DR J. #4 - From qualifications to competencies: how i finally achieved a good business CV

It appears the more I write the more ideas I get for postings… For example, I made it to Round Two via a second recruiter interview (not the same recruiter as the first time, I likely burned that bridge, I think) and that development could be worth a post in itself. Also, there is the personal transformation that was 2016. Still, I’ll write about those subjects in other posts. Because my entry into Round Two would not have existed had I not transformed my dry science-style CV, listing mostly qualifications and locations, into a more inclusive account of my competences and personal achievements, which now forms my new CV.

Maybe some of you have read my previous posts and know about my prior experiences on the (unpaved) road leading from science into pharma. This particular one started off by FSTP mentioning they heard of a truly great MSL opportunity in my TA and area of the globe, and him mentioning nicely - but thoroughly - that my CV, in any case, would need “some adjustment” before applying. A somewhat “different scope” on things, so to say. I truly wanted to have a chance there, and as a fresh ‘graduate’ from the FSTP MSL course, I had indeed learned that my rather arid summary of labs, professors, diploma’s, some papers and a thesis was not going to cut it with a corporate recruiter sifting through 100+ CV’s a day. Let alone a hiring manager. So, when Martijn put this to my attention, I thought: “OK he is surely right. I got a feeling of what is needed, shouldn’t be too hard.” Right?

Wrong. Most definitely. Actually, my CV wasn’t bad in the sense that I lacked experience or expertise, it was just written down so dryly that you’d have to concentrate rather hard to distill from it any competences there might exist.

It didn’t even include a proper executive summary. So for the first revision, Martijn told me that I needed to “spell out” my experiences upfront, what did I do to achieve XYZ, what competencies that are important for an MSL job had I acquired and put it on my résumé? Why should the recruiter put my CV on the “interesting” pile, instead of straight into the bin..?

Well, I think I overdid the “spelling out” a little for the first revision. Because I started by describing meticulously what I did on each past project. I nearly turned my CV into a story instead of a summary, trying to maximize the included experiences. I thought I delivered an honest step forward but got a chopped-up version back beyond recognition. Interestingly, I at first couldn’t get my head around it. Since in academia I’ve always been told that you should just briefly describe where you were, at which lab for how long, maybe even decorate a project with a title and that’s it. Plus the publications, certificates and awards of course. So I set to work on revision 2. In a sense, it was the same as revision 1, with half the adverbs and adjectives, and an executive summary that filled nearly a page. Safe to say, this wasn’t moving forward extremely rapidly. In the meantime, I had already passed the deadline for the application and was starting to feel somewhat boggled as to adjusting my actual mindset into the ‘MSL’ mindset.

Since, that is what the problem was: for me to write a good Pharma CV, demanding the attention of a recruiter, I would need to start thinking as an MSL and what competencies an MSL would have to get noticed by the recruiter.

When it finally worked out after most welcome guidance, I had arrived at a clean crisp new CV that did not focus on publications and labs, but rather on how I worked and organized, on how I applied knowledge and expertise and talked about result-orientated outcomes. It now indicated what would be useful for Pharma and a role as MSL specifically. I am very grateful for the great help I received, as it was quite a mindbender to re-align my thoughts and in a way re-appreciate the value of my past- and current work that would help me get my next job – Medical Science Liaison.

Are you ready to jump ship?

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