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Employers Say Resumes Still Matter

Kate Traynor

Pharmacy director William A. Gouveia, M.S., FASHP, offers students straightforward advice about preparing a resume: "You need to give it time and attention."

Gouveia, at the New England Medical Center in Boston, mentions misspellings—including those he sees in his name as well as the hospital’s name—as evidence of unprofessional resume-writing. "I continue to find resumes that are not as well done as they might be," he says.

Since Gouveia reviews all of the resumes that pharmacists send to his department, it is important to make a good impression with him.

Darlene M. Mednick, M.B.A., vice president of pharmacy relations for Merck-Medco Managed Care, L.L.C., echoes Gouveia’s sentiments about resumes. "If you haven’t even proofread it, why am I reading it?" she asks.

What does Mednick like to see from job applicants? "A very polished, well-thought-out cover letter and a well-done resume or CV [curriculum vitae]," she says.

Gouveia likes job seekers to tailor the content of the resume to the position sought. For example, new graduates seeking a specialized clinical position should emphasize relevant clinical rotations completed during pharmacy school.

Along with the resumes, says Gouveia, "I like having cover letters that…try to personalize the relationship between the candidate and this organization."

Gouveia notes that addressing a resume to "Director of Pharmacy, New England Medical Center," instead of to him by name, shows that the job seeker has not bothered to research the hospital.

"It’s not hard to find out who I am," he says.

Mednick says she receives about 300 resumes each month and hired more than 700 pharmacists last year. Many of these job applicants communicate by e-mail, which is fine with Mednick. But some of the messages she receives from job seekers are mysterious.

"I’ll get an e-mail that I can’t really make sense out of—and sometimes the resume is attached, sometimes it’s not. There’s no cover letter," says Mednick. "I have no idea what this person is applying for."

Mednick advises job seekers who communicate with her electronically to obtain an e-mail address that looks professional. E-mail identities that are "cutesy" or have sexual overtones are inappropriate, she says.

A well-written resume tells Mednick that an applicant can communicate clearly, a skill that is increasingly important in pharmacy practice. Pharmacists, says Mednick, are becoming direct therapy managers who must communicate effectively with patients and other health care professionals.

If Gouveia does not receive a suitable resume in response to an advertised opening at his hospital, he leaves the position vacant. "We’d much rather keep things open than find people who are not quite as qualified as they might be," he says.

Gouveia reminds job seekers that, although pharmacy positions are plentiful right now, not all jobs are equally rewarding. "It’s still very difficult to find a position that meets all of your professional and personal needs," he says.