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What are some ways to format a resume to avoid bias?


Natalie LaFranzo, Vice President, Market Development, Cofactor Genomics
Natalie LaFranzo, Vice President, Market Development, Cofactor Genomics

Employers should be working hard to remove bias in hiring practices; the onus should not land on the candidate to avoid bias. This first step is for employers to accept that everyone has bias. The most common of these is affinity bias, or being drawn to people that look, think, and act like you. To overcome affinity bias in hiring you need to focus on what skills, talents, and traits the best person for the role will have to accomplish the task(s) you are hiring them to do. Employers should craft inclusive best practices for reviewing language in job descriptions, identifying new recruiting channels, standardizing interviews, and holding regular trainings. For candidates, your focus should be on matching your skills with the needs of the company based on the job description posted. This often comes with a recommendation to use strong, action-oriented words in your resume. However, “feminine” leadership competencies are cited as highly desirable, so my advice is to review the traits you highlight to ensure you’re presenting a mix of both strong, decisive traits and an empathetic, collaborative nature. Highlighting your strengths as the ideal candidate is your job; eliminating bias in hiring is on the employer. 


Joe Martino, ACS Career Consultant
Joe Martino, ACS Career Consultant

Laser-focus your resume toward the job for which you’re applying. Make sure it specifically addresses the job qualifications and requirements with concise, accomplishment-driven bullet points. Also, make sure that you list your experience in reverse-chronological order to ensure that your most relevant work is read by the hiring manager first. Leave off of your resume anything personal or not relevant to the role. By steering the focus to your accomplishments and a specific role, you’ll inherently keep any bias that could be construed from your resume to a minimum or eliminate it entirely.


Norton Peet, ACS Career Consultant
Norton Peet, ACS Career Consultant

My advice would be to avoid any mention of age, race, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status when constructing a resume. Attempts to curry favor with such biases can backfire, and they are really not relevant. Instead, use your resume to bias the reader toward your scientific training, expertise, skillsets, preparedness and motivation to perform in a workplace.


This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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