Your Resume Portfolio

A résumé is never sent alone. It is always accompanied by at least a cover letter, and often a publication list, research summary, list of references, and other documents. These additional documents are each covered separately.

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The Cover Letter

The cover letter is the first thing that the person screening applicants sees (when the screening is done by a person rather than by a computer), and the letter draws explicit connections between the resume and the requirements of the position.

Publications and Presentations

List your publications using the accepted citation protocol as outlined in the ACS Style Guide (3rd edition). If you have numerous publications, presentations and patents, they may not fit on the résumé itself. Instead, include a line such as “24 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 4 patents and 8 invited presentations.”  Then prepare an appendix to your résumé that can be sent as a supplement or provided upon request. If you have a journal article that has been submitted, include it with the citation “submitted to J. Chem. Phys.”. If the article has been written but not yet submitted, do not include it.

Oral presentations usually duplicate published material, so list only invited or keynote presentations on your résumé. Oral presentations to your own department should never be listed. However, because presentations also reflect public speaking skills, recent graduates can include them, if space allows.

Professional Awards and Honors

List academic and professional awards from national, regional, and local organizations, including membership in honorary societies. For awards, include the name of the award, the date, the granting organization, and describe the accomplishment behind the honor (teaching, research, service, grades, etc.).

For recent graduates, include competitive scholarships and fellowships as well as academic honors such as dean's list and graduation with distinction.

If the award is particularly notable, consider also adding it as a bullet in your highlights or summary at the beginning.

Professional Affiliations

Positions in professional organizations such as ACS, and non-scientific activities showing leadership as relevant to your job search, should be listed on your resume. Include job-related memberships in national, regional, and local professional organizations as well as any offices held. Avoid listing political or religious activities unless they demonstrate leadership ability or business accumen. In this case, write in general terms to camouflage the exact identity of the political or religious organization. If you're applying for a job that has certain memberships, certifications, or licenses as prerequisites, be sure to include them.


International chemists, or chemists with overseas education, may be asked about their visa status during the hiring process. If you were born outside the U.S. but are now a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, include your status on the résumé, in the heading section. If you have a temporary visa, however, do not state this information. If there are no suitable American candidates for the position, the employer may be willing to sponsor a candidate for permanent resident status. This can be discussed during your interview.

Research Summary

Many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies now expect a one to two page research summary - a separate document sent with the résumé. This document can include structures, reactions and mechanisms, if appropriate. Do not violate any confidentiality agreements or share proprietary information.

The summary should be detailed, but not too technical-leave the technical details for your seminar in the interview. It should cover briefly what problem your research was intending to solve, what tools and techniques were used and why, the results of the research, and possible future directions for this work. It should clearly indicate which parts were your contribution, and what was done by others.  It should be written in complete sentences, as opposed to the sentence fragments of the résumé.


Pull together names and addresses of three or four individuals who have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you. Some companies ask for the letters as part of the application. Others will ask for letters after you've been placed on the short list. In some cases, the company may contact your references directly. Find out what each company's procedures require.