Resume Guide

Résumé Guide

By Debora Ardis, MLS(AMT)

My, oh my! I cannot express enough how important it is to have a resume composed catering uniquely to each laboratory opportunity you plan to apply. I will share some suggestions about what laboratory professionals should have on their resume to get the attention of potential employers or recruiters to increase the chances of job offers.

It all starts with preparing a core resume; a complete and genuine collection of information that describes, in sections, relevant information about the professional you. Keep it brief. Entry level resumes with more than 1 or 2 pages tend to be overlooked.

The sections are: Contact Information, Objective, Profile, Education, Summary of Laboratory Qualifications, Work Experience, Professional Memberships/Awards, and References.

See John Smith Resume example below.

Create your core resume with an Objective and Profile for a Generalist Medical Laboratory Scientist. This version of your resume can be used for any job application. The Education through References sections will most likely stay the same for any version of your resume, only changing as you advance in your education, career experience, qualifications or added memberships and awards.

The Objective and Profile sections should be reworded to emphasize to recruiters and employers that you have what they need as described on their job opportunity.

Cater your Objective section to reflect the needs described on the job posting. This catering is a fine-tuning of words. Each job description has hints of what the employers truly needs and your resume cannot be “one size fits all.”  If you are serious about a specific job, then it is worth the time and effort to customize your resume to fit it.

The Objective section will give you the chance to hint back at the recruiters and employers of what you are looking for on a job, and perhaps they will be able to offer you what you want.

Whenever the situation presents, you can change or add to the Objective section any specific need that you are interested in.

Do you need hours from 7am-3pm? Are you looking for a position as a generalist? It must be full time? Are you flexible with the distance if compensation is worth your drive? Do you have your heart set to be a microbiologist? Do you need to work weekend hours only so that you will have time to advance your education?

Use this section to let them know. It is very important to be up front about your needs, but be careful in choosing your words.

If you like working blood bank but the position you are applying to is for a generalist, it is okay to mention in the objective section that you are looking for a generalist job with a blood bank opportunity.

It will let them know that you can do what they need but you would also like something else. Don’t be surprised if they offer you a generalist job with the opportunity to be trained in blood bank and future possibility to become a dedicated blood banker.

Pay attention to the job description and to the company you are applying for. A company that makes chemistry reagents will not be able to accommodate your desire to work as blood banker. In this case, just use your generalist resume version.

Generally, an entry level job description for medical laboratory generalist will ask for an AS or BS degree, certification and likely 1 year experience in general lab setting. Techs are expected to work under manager supervision, perform tests, requires independent judgment and critical thinking, maintain acceptable accuracy, quality assurance, proficiency and competency testing, use of clinical/ theoretical knowledge to analyze, investigate, interpret, and report lab data.

What all this means?

Education and certification are a must.

Clinicals usually take about 6 months of full time work in a learning environment inside the laboratory setting and it should count as experience. The fact is that you have experienced months of clinical laboratory workflow by shadowing an experienced professional and therefore you are not clueless of the workflow in a medical lab. This experience should be described in detail under sections Laboratory Qualifications and/or Work Experience.

Under section Profile you should express that you are a 1) team player, 2) capable of working under minimum supervision, and 3) entirely compliant with procedures and regulations.

This Profile section should not be too long, but worded to directly express to the recruiter/employer that you can confidently do what you’ve listed. Use this section to describe any other skills that you have that would be of use in the laboratory/hospital/research/reference lab environment. These skills could include computer programs expertise, language proficiency or LIS (laboratory information system) user experience.

In preparing your Profile section, express these abilities:

     1) Team Player

Think about this scenario: you are working side by side with the same coworkers 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for years and years. People come from all different places, with different backgrounds and different personalities. It is very important for management that you can work in a civil environment with your coworkers. Disagreements will happen. It is how you handle them that will make you a team player or not. Managers want people that work well together; they need employees that can let personal differences pass by while they get the lab work rolling. Keep your pet peeves under control and reach out for management or HR if an interpersonal problem occurs that could compromise patient safety or become harassment.


     2) Works Well Under Minimum Supervision

Not being people-oriented is a common misperception of laboratory professionals. We consult with each other testing-related questions all the time. Friendships develop and socialization happens often in the form of birthday celebrations, events during Lab Week and promotion of fundraisers, for example.

Outside the laboratory, while working, most medical professionals have constant patient interaction and depend on working together with other departments to get their jobs done. While on the bench, laboratory professionals work independently, under minimum supervision.

An example would be when you get an abnormal test result and you have to troubleshoot it by yourself. Investigate, history check the patient, open the procedure book, review your QC validation. You will ask yourself if this is a true abnormal result or is there an instrument problem, traumatic collection, IV contamination, etc. messing up your testing.

Another example, a nurse calls you to add a test to a sample collected 2 hours ago. You should be able to investigate and answer the nurse if this will be possible. Can this test be performed on the previous sample tube? Is the sample too old? Can you locate the sample? Situations like this can occur on an hourly basis depending on how busy the lab is and you are expected to handle these frequent occurrences on your own, with minimum supervision.

Mastering this troubleshooting ability will come with experience. As a new professional, it is expected you will use critical thinking before reaching out. Remember, lives are at stake and you should never take a guess. If you are still not sure after investigation and critical thinking, consult an experienced coworker or your supervisor.

     3) Compliant with Procedures and Regulations

This means just what it says. Make it clear that even though you are a newly graduated Medical Laboratory Scientist, you understand and will always comply with procedures and regulations. You may later see that some professionals make adaptations to standard operation procedures. You do not.

Debora Ardis has worked as full time Medical Technologist since 2006. She has worked as a Clinical Laboratory Generalist for 6 years, Research Specialist for 2, and for the past 3 years she is a dedicated Immunohematologist (blood banker). She has lived in Georgia for the past 15 years, is proudly AMT certified, and a member of AABB and ASCLS.