Skills that Pay the Bills: Resume Writing and Interview Skills

Skills that Pay the Bills: Resume Writing and Interview Skills

It’s often said that your resume gets you in the door, while a successful interview is what gets you the job. Both are essential in the pursuit of a great career. By following a few guidelines from Mansi Raythatha, Product Manager for Keytruda at Merck, who has reviewed applications and interviewed hundreds of applicants in her former role managing the highly competitive Merck’s Leadership Development Program,* you will greatly improve your chances of securing that job or internship you’ve had your eye on since last summer.

Three Main Areas for Resume Improvement                                                                                    

  1. Nailing the basics
    By cutting your resume down to just one concise page, you ensure that your resume looks organized and polished. In addition, it’s important to make sure that the content on your resume is crisp and focused without typos or formatting errors.
  2. Emphasizing the “so what?” of your experience
    In the body of your resume, make sure that you demonstrate impact and initiative in descriptions of your previous work experience –  speak mainly to what you achieved through jobs and activities, instead of just stating what you learned.
  3. Aligning with the job’s requirements
    Use direct language from the job description to link your skills to the specific role you’re applying to. With this in mind, you should have a different resume for each position that’s tailored to the requirements of each role. This allows employers to see exactly what qualifies you for their position.
Pro Tips:
  • Upload resumes and documents as PDFs instead of in a Word document which can show ‘track changes’ or edits and appear unprofessional.
  • Cover letters can bridge the gap when your experience is not an immediately obvious fit for the job by describing relevant skills you have that fit with the job description.
  • Upload cover letters as a separate document if possible; combine into one PDF with your resume if not.

P-R-E-P for the Interview

 How you prepare for an interview will directly tell your employer how you will perform on the job. Research the company and the people within it using an updated LinkedIn profile, the company’s website, press releases, social media and personal connections. Bring interesting and pertinent information to the interview that shows that you have done your research and take a real interest in the company.
 Practice doing interviews virtually – use the Career Center, family or friends to give feedback on your appearance, tone, delivery, energy and enthusiasm.  It’s challenging to make a personal connection virtually, but it’s important to get down before your virtual interview!
 Arrive on time and convey positive energy, confidence, and kindness with your expression, gestures, voice and posture during the interview. Be yourself, but if you are more reserved in nature, you may need to get a little out of your comfort zone. View it as a welcome and beneficial challenge.
 Remember details from your interview and connect personally with everyone you meet in a professional setting. Whether connecting on LinkedIn or in person, network by using specifics of your conversation to connect the dots between your interests and theirs.

During the Interview

Be prepared for standard questions
 Common interview questions include:
  • “Tell me about yourself”: This is a chance to show who you are and how your personality, skills, and experience connect with the opportunity at hand.
  • “Walk me through your resume”: This allows you to describe a highlight of each experience and tie them together into a story of your path as a practiced professional.
Use the STAR+ Method to Describe Experiences
  • Situation (Detail the situation you were in)
  • Task (Describe what needed to be done)
  • Action (Explain how it was accomplished)
  • Result (What were the outcomes? What did you learn?)
  • +: The ‘+’ signifies what you learned and how you have applied these learnings to your current activities. Use examples to demonstrate the following skills: adaptability and resilience, analytics, problem solving, digital acumen, collaboration and management of ambiguity.
Prepare Your Questions and a Closing Statement
 Ask questions that show you have done your research and are trying to determine if the job is a good fit for you, and prepare a closing statement for the end of the interview.  For example, start with “Thank you for your time,” followed by something you enjoyed learning about during the interview, and ending with something you’re excited about and looking forward to.
Follow Up
 Send a thank you note within 12 hours. Personalize and call out specifics of the interview to emphasize your strengths and/or fill in a gap that you feel was present.
Pro Tips:
  • For a virtual interview it’s acceptable to bring a slide or two with a work example to share (if the opportunity arises).
  • Don’t bring up salary during the interview; if they ask what you are expecting, you can deflect (“I’d like to understand more about the job and my fit before discussing salary”) or state a range based on your research.
By following these tips from a professional with many years in the field, you’ll be well on your way to getting hired for the career you’re aiming for with a well-crafted resume that aligns perfectly with the position you want and professional interview skills that tell employers that you’re just who they’re looking for.
*Merck’s Leadership Development Program has an extremely competitive application process with successful applicants entering a three-year rotational work experience. Earlier this month, Mansi Raythatha shared tips at a meeting of the TAMU International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering.

Find more resources on resumes here and get your resume reviewed instantly with VMock. For interviews, prepare with resources and help from the Career Center.

Written by Patti Edgar, Associate Director, Geosciences Career Services

Posted by Abdul Kader, Abdullah on 4/21/2021 11:48:05 AM


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