Refreshing Your Resume

No matter where you are in your professional career, you need a current resume (or other personal data document).  The format may vary, but if you don’t keep track of your own professional accomplishments, who will?  Keeping an up to date, comprehensive document will allow you to respond quickly to opportunities as they arise.

Update It

Make it a habit to add new published papers, presentations, continuing education, awards, and significant professional accomplishments as they are completed.  Create a “library” version that includes everything, without worrying about length.  Include your current contact information with the URL of your LinkedIn profile, if you have one. Make sure all your educational degrees are listed, along with your professional employment history.  Under experience, make sure to list your most significant accomplishments, using quantitative sentence fragments, not complete sentences.  For example, “Developed new synthetic method for crucial starting material, resulting in 25% time savings and 35% cost reduction.”

If you haven’t completely overhauled your resume within the last few years, it’s probably due.  Does it still accurately reflect your professional self? Does it indicate where you are going? Should you consolidate older information, to make room for new?  There’s no page limit on your library version, but your final resume should be concise, ideally no more than two pages. Reflect carefully on your most significant accomplishments, and what quantifiable impact they had, and list them. Everything on the resume should be professional (no humorous email addresses) and any extracurricular activities should demonstrate skills that are relevant to the position.

Keep the formatting simple, with plenty of white space, so the reader can scan it easily.  Don’t get too fancy with graphics and layout, especially if you know it’s going to be scanned electronically.

Customize It

When it’s time to apply for a new job, for your annual review, or to be nominated for an award, you will be ready to take that library version and customize it for any purpose.

Research the specific job requirements, then put your most relevant skills and accomplishments first, supporting information later, and omit irrelevant information to keep it short and concise. You will be amazed at the benefits when you take the time to familiarize yourself with what the recruiter is looking for, and tweak your resume to match. Echo keywords used in the job description, and include outside activities relevant to their corporate values, making it obvious that you offer exactly what they need.

Perfect It

No matter how many times you’ve read your resume, you’re sure to miss something.  Have someone else with good editing skills, read through it carefully to point out any errors or inconsistencies.  Have fellow chemists read through it, to make sure all the information is clear, concise, and presented in the best possible light.

By having your professional data current and collected in one place, you will be ready to respond quickly to opportunities as they arise.

Get Involved In The Discussion

Welcome to the ACS Career Tips column. Each month, this column provides advice and answers to career-related questions on a variety of topics, from job search to career development and transitions.  Post your comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns on the ACS Careers blog ( — Brought to you by ACS Careers.

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