No matter your experience, the right resume format is essential.

Gemma is a rockstar working toward making this world a better place. Climate change, wildlife trafficking, human rights — you name it and she's been tackling it, and now she's on the hunt for her next gig … but the clock is ticking. At the time Gemma won our resume makeover contest, she was a part of a prestigious fellowship, but with only a few more months to go, she was eager to get a new job lined up. Gemma worked with TopReume senior resume writer Traci K. to ensure that she was positioned to land a job ASAP and continue fighting for social good.

The resume black hole

Gemma has a wealth of experience — the kind of experience that gets noticed. Why then wasn't she getting noticed? She was using LinkedIn to look for positions, leveraging her network, and applying online, yet she was mostly encountering the dreaded resume black hole. Despite her efforts, it was as if her resume kept getting lost, never to be seen — or responded to — again.

If you've ever applied for jobs online, you're most likely familiar, and it's a haunting, frustrating place.

At the end of the day, her resume was incorrectly formatted, and that's why she was getting ignored. This one piece of the job-search puzzle can make all the difference, and that's what Gemma was hoping for help with through working with TopResume.

CV versus resume

TopResume senior resume writer Traci noted that Gemma's original resume was not actually a resume, but rather a CV (curriculum vitae). Though CVs and resumes serve the same purpose as job-application materials, they differ in the breadth of information provided. TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine anecdotallydescribes CVsas “a condensed book that details your achievements, work history, skills, awards, education, etc., whereas a resume is the CliffsNotes version of the same book — it gives a similar timeline, but only covers the highlights.”

Since Gemma is targeting science communication positions rather than research or bench science, a two-page resume was the way to go. Traci kept all but one of the positions Gemma included in her original resume to manage the length and trim it down from four pages to two. The goal was to show a consistent work history with no major gaps.

Gemma's initial resume featured her education front and center. Since Gemma received her doctorate back in 2015, Traci thought it was more effective to start with her current work experience and move the education section to the end. While Traci also debated on including dates for her education, she decided to keep them to help fill in the gaps in her work history. 

Unstuck and ready to move forward

We spoke to Gemma to hear more about her experience working with a TopResume pro. 

"I was really impressed with how efficient and easy the process was, and how receptive my writer was to my questions. It was a really good experience and in a stressful time period, so helpful to have a second set of eyes.

"In starting my job search, I was really stuck trying to figure out how to frame what I've accomplished instead of what I've done and learned. Having an outsider perspective helped a lot. The field I'm in is unique and not a lot of people have heard of it or are familiar with it. I was surprised to see how accurately what I provided was represented in my resume." 

With an updated, optimized resume in hand, Gemma felt confident moving forward knowing that her new resume would be able to beat the electronic filtering systems.  

"I also didn't know what employers were looking for in a resume. I knew there were algorithms, but TopResume really knows how they work and what they pick up on. My original doc was not getting picked up in the right way."

Ultimately, Gemma's new resume had her excited and planning for years of career development to come!

"My new resume format is great and I love that I can easily adapt it as I gain more experience and develop more accomplishments. It's really easy to update and very user-friendly."

Sending lots of luck your way, Gemma! We're excited to see you change the world.

If you want a professional resume makeover like Gemma, learn more about working with an expert resume writer.

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