With US doctors writing about 4 billion prescriptions yearly, according to IMS Health, pharmacy personnel, including pharmacy technicians, are in great demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts pharmacy technician job growth of 25 percent between 2008 and 2018.
But don't assume that just because jobs are plentiful, you'll be able to land a pharm tech position effortlessly. To help you get your job of choice, be sure to submit a compelling resume.
"Many people understand the basic components of a resume," says Mike Johnston, CPhT, founder and chairman of the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) and author of Rx for Success: A Career Enhancement Guide for Pharmacy Technicians. "But items that are specific to pharmacy technicians should also be included."
Here are some tips on writing the perfect pharmacy technician resume:
Tailor Your Objective
Susan Jeffery, CPhT, a past president of the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPT), says your resume objective should demonstrate your willingness to learn.
"Pharmacy technicians should add a sentence to their professional objectives that lets the hiring manager know they are interested in opportunities for further specialization or professional growth," she says. For example:
Career Objective: To obtain a pharmacy technician position with an expanding company. Strong interest in pursuing professional development opportunities, including specialized training and licensure in the organization's growth areas.
Expand on Your Education and Skills
List education, training, licensure and academic honors to help you stand out. In addition, include special skills, such as fluency in another language, dispensing or dealing with billing and reimbursement for insurance, workers' compensation or Medicaid. These terms will catch employers' attention when they search the Monster resume database.
"Listing specialty certifications, like intravenous drugs, compounding or diabetes home management, can help you get noticed and get higher salaries," Johnston says. However, he suggests listing continuing-education (CE) credits only if the courses you took were on special, advanced topics, such as quality control or preparing radioactive elements. CE in and of itself "isn't a differentiator," he says. "It's expected."
Elaborate on Your Work History
When it comes to the chronologically ordered employment history, hiring managers prefer a rich description of what you do day-to-day rather than a generic list of your duties.
For example, instead of saying:
Responsibilities included assisting the pharmacist, prescription intake and insurance billing.
Responsibilities included counting the prescribed number of tablets, entering prescription information into the computer to produce labels and overseeing workers' compensation reimbursements.
If you're a recent graduate, include internships, externships, clinical rotations and preceptorships. List nonpharmacy work experience to demonstrate job stability. Unless you worked at a national chain or well-known hospital, describe your past employers to give the hiring manager some context of your previous work environment. For example:
Gained in-depth knowledge of geriatric drugs from daily interaction with elderly patients and drug dispensing at 100-bed nursing home.
"Be honest," Jeffery says. "Never lie about your knowledge or experience. Everything you do impacts someone's life. Always include all workplaces and all schooling and classes."
Flaunt Your Associations
Belonging to a professional organization, such as the NPTA or the AAPT, and attending seminars and conventions telegraphs your dedication to the field. On your Monster resume, call out your memberships in the Affiliations section.
Resume Dos and Don'ts
Finally, heed some standard resume advice:
- Make Sure Your Resume Is Free of Spelling Errors: In pharmacy practice, a misspelled word could lead to a fatal error. Proof, review and proof again. Then have someone else do the same thing.
- Keep Your Resume to One Page: A two-page resume is acceptable if you've earned specialized CE credits or have some other form of specialized training, such as compounding, that's relevant to the employer's needs, Johnston says.
- Don't Include Hobbies and Personal Interests: Hiring managers can ask about these during the interview if they want to know.
"These are the little things that people don't think about, but they can make a big impact on a hiring manager," Johnston says.