Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
It’s disappointing to be passed over for a position. It’s even worse to discover that your resume was the problem, especially if the mistakes were avoidable.
Given the knowledge that a single pharmacy position can attract hundreds of applications, you must do everything possible to keep yourself in contention. Candidates should avoid committing the following 7 mistakes on a pharmacy resume:
1. Recycling your resume for multiple positions.
There are no identical pharmacy positions, so there shouldn’t be any identical resumes. Furthermore, if you submit the same resume for different positions, you’ll likely eliminate yourself from consideration.
Hiring managers see enough resumes to be able to quickly identify a generic one. If your resume doesn’t address the specific responsibilities of the job you’re applying for, managers will take note. Rather than drafting a universal resume for multiple jobs, craft one that specifically addresses the job you’re applying for.
As an aside, pay attention to the names you use to save versions of your resume. The name of your document will appear to the hiring managers, so consider using only your name.
2. Failing to demonstrate relevant experience.
The specific responsibilities of each job matter; it’s why hiring managers list them in a job description. They need applicants to possess certain skills in order to be considered. If you aren’t able to document relevant work history, you won’t likely be invited to interview.
Identify the job requirements that you can specifically address, and draft impactful bullets to demonstrate your experience and accomplishments. If you’re finding that you don’t have the necessary skills to qualify for the jobs you’re interested in, volunteer for roles and responsibilities that expand your experience and broaden your skill set. Connect with someone who can help you gain new experiences.
3. Writing an uninspiring professional summary.
Your professional statement should demonstrate to hiring managers what qualities you offer to the employer. If you’re a pharmacist with many years of experience in a single setting, your summary should emphasize a career 'theme.' If you have a variety of experiences in multiple settings, draft a summary statement that weaves together your work history.
Instead of telling the powers-that-be what you’re excited about or what you plan to accomplish, tell them who you are and how you can help the company.
4. Overlooking action verbs.
Action verbs clearly illustrate your past experience. If you use passive words in your bullets, your hiring managers will have a difficult time envisioning you filling a role.
Action verbs, on the other hand, create a visual opportunity. If you “assembled,” “overhauled,” or “revised,” that’s easier to envision than “being responsible” for something. Action verbs also make your resume easy to skim, which is important in a crowded field of applicants.
5. Emphasizing duties instead of accomplishments.
Employers value your experience, but they value your achievements even more. If your position required you to “update pharmacy department files,” tell the hiring manager that you “reorganized 10 years worth of files to improve accessibility for users.”
Make sure you write your resume using past tense and don’t refer to yourself directly. Readers understand that the resume is about you.
6. Including an unprofessional email address.
Your email address should be some variation on your name, and nothing more. If your email address is something amateurish like “crazycatlady,” it should not be included on your resume.
Create a new email account using your name. Also, if your email account uses a signature block that could exclude some readers, like something political or religious, remove it. Avoid being dismissed simply because your email account doesn’t reflect well upon you. Eliminate the possibility.
7. Including typos and grammatical errors.
CareerBuilder reported in 2013 that 58% of employers said resume errors and typos often eliminated candidates from job consideration. Employers assume that sloppy documents suggest a sloppy work ethic.
It is worth noting that because the mistakes often include misused words like lose/loose, your/you’re, their/they’re, spellcheck may not catch them. Instead, enlist the help of a mentor or colleague to review your resume.
Another suggestion is to read your resume backward, which forces the brain to process the words rather than “correcting” the mistakes automatically.
Give yourself a fighting chance.
Once you’re aware of them, these mistakes are easily avoidable. By addressing the common resume mistakes, you will differentiate yourself from the competition, and improve the odds that you will land an interview.
You will allow the hiring managers to focus on who you are instead of proofreading your resume. More importantly, you will increase the likelihood that they will get to know you personally in a face-to-face interview.Competition in the pharmacy industry is fierce, but it is not insurmountable. Give yourself every opportunity to get noticed for the right reasons.