A, and the
response from a knowledgeable person in column B.
In fact, you can use this tool to organize and capture
information from an interview by listing your questions
in column A and the interviewer’s responses in column B.
An example of using T-charts for managing careers is
given in career thought leader’s blog.