Job Search Resume

Does Your Medical Sales Resume Pass the 6-Second Test?

How to write your medical sales resume like a newspaper article and pass the 6-second scan test.

Resume Tips: Think like a journalist

The term “resume reading” should be obsolete in today’s job market. Given that the average reader spends between 6 and 20 seconds on the first pass, we should really refer to it as “resume scanning.”

The idea of a medical or pharmaceutical sales recruiter scanning versus reading your resume may be irritating – after all, you’ve spent hours, days, or maybe even weeks working on it! Skim readers are a reality though, so it’s essential that you understand the paths our eyes take and make sure these areas include powerful verbiage.

Interestingly, the way most of us skim-read the news is almost identical to the way medical sales resumes get read, which is why incorporating the concepts from newspaper writing will help your resume pass the scan test.

Career Title or Headline

In a newspaper, a headline tells us what the story is about. A Career Title placed at the top of the resume does the same thing.

Are you a Pharma Territory Manager or a Medical Device Sales Leader? Whatever you are—make sure your headline shouts it in larger font than the rest.

Career Titles are ideal for customization. By adding a word or two you can rapidly change your story from industry-neutral to industry specific.

EXAMPLE: “Cardiology Device Sales Manager” or “Sales Manager.”

Branding Paragraph or Lead Paragraph

Just as the lead paragraph in a news article gives the reader some insight into the story’s details, a branding paragraph placed directly below the career title gives the reader preliminary details to ensure you are ideally suited for a specific role.

Areas of Expertise or Call Out Boxes

The Areas of Expertise section in many ways serves the same purpose as call out boxes in newspapers – in that it allows a specific portion of text to stand out from the rest.

This highly scannable section should include a list of call points, disease states or role-specific skills. Not sure what to include? Look to the job posting for clues. See what skills and experience are listed as required in the job posting, and clearly list your relevant skills here.

Job Experience Section or Sub-Headlines

The job experience section serves the same purpose as sub-headlines in newspapers in that they break the story down into digestible sections to read.  When it comes to scanning your work history, readers tend to look at where and when you worked and in what role.

Achievement Bullets or Body of the Story

The next step in resume scanning is to quickly peruse the first bullet below each job title. If time allows, the last bullet may get read. Bullets in the middle tend to get skipped until that deeper, second read –  providing your document has made a good first impression during the first go-round.

Given that the first and last bullets are often the only parts read during the first pass, it is critical that they contain details that relate powerful, and preferably quantifiable, achievements.

Awards or Footnotes

Awards are often included in resumes and serve in much the same way as footnotes to a newspaper—they provide detail that further supports the story.

Because Awards speak volumes in the world of healthcare pharma and medical sales – they must be given a position of prominence with their own section.


Think like a newspaper journalist as you edit your resume, and yours is sure to pass the test.


– By Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW


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