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Are You "All Polish and No Substance?"

I was asked by a student once how she could make her resume more competitive for a residency.

Notice the subtle, yet instructive phrasing.

“How can I make my resume more competitive” vs. “How can I make myself more competitive.”

This minor difference in emphasis amplifies over the course of 4 years of pharmacy school. It will often lead to a future pharmacist that is all polish, no substance. A show horse, not a work horse. You get the idea.

Look, at tl;dr pharmacy, we believe in getting the most bang for your buck. We've built our entire website on it. We believe in focusing on the "big wins." We're believers in the Pareto Principle.

We know that it's a competitive market out there and there is a culture of oneupsmanship and "keeping up with The Joneses" when it comes to loading your CV with experiences. But those experiences are worthless if you can't actually apply them during your professional career. The big wins will only get you so far if you don't know any of the details. We built tl;dr pharmacy to give you a 10,000 ft view of clinical topics and the pharmacy profession, but there are a lot of details that you are still ultimately responsible for knowing.

You cannot tl;dr your way through pharmacy school. 

tl;dr pharmacy is like a supplement or a performance enhancing drug for your pharmacy education. We are not the foundation of it. We help you see the forest for the trees.

If you want to make yourself a competitive candidate for residencies, fellowships, and jobs, then there is a simple prescription for success. Don’t be an empty shell of a pharmacist. Instead of trying to artificially level up your resume, go out and DO some grinding to earn some XP.

Volunteer, get a part-time job in a hospital or community pharmacy, tutor, take a leadership position in a professional organization, assist a faculty member in research.

You have plenty of options. But here’s the catch--whatever path you choose, commit and do it well. Trust me when I say that interviewers can see right through your facade of a resume.  

In fact, I’d even argue that you have to limit the number of things you do. If you sign yourself up for too much, you won’t have time to do any of it. You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.

In the end, what do you think is more impressive to an interviewer; someone who can actually hold a conversation and talk intelligently about the experiences they’ve had during their professional years or someone who has a paragraph of alphabet soup on their email signature or their Student Pharmacist business card? 

Nothing says “all polish, no substance” quite like this:

Bill William Billson, BS., PharmD Candidate
Student Pharmacist, Jimmy-John Jameson School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016
Kipper Ply Pharmaceutical Frat Bros, Inc.
The Silver Lock, National Leadership Society
2007 Soap Box Derby Tri-County Area Championship Finalist
ALL | DeM | Pharm | Groupz


PS: Are you interested in residency? Check out our new guide, Mastering the Match: How to Secure a Pharmacy Residency!

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