The chemist’s guide to writing an optimized chemist resume

Chemists play a vital role in our society, doing everything from developing makeup formulas to working with extremely hazardous biochemicals. No matter what area of chemistry you work in, your resume needs to reflect your expertise and capabilities as a chemist. 

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about writing a resume as a chemist. Keep reading to learn about:

  • When to use a standard resume vs. a CV as a chemist
  • How to write an effective resume summary as a chemist
  • Choosing the best chemist skills for your resume
  • Optimizing your work experience descriptions as a chemist
  • Properly listing your educational background as a chemist

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1. When to use a standard resume vs. a CV as a chemist

When you work in a scientific field, such as chemistry, choosing the proper resume format can be tricky.

Openings in science and academia generally require applicants to use a Curriculum Vitae – or CV – format. This is a long-form, multi-page resume that covers the entirety of a professional’s career in great detail. Along with the standard education, work experience, and skills sections, a CV will also include sections such as publications, awards, research, and more.

However, for entry-level positions as a chemist, you may not be required to use such a format as you will not yet have the work history to fill out such a document.

In this case, you will opt for the standard reverse-chronological format, or the alternative functional format. Reverse-chronological resumes focus mainly on work experience, while functional resumes focus on education, skills, and unpaid experience. Choosing between the two comes down to your experience level.

The key to deciding which format to use often lies in the job posting itself. If an employer expects to see a CV, this will typically be noted in the job posting description. Additionally, if the job is in an academic or research-intensive field, these types of positions often require CVs. Otherwise, a standard resume format should do the trick.

Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.

2. How to write an effective resume summary as a chemist

Your resume summary is a brief statement at the beginning of your resume that helps introduce you and your talents to an employer.

In this summary, you should include your most important professional information – such as major accomplishments, key responsibilities held in previous positions, or awards recognizing your expertise and work ethic.

To help illustrate how to write a strong resume summary, check out this weak example followed by a correction and explanation.

Incorrect chesmist professional summary example

Chemist with around 5 years of experience working in research laboratories. Skills include synthetic compounds and chemical analysis. Specialized in applying chemistry for environmental preservation purposes.

Why is this Incorrect?

When writing a resume summary, the key is to be as specific as possible. This applicant fails to offer context around the examples of experience they provide, making this summary far less engaging than it has the potential to be.

Corrected chemist professional summary example

Detail-Oriented Research Chemist with 5+ years of experience working as an environmental chemist. Highly skilled in handling synthetic compounds during the testing and design process, as well as performing thorough chemical analyses. Specialized in Green Chemistry, helping previous employer to develop a sustainable cleaning solution that increased cost efficiency by 15%.

Why is this Correct?

In this corrected example, the applicant provides much more contextual and detailed information regarding their experience and accomplishments. They put more emphasis on their specialization, highlighting their passion to employers.

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3. What are the best chemist skills for your resume

In any scientific field – but especially chemistry where you are working with potentially dangerous chemicals – it is important to have an array of both technical and interpersonal skills to show on your resume.

Technical skills refer to your learned abilities gained through training and educations, while interpersonal skills can be both learned and inherent and deal with how you communicate with other people.

Below, we have provided 10 examples of each of these types of skills that look great on a chemist’s resume:

The most effective technical skills to put on your resume

  • Preparing compounds and reagents
  • Knowledge of laboratory procedures
  • Substance and chemical analysis
  • Chemical testing
  • Writing technical reports
  • Refining substances
  • Developing and improving products
  • Developing new formulations
  • Quality control testing
  • Chemical identification

The best chemist interpersonal skills to put on your resume

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Verbal communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration
  • Patience
  • Leadership
  • Organization skills
  • Planning
  • Delegation

4. How to optimize your work experience descriptions as a chemist

When describing your work experience on a chemist’s resume, it is important to use your descriptions to showcase your best abilities and skills.

You want to show potential employers that you go above and beyond your basic responsibilities, and that you are driven and dedicated to your career as a chemist. It should be a priority to try and include as many specific accomplishments or quantifiable details in your work experience section as possible.

Here is an example of a work experience entry from a chemist resume

Hydro Chemical Solutions, Inc., Birmingham, AL
Chemist
April 2017 to May 2021

  • Researched and developed a new water-based cleaning solution that offers a higher-strength cleaning formula for 25% lower production costs.
  • Performed quality control testing for 60+ products.
  • Managed an inventory of 150+ chemical compounds, assisting in ordering procedures and safe-storage protocols.

5. How to properly list your educational background as a chemist

The educational credentials needed to work a job in chemistry highly depend on the position you are applying for. Chemistry has a wide range of jobs, from entry-level positions that require a bachelor’s degree to formal research positions that require a Ph.D. and various accolades to earn.

When listing your education on your resume or CV as a chemist, make sure to always include the following details:

  • The name of your degree
  • The name of your school or university
  • Your year of graduation
  • Notable academic accomplishments

Additionally, you should always list your highest degree first, followed by your lower degrees.

Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a chemist resume

Education

Stanford University, Stanford, CA
M.S. in Chemistry
2015 to 2018

  • Graduated: 2018, Summa Cum Laude
  • Concentration: Pharmaceutical Chemistry

University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
B.S. in Chemistry
2010 to 2014

  • Graduated: 2014, Summa Cum Laude
  • Double Major: Chemical Physics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Holsworth, Ph.D. in Chemistry

 

Martin is a resume expert and career advice writer at Kickresume. In his five years at Kickresume, he has written nearly 100 in-depth, painstakingly researched resume advice articles and, as chief editor, he has also edited and revised every single article on this website. Tens of thousands of job seekers read Martin’s resume advice every month. He holds a degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam.

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