When you imagine applying for a new medical writing job, how do you feel? Does your heart race with excitement? Do you feel a flicker of fear? Pivoting into a new position, company, or niche can be both exhilarating and challenging. It’s important to do everything you can to set yourself up for success.
Sprucing up your resume is one way to prepare yourself mentally for a new job hunt. You’ll need to be clear about your qualifications as a medical writer and include any information that sets you apart from the crowd of applicants.
Below, we outline what qualifications employers look for on prospective medical writer resumes, and we offer tips for creating an impressive medical communication CV.
Required Medical Writer Qualifications
There are certain non-negotiables for getting a job as a medical writer. Whether these qualifications are apparent in your education or past experiences, employers will be looking for evidence that you possess them:
- A bachelor’s degree. If you have a scientific background, your degree may be in one of the life sciences, such as biology, microbiology, nutrition, genetics, biochemistry, health sciences, or biotechnology. If your background is in communications, your degree may be in English, journalism, communications, or a related discipline. While not required, an advanced degree can be helpful; according to the AMWA 2019 Medical Communication Compensation Report, nearly 80% of medical writers had an advanced degree.
- Interest in medical topics. Anyone who pursues a career as a medical writer must have a firm grasp of medical and scientific concepts and the ability to write clearly about them for the chosen audience.
- Writing proficiency. You must be able to write clearly about complex topics for the intended audience, in concise terms with correct grammar and usage. You must be familiar with medical terminology and able to quickly find reliable information about selected topics.
- Knowledge about research techniques. Can you accurately present findings and data for the layperson, and can you understand the limitations of experiments? Are you comfortable interpreting and explaining statistical data?
6 Tips to Strengthen Your Medical Writer Resume
If you meet the requirements to be a medical writer, it’s time to highlight your skills and experience for hiring managers.
Create multiple resumes
You should write a resume for each target audience or job type. For instance, a medical education resume might emphasize your writing skills with diverse media. That includes manuscripts, slides, and the Web. On the other hand, a regulatory writing resume must emphasize your scientific skills, such as data analysis and interpretation.
Make your resume easy to read
Hiring managers often skim dozens of resumes before choosing candidates to interview. Make their jobs easier by leading with your credentials (degree letters after your name) and organizing the resume under headers such as Skills Summary, Professional Experience, Education, and Professional Activities.
Emphasize your best assets
Immediately after your name, put your “best asset.” If you are a new medical writer, this might be your skills summary. If you're an experienced medical writer, your best asset might be your last or most impressive job title.
Focus on relevant experience
Think about what will pique hiring managers’ interests. After each job title, list the skill most relevant to the prospective employer. Maybe you know FDA guidelines. Perhaps you've successfully edited 25 manuscripts in 12 months.
Place the education section last
Put yourself in a potential employer’s shoes. What do you want to know about someone before hiring them? You are probably more interested in the applicant’s skill—what they can use to play a role at your company—than where they went to school. In general, it’s best to put the Skill and Relevant Experience sections before the Education section.
Placing the Education section last is also helpful for recent graduates. This setup does not immediately advertise that you’re fresh out of school. It allows your qualifications and skills to speak for you.
Get inspiration from other resumes
There is no shortage of resume templates on the Web. Don’t copy them directly, but do use them for inspiration. Some new medical writers also study the AMWA Freelance Directory for ideas on how to describe their experiences and skills.
Once you’ve crafted your resume, consider asking a mentor or fellow medical writer to look it over for you. Every medical writer’s skills and experience are different, but the features of a strong resume are the same. Make your resume relevant for the industry and job you want, then emphasize your strongest skills and professional experiences.