What is a resume?

A resume is a summary, a sketch, not your curriculum vitae or your whole life on two pieces of paper.  Here is what some people think is the difference

handshake19The whole purpose of a resume is to get the hiring manager interested enough in what you can do for him that he will contact you for more information and to see if you are a “fit” for the job, the company and the team. 

Yes, what you include in your resume is important, as are the words you chose to use to describe your actions, but it is as important to eliminate fluff, wordiness and irrelevant topics.  It has to be short and answer the question – why should I hire this person?

[ tweet this! “A resume is a piece of advertising designed to get you an interview!”]

A resume is a piece of advertising.  And the more tightly you can target it to that particular hiring manager, the more likely you are to get the interview. 

You have to answer the hiring manager’s “pain”.  Why is he going through the pain of posting and interviewing when he really wants to be getting the job done?  What has he run out of that he needs to buy it from you or your competing candidates?  How can you supply him with the answers he needs to know that you are the one who can make his pain go away?


What does the hiring manager really need? 

When you agonize over your resume or, alternatively, have someone else write it for you, you are thinking about yourself and not about that hiring manager.  It is as if you want to go to the prom, get all dressed up and then go stand outside the door, waiting for someone to invite you. 

Do you know what you have to offer that hiring manager as well as what he needs.  Can you speak his language? Use it when you talk about how you already fixed that problem (for someone else)? Describe how you can do it again, perhaps even better since you have learned more about it.

Make it easier to write your resume/advertisement!

Dragon Green

Dragon Green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Resumes are notoriously hard to write for yourself because you don’t have the list of words describing what you have done.

Don’t start with adjectives, start with verbs.  What tasks have you accomplished?  What did you do? 

I love PAR statements.  Some call them dragon-slaying tales.  Describe the problem (what was the name of the dragon)?  What action did you take?  (Which tools did you use and how did you approach the dragon?  How did you slay it?)  Then what happened?  What result was achieved?  (Did the villagers go on to harvest more than they could eat in two decades?)  What are your dragon-slaying stories?

Click here for help with your PAR statements and dragon-slaying stories


revised 4/19/17

How does hiring work and where do recruiters fit in anyway?

Let’s think about the way hiring works

and where recruiters fit into it. 



You are looking for your next job.  

You know what you have done in the past and have inkling about what you want to do next.  You have checked the job boards, even sent in your lifetime CV, but no bites, or you have had phone interviews but no invitation for a face-to-face interview.  What is going on?

Someone is doing your job plus his own. 

He knows that he is not going to be able to get both done in the time frame needed.  Eventually the boss does too.  The boss says, “Dang, we need to hire someone.  Who do we know?”  75% of jobs are filled by the people known to the team, either in-house or through the team’s professional and personal networks.

If they don’t know the right person,

or the people they do know are not interested in that job, the boss calls HR and says, “Hire me a (insert title here).”  HR finds a position description, if the hiring manager doesn’t give her one, and posts the job to the company career page.  Hundreds of people apply, but only about 2% are invited for interviews.  20% of jobs are filled this way.  Because of the inflow of resumes and applications, HR defends their time by using a computer program called an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) which sends an automatic reply to each applicant saying, “Thanks, we will let you know.”  It then matches the keywords and phrases in each application/resume to the position description uploaded by HR. 

If you have enough of the same key words,

your resume gets tagged and a human (probably the intern or clerk), looks at your resume to review it against the other ones that made it through the “black hole” (ATS).  This person makes a selection of what he/she thinks are the top few and either passes them to the hiring manager, calls to do a “phone screen” or hands them off to another HR person who specializes in recruiting to review and pass on to the hiring manager.

When the hiring manager has time,

he/she reviews those few resumes, picks the top 3-5 and either calls or has HR do a phone screen if one has not been done already.  If he/she likes what he hears, then his admin will make an interview appointment for you.   Most hiring managers don’t have much time since they are trying to get the problem solved or meet the deadline, so this step can take far longer then you would expect.

If neither of these methods works, a recruiter is brought in for this particular job. 

Recruiters only know about the jobs their corporate clients have asked them to fill.  There might be 20 different jobs on the company career page, but the recruiter has only been hired to find the few people to interview for one role. 

Are you money on the hoof?

Some recruiters, called contingency recruiters, do send resumes for many jobs that are posted.  Most bioscience companies don’t accept these resumes and have a note on the career page that says so.  A contingency recruiter might shop your resume around to their various clients or potential clients, but only if, in their experience, you look like “gold” to them. 

No one knows all the jobs out there. 

And no one knows all the jobs that might be available for you.  And only you know what is interesting. 

Programs and Products

My programs, delivered by private coaching or group classes, are designed to teach job seekers how to be visible online with the right keywords, known to the people in the departments in the companies that those particular job seekers find interesting, how to be remembered before someone else for a job, how to be liked and trusted enough to be invited to submit a resume.  Click here for private coaching or free open office hours.

A resume does not get you a job. 

A resume is a piece of marketing collateral designed to get you an interview.  It must be tailored to each job because it needs to get through the ATS. Then the people who look at it to review before passing it on to the hiring manager will give you, perhaps 6, seconds of their time.  Even if you use all of the keywords in the position description, if, in the last few years, you have not done what they need to have done, they will discard your resume.

Do you know what keywords you want to use?  Are you visible on LinkedIn?

Do you have your list of top ten most interesting companies?

Are you networking with people in the department you want to work in in each of those companies?

Have you been invited to submit a resume?

Does the resume speak directly to the problem that that department is trying to solve?


If all of these things are true, then I’d be happy to look over your resume for a particular company.  If they are not, I offer LinkedIn Profile Reviews.  You get a recorded review and suggestions for how to improve your resume or Profile. 

If not, you might want to check out my website at: BioScience Job Kit – At A Glance for more help.

Know, remember, like and trust

Hand outstretched for a handshakeHow does anyone get hired? 

First you have to be known.  Resumes are simply one way for the hiring manager to get to know you.  Today there are many, many ways.  Profiles online, face-to-face meetings for coffee, or beer, or golf, or… introductions by mutual friends, online or off.  You have to be known for what you can do for them.  I know lots of people who are not in the bioindustry, so I’m of no use to them for many jobs and I’m not likely to place them in my client companies.  You know many people outside your industry and there are many people you know whose industry you don’t know.  How can you be known by the people in your industry whom you want to know you?

Once known, you need to be remembered when your skills are needed.  Are you following up regularly?  You need to stay top of mind.  And you don’t want to be a stalker or annoying.  How can you help at least four times before you ask for something?

If you have met the right people and are remembered, are you liked enough for the people to want to work with you?  Studies have shown that many hires are made on “gut feelings”, which is to say, did the hiring manager like you.  It is not a good way to hire, but you might as well take it into consideration.  You will not stay employed for long if no one likes you at that company or if you don’t like them.

Trust is needed because you will be taking a part in growing their “baby”.  Whatever project you are hired to work on is the cherished idea of someone in the company.  Are you trustworthy?  Can you see, embrace and forward their vision?  And how can you convey that to the recruiter and hiring team? 

What do you think? 

What are the steps in a job search?

4 big steps to your next job

Job search needs to be organized, not just shooting your resume or your elevator speech in all directions. 

Many people wait for the Fairy Job Mother to drop a job in their lap. That doesn’t work.

Others post their need for a job on social media.  Only Lady Luck can respond. Companies don’t hire because you need a job.

Still others apply to any job that looks interesting, using their generic, personal, whole life on two pages, resume.  Your chances of getting a phone screen/phone interview are about 2% at any of the 200 companies you will need to send it to.

Others meet with their current friends, and perhaps even acquaintances, for coffee and chat.  If you friends are not in your industry niche, they won’t have any good leads for you.  They will have lots of off-target suggestions.

The people who hunt for their next job, using a real plan and set weekly goals find their next, good, job quickly and will have set up a network that will help them find each job after that.

These are the steps you need to take to be in this last group.  75% of all jobs are filled through the “who do we know” method.  Who knows you?  What do they know about you?

  • All about you: What you offer, what you want and where you want it. How to build your LinkedIn and other social Profiles so the right people can find you.
  • https://biosciencejobkit.com/bioscience-li-checklist
  • All about them:  Companies that meet your criteria, who works there, and how to get to be known by them.
  • Reaching out – a networking plan, one-on-one, in person and at events and follow up
  • Resumes and Interviews – how to write your own and how to prepare for the interviews 

Do You Believe in Magic?


By Duff Watkins, Cornerstone International – Australia

Guest Blogger

As an executive search consultant (a “head hunter”), I’m regularly asked what’s the best way for a person to find new employment and as a former psychotherapist, I’m always wondering why  the truth doesn’t sink in.

A surprising number of adults believe in magic when it comes to searching for employment.  Too many people are “mired in myth” when it comes to job-hunting.

Beware of these 6 myths that produce misery!

1) Recruiters find jobs for people.

No. Recruiters find people for jobs not jobs for people.  In the world of executive search the cold reality is, if you’re good at your work, and if your skills are currently being sought, you’ll be found whether you’re employed or not.

2) Recruiters are always looking for candidates.

False. Executive search is an exercise in research not chance.  Getting a job by simply sending your unsolicited resume to an executive search firm is about as likely as getting hit by a piece of Halley’s Comet.  Recruiters do not spend much time with people who cannot purchase their services because recruiters are busy either completing their assignments or selling their services to potential clients.  Failure to do either is commercial suicidal.

3) “Head hunters” can help.

Maybe, but it largely depends on whether you have a good personal relationship with the consultant.  A recruiter’s task is to sell his services to potential clients and then complete assignments on behalf of those clients.  Your task is to find a job that suits you.  Unless there is a genuine benefit to the consultant to speak or meet with you, why should they?

4) Consultants know where all the job vacancies are.

They don’t.  Nobody does.  Consultants –when they’re fortunate enough to get the work– handle few assignments at any time.  For every 1 job vacancy being handled by a consultant, there are probably 80 being filled through other means.  Fact: 80% of all job vacancies are unadvertised.  You’re just as likely as a recruiter to discover job vacancies if you look.

5) Recruitment companies have many jobs “on their books”.

There are no “books”; there are no “jobs”; there are only job vacancies, some of which a consultant may know about, and a few of which they may handle.  Consultants do not have a stockpile of job vacancies which they dole out parsimoniously to unemployed people.

6) Somebody else can tell you the work for which you’re best suited.

Your life, your career, your interests and your job search is your responsibility and no one else’s.  No recruiter, “head hunter” or consultant is competent to direct your life.

Here are 5 non-magical ways of seeking employment successfully:

1) 40 Hours a Week.

Most people simply have no idea how much work is required to obtain a job.  Getting a good job requires effort: 40 hours (minimum) per week.  If you’re not investing that amount of time, you’re wasting it.  There is no substitute for “hard yakka.”

2) 20 seconds / 50 words

Before calling a consultant, make sure you have something to say.  If you can’t say in 20 seconds (or less) and 50 words (or less) exactly what work you want to do and where you want to do it, then you haven’t thought deeply enough about your career.

3) Construct A Network

“Networking” (ie, establishing and using personal contacts) is essential when seeking new employment.  The network of people who can help you in your job search is constructed not inherited.  You’re not born with it; you have to go out and meet the people you need to know.  Is this easy?  No, if it was easy everyone would already have the job they want.

4) Give The Takeaway

In marketing terms a “takeaway” is what you want the other person to take away from meeting you. Your “takeaway” is your distinguishing characteristic; it’s why others will remember you; it identifies what you can do for them.  In commercial terms, it is the reason why employers may want to meet with you, interview you or hire you.  If you can’t identify your “takeaway,” you haven’t done your homework.

5) Magic = Tragic

If you believe that worthwhile employment will magically come your way through the efforts of any person other than yourself, you’re tragically mistaken.  Belief in such magic is really a reluctance to think for one’s self.  Job seekers who believe in magic think that it’s easier for everybody but them.  They think that getting a good job is a matter of luck, fate, karma, planetary alignments, being young enough, being old enough, having the right connections etc. The truth is, it’s mostly a matter of working hard and smart.

Do you believe in magic?

The Psychological Bottom Line is this:  some people refuse to think deeply about what they want from work (or life) because it’s too difficult.  And it is difficult!  It can be extremely difficult to figure out what you really want from work or life.  It would be great if someone else could figure it out for you and then tell you what to do.  Truth is, no one can help you until you decide what you really want to do.  That’s the “bad news.”

The “good news” is that deep down in your heart you already know exactly what you want.  

It’s just buried, hidden, concealed from consciousness, therefore you can’t articulate it– yet.  The trick is to drag your deepest desires up to the surface of your awareness.  There are several ways of doing this but here’s the simplest: sit down, think hard, and write down what you enjoy doing.  Until you’re clear on that, there’s little point in asking consultants for advice.

Want a template to help you decide? Click here

Do you have a step-by-step plan for your job search?

Looking for a new or next job can be completely overwhelming.  It is not something that we take classes in for years, like English or Math or whatever our major is or was.  It seems that everyone simply expects us to know how to do it or that getting a job is a judgment of our personal worthiness. 

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it is not something that you are born knowing.  Job search skills are just that – skills that can be taught and learned. 

But like any skill, it must be practiced and you have to know what you are doing first and for each step of the way.

I’ve drawn you a map:

Job Search Map

Job Search Map

For more information, contact Connie Hampton at connie@biosciencejobkit.com

How to find a job

What is the best way to find a job?

You know the answer – networking.  Another way to look at it is that finding a job is a sales and marketing job.  If you have never had a sales job, and even if you have had, it can be difficult to look at your career as a product to be sold.  We all become 17 again – certain that there are a million of us wanting the same job with exactly the same set of (minimal) skills.  But no, you are unique – your skills and experiences are uniquely your own and the job is to find the company that needs exactly those skills.  So this becomes a treasure hunt.  And you need to ask for help.

Networking is when you give something that doesn’t cost you too much to someone who values it and he/she does the same.  Each networking session is one where you need to give, not beg.  And you need to give enough (the rule of thumb is 4 times before you ask for something) that the person you are interacting with wants to give you something in return.

How Many Applicants Get Interviewed? Will You?

You have become one of the applicants for the job you think you want next.You sweat over your resume, spend hours finding jobs on the job boards, spend even more time applying and attaching your resumes and get that email that says “thanks, we will contact you if we have a job for you” and then you wait. And wait.  And wait.

What is going on behind the closed doors?

Where most applicants' resumes go

First your resume and application are screened by the ATS– applicant tracking system – the one that asked you so many questions that seemingly had nothing to do with the position, into the file for that position, if and only if your resume contains the right title and keywords that were set up for the job.

Then it sits there and waits for the HR clerk or recruiter or perhaps, if you are very lucky, the hiring manager to run a search for the responses to the open positions. These file searches will also look for people who have applied before for similar roles, so your resume that you sent last year will still be in the system.

Appearing on the screen are only the resumes sent for that job and any that were previously sent that have used the keywords used in the job posting.  The reviewer then reads through the reduced number of files, perhaps even your resume and cover letter and makes a decision – yes, move to the next step or maybe, hold on to to see if there is anyone who is a better match and no, not for this one.  Sometimes even Oh, No!  He applied again for a different position and we never want to see him again.

This may be done once a week for 2-4 weeks as a policy.  Then the yes folder is looked at and sorted again.  The top ones, certainly no more than 10 and maybe only 5, are sent to the hiring manager to review. This can take a week or more.  Of these, perhaps three will move on to a phone screen and, if the phone screen goes well, a face to face interview.

Most job posting receive 99 “not a fit” resumes for every 1 that fits.  So if you don’t get the call, you have been screened out at one of at least 3 steps.

What can you do?  First, don’t apply for jobs that really are not a fit for your skills and experience – if you apply to the same company too many times, even if the next time really does fit you, you may already have been labeled an “Oh, NO!”.

Secondly, use the keywords and phrases in the position description liberally.  Even if there are six ways to say something, use the way it is phrased in the position description – computers are stupid and HR clerks may not really know what it is that you do.

Third, recruiters call this method “Post and Pray”.  There are many, many other ways to get hired.  Learn some of those skills at our upcoming Open Office Hours.






updated 3/29/17

Getting noticed: Why?

Who notices you?  Do they know how what you can do could be used by them or their network?  Do you have to brag? How can you work it into the conversation?  Whom do you notice?  Why? What about them stands out?


After you notice them, do you wish you had not?  What do you do after you notice someone?

People buy from people they know. (Duh! If you don’t know of someone and what it is that they are selling, how can you buy from them?)

People buy from people they like.  If they don’t like you, why would they buy from you?

People buy from people they trust.  If they think you are not trustworthy, then they will not spend their money with you.

The same thing is true of job search – you are selling your experience, knowledge and energy.  Fortunately, you only have to make one sale.

Being known, liked and trusted is not something you can apply online for.  You have to get out there and meet people face to face, be interested in them, help them out in some way, be likeable and trustworthy.

What are you planning and doing in your job search to be known, liked and trusted?