Resume: your biggest selling point or the document of your own demise

You know the old saying, “you’re only as good as your last project?” Well, whether you’re a recent college graduate or a veteran employee, you’re only as good as the latest version of your resume.

With college graduates pouring out of their academic institutions, the summer can be…an interesting time of year to job hunt – couple that with a poorly written resume and you can begin to see what happens to your chances of actually landing a job that you want, let alone the job of your dreams.

Resume writing for some can be a daunting endeavor – you literally have to have the ability to sell yourself in the document, because in some cases, it’s the only thing that a hiring manager is going to see.

General Tips: how to make the most of your first impression

Below is a list of some important tips that everyone should follow when updating their resume, which should be done after every new employment, or when you pick up a new skill, earn a degree, certificate, or continue your education in some way, and should be modified for every different type of position that you apply for.

  1. How to save your resume: save your resume as a PDF file when sending directly to a person over email or when posting via social media, but save it as a Word document when using an online application submittal form. A PDF will preserve layout and is visible on every computer, but for some submittal tools, it is not accepted. Have both file types on hand and you’ll be ready for every type of position and portal that comes your way
  2. Use a professional email address: if you don’t have one,, make a new one,
  3. Do not list a generic or irrelevant objective: if you include one at all, make it thoughtful, customized, and, well, objective
  4. Do not list friends as references: the key tip here, don’t list someone who would list you as their reference
  5. Include a cover letter: this is your chance to be conversational with a hiring manager, don’t pass it up

Professionals-specific resumes: resources and guidelines

Now for the specifics. is a good starting point for resume formatting, and it’s free. is another good, free resource. If you’re just starting out, research how professionals in the field write their resumes and ask people you know who are in a similar position to see what their resume looks like. The key takeaway being, don’t just write a generic looking resume; it could eliminate you from consideration for a position if your resume is not formatted correctly and to industry standards. An Executive-level website for resume writing, which has membership fees associated with it should you wish to indulge in the extended version of their website, is

A general rule of thumb for professionals and their resumes: when applicable, include numbers. For example, when discussing budgets, cost savings, and the like, include exact figures. Aside from that, and broken down by industry, here are a few specific factoids to keep in mind:

1. Engineering:

Depending on specialty and number of years of experience, you may have a dozen or more projects to list on your resume. Be sure to include a project list, but if this list causes you to overflow onto a third page, separate it onto its own sheet.

2. Finance & Accounting:

It’s important to convey what you can do for a company’s fiscal health. You can accomplish this by highlighting previous experience and contributions made while in a similar role, or if just starting out, list out certifications and specific accomplishments, albeit academic, intern-related, or an area of interest or expertise that you developed while studying. The key is to focus on skills and specifically what you can do for an employer’s bottom line.

3. Healthcare:

Funding within the healthcare industry has drastically decreased over the last two decades and it’s important to reflect your skills, experience, commitment to quality, and above all, an ability to evaluate yourself and those around you in a healthcare resume.

  • A resume is preferred for healthcare professionals seeking administrative or back-office operations. For management positions, list experience in reverse-chronological order
  • A Curriculum Vitae, “Course of One’s Life”, or a CV is used for those in medical, academic, and scientific professions and should have a tone of understated modesty

4. Human Resources:

The role of the Human Resources department is expanding. Not only do these employees hire, fire, and handle personnel-related issues, but they also act as administrators, consultants to top executives, and even handle social media. An HR resume needs to highlight all job responsibilities that you understand and have already dealt with, and needs to illustrate how you’ve made a difference to an organization – include experience with benefits plans, the maintenance of employee relations, understanding legal compliance, and the like.

5. Information Technology:

It is critical to include a Technical Summary or a Technical Expertise section in an IT resume. Within the summary, list out specific skills as it relates to technical certifications, hardware, operating systems, networking/protocols, programming/languages, web applications, and database applications. Make it clear what your technical skill set is and how you could contribute to the project, position, and/or the company that you’re applying to.

6. Pharma/Life Sciences:

An important tip to keep in mind when writing a Pharma/Life Sciences resume is that your audience can vary, from those with scientific backgrounds, to those with a limited understanding. Keep your Summary of Qualifications section simple and understandable, and when listing out previous experience, include a sentence or two about the company and what they do. Be sure to list any Professional Associations, Publications, and Speaking Engagements, if applicable.

If you are applying for a position that is non-scientific in nature, list out any trial experience you might have, any certifications and/or accreditations that you’ve received as they relate to the Pharma/Life Sciences field, and any regulations, compliances, and/or laws that you have experience working with.

By: BusinessandWorkplace / On: June 12, 2012 /

In: Job Seeker, Resume


Recent Posts