Season 2, Episode 4

Creating a Rockstar CV with Academy and Apothecary’s Dr. Ashley Gulyas

For pharmacists who are getting ready for interviews, this episode is for you! You’ll hear some tips and tricks for successful CVs and cover letters. Also – I am hosting a second webinar on January 15 at 6pm CT to prep you for interview tips and get you ready to ace your residency interviews. Sign up on the website

In this episode, you’ll hear from Dr. Ashley Gulyas, is the co-founder of Academy & Apothecary. She has been reviewing, creating, and formatting resumes for over fifteen years. She specializes in assisting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to emphasize their skills and work experience to obtain the fulfilling pharmacy positions they desire. Ashley is a full-time pharmacist with a Doctorate of Pharmacy and a mother of three.


HB: So today, we have a special guest on the Talk to Your Pharmacist podcast. Our guest, Dr. Ashley Gulyas, is the co-founder of Academy and Apothecary. She has been reviewing, creating and formatting resumes for over 15 years. And Ashley specializes in assisting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians emphasize their skills and work experience to obtain the fulfilling pharmacy positions that they desire. Ashley is a full-time pharmacist with a doctorate of pharmacy and is a mother of three. Ashley, welcome to the Talk to Your Pharmacist podcast!

AG: Oh, thank you, Hillary, it’s great to be here. I’m excited to talk about resumes and pharmacy and answer any questions you might have.

HB: Awesome. And it’s a good time to be doing that now, especially with the residency process kind of in full swing. I know students are scrambling to get all of theirs organized and submitted so that they can get into the residency process. So this will be good and timely. So now that our listeners have heard a little bit about your background, maybe you can fill in any gaps from that intro and maybe share a little bit about your personal life.

AG: Sure. So I live in Greenville, South Carolina. And I went to Clemson for undergrad and then I went to Wingate for pharmacy school. And I graduated in 2013, actually, but I’ve been in pharmacy now this is my 16th year. So I’m one of those techs who finally got convinced to go to pharmacy school and finally went. So I’m married for almost 10 years, and we have three pretty rambunctious little kids. We’ve got three boys, age 1, 3 and 5, which has got me pretty busy just right there. And I currently work as a community pharmacy manager for a nationwide company that provides specialty meds and diabetic testing supplies.

HB: Alright. You fit all of that in.

AG: Yeah, somehow. I’m not really exactly sure how I do that. And then, of course, I’m a business owner, and I do my Academy and Apothecary as well. So yeah, pretty busy.

HB: Yeah. Well, so how did you decide to start Academy and Apothecary? And you know, is it just for pharmacists? Or just tell us a little bit more about — walk us through that journey.

AG: Sure. So a long time ago, another lifetime ago, I had a part-time job for a headhunter in Athens, Georgia. And I started looking at resumes all day long, was able to pick out the good ones versus the bad ones and the stuff that, you know, really could be fixed. And I kind of started picking out that some people just really didn’t know how to write them at all or how to format them. So I just kind of started doing it on the side for friends and family and just did it on and off. I’d probably do — I don’t know — four or five a year for a long time. And then when I was in pharmacy school, you know, we had to develop a CV. And I would start looking at my colleagues, and I’d be like, you know, this isn’t very good. So I helped do a CV workshop in pharmacy school, and I helped teach my colleagues in pharmacy school how to prepare a CV. And after I graduated, I started doing it on the side, giving people pointers. Then of course, people would always say to me, “You know, you should really do this as a business,” and I’d be like, “No, it’s kind of my hobby. It’s a weird thing. I don’t really know anything about being a business owner or an entrepreneur. I’m not really sure.” And then I was actually on this Facebook pharmacist moms group, and I was one of the first thousand who were in this group over a year ago, and now there’s over 18,000 of us in this group. And a lot of the questions and a lot of things we discuss are resume tips and formatting and what to put on there, what to leave off, and I started to notice that there’s a huge market for pharmacists in general right now because we have such a oversupply right now of pharmacists, and we’re all scrambling to find jobs. And honestly, most pharmacists have not had to make a resume.

HB: Wow.

AG: So I started saying, you know what, this is time. If I’m going to do it, I should do it. So when I was giving my tips online, so many people were like, you should start a business, you should start a business. So I said, “OK.” So literally driving down the road one day, I was like, “You know what, I should look into this.” I called my best friend/first cousin, who has a Master’s degree in education, and I said, “Hey, I’ve got this side business. I got an idea. If I write the content and do the formatting, will you be my copy editor?” OK, so I didn’t even know what a copy editor was. So really, what I asked her is, “Can you do all the grammatical reviews?” And she said, “Oh, like a copy editor.” And I said, “OK, sure.” So boom. That day, we decided to make it. And it’s called Academy and Apothecary, and built a website overnight. Boom. It was literally born overnight. And we cater to pharmacists, but we also do educators as well because Stephanie, my copy editor, is a teacher. So she feels like she can help teachers, and we do some teachers, but we mostly do pharmacists right now.

HB: Awesome. Wow, that is neat. And it ties back into the pharmacists mom’s group, which yeah, that’s interesting. So I’m not a mom yet, so I haven’t joined. So I’m not quite sure what all the discussions are, but that’s interesting that there’s such a big market for resumes and CVs and that I didn’t even consider that some people have never even made one. So Ashley, maybe to some, it may seem like an obvious question, but for others, why should pharmacists have a professional CV and cover letter? And why should they use a service to help them create that?

AG: Well, it’s maybe not a universal answer for everyone. But some people are probably naturally good at that, kind of like I am. So those types of people or maybe people who are hiring managers themselves who review resumes or CVs regularly, they probably don’t need someone to help them because they see so many, it’s kind of like how I got started. You know, you kind of start to see the good ones and the bad ones. And you can kind of learn from that. But I will say that like you had just kind of hinted on, I think what’s happened is with the pharmacist boom 10-15 years ago with so many pharmacists graduating and with all those sign-on bonuses people were getting for chains, where pharmacists were in such a huge demand that they were hired immediately after school by just applying online or word of mouth. So they never had a resume then. Now, skip forward 10 or 15 years, maybe they’ve been at that same job this whole time, and now they’re ready for one, and they realize that they haven’t either made one since school or they’ve never made one. So but to answer your question, I think that the reason that we need one is because there is a supply and demand problem for pharmacists. And for example, I just recently switched jobs. And during my application process, personally, I had applied to a position here locally in Greenville, and I know somebody who works there. And she gave me some feedback. I was able to get an interview, but she told me that they had over 90 pharmacists apply for this one position. And they only had the job posted for about four days. And they just cut it off because they were like, well surely we’ll be able to find a pharmacist in those 90 applicants. So that’s just in Greenville, South Carolina. That’s not in a major city, this is just in pretty much the sticks. So you can only imagine how amplified that would be somewhere else in the country where maybe the supply and the demand is even worse than it is here because here, it’s actually not too bad, technically, compared to the rest of the country. So that being said, you know, you want to be able to make sure that your resume or cover letter or both get through the application tracking system, which is an online tool that companies use to pretty much make piles of candidates. They have a good candidate pile, a maybe candidate pile and a bad candidate pile. So instead of back in the day when you would hand in your resume and people would skim it and put them literally in those three piles, now there’s a software system that does it. So you want to be in the good piles so that you are able to get pushed forward to the interview. If your resume lands in the bad pile, that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad candidate, it just means that for whatever reason, your resume is lacking something that they’re looking for. And you’re not even going to be offered an interview, and you’re going to get one of those very quick rejection emails sent back to you very quickly because you literally just didn’t make it through the filter. So super important to be able to get through that system. And then on top of that, when you get a live person looking at your stuff, the statistical average of how long a hiring manager looks at a resume is only 6 seconds. It takes 6 seconds before they can realize, good or bad. And you want — if you only have 6 seconds, you want those 6 seconds to count. So if you’re very skilled and you’re able to do it on your own, great. If not, hiring a professional service is certainly the way to go. And at the very least, as a pharmacist, this should really hit home to people. But always have a second set of eyes look over it. You just never know what you could possibly miss. And you always want to at least have somebody else look over it.

HB: Yeah.

AG: Somebody who may be very good at English, very good at formatting, you want to be very picky about who you pick too, not just like another fellow pharmacist because they probably don’t know anything more than you do. So you have to be very selective in who you pick.

HB: Well, Ashley, that is incredibly helpful. I think for a lot of people, the behind-the-scenes of what happens behind the interview process is just kind of a mystery. And so that was really helpful. You hit on some of those points on the different — that there are now services and so another thing that I’ve learned is that you’ve got to be really careful about what keywords are used for that job application to make sure that your resume includes those keywords because that’s going to be caught in the keyword search for the automated system. So you really nailed down all of those important points on why it’s so critical to have a professional CV and, you know, who needs to be looking at that. So what are some of the other big tips that pharmacists should know about creating a rockstar CV?

AG: Oh, man. Gosh, that could be a podcast in itself, just right there. One of the things that — the most obvious thing that I see when I look at someone’s resume or CV before I’ve even done anything to it, just the raw file that they send me, is a lot of times, there’s just a lot of inconsistencies in the formatting. For instance, lots of different sizes of fonts, multiple fonts. Maybe someone is using three or four fonts. They’re trying to get really artistic about it and trying to be really graphical in their resume. And you want it to be very elegant and traditional, and this is my personal opinion on a resume, but with us having a terminal doctorate-level degree, this is pretty much the most formal document that you could ever write about yourself. And it needs to be formal. So sticking with a very traditional font such as Times New Roman — it doesn’t have to be Times New Roman, but something similar to that with a very easy-to-read seraph. It’s just one of those things where you don’t want too much attention brought to it, but at the same time, you want it to come across as very elegant and neat. So a quick formatting thing would be making sure you’ve got a consistent font, using bold when it’s appropriate, using italics when it’s appropriate, being consistent. So if you bold the title of your position, bold all the titles of your positions. And making sure margins are equal throughout the document. Again, if you’ve only got 6 seconds, you would hate for someone to pull it out and say, “Gosh, this person doesn’t even know how to do simple formatting, like they’re probably very disorganized, they’re probably never going to show up on time, they don’t care.” That’s the impression, to me, that you would be giving off with a not very aesthetically pleasing or elegant resume. So you don’t want that impression if you’re not like that. If you are like that, then you’re probably not going to make it anyways. But you just want your first impression to be awesome. So that’s probably the first thing. And then you just want to work backwards. So look at the job posting and look at the types of jobs that you’re applying to. Get familiar with the types of descriptions and how they’re describing those positions for a clinical pharmacist or for a community pharmacist and work backwards. So if you see a lot of mentioning of patient care, you want to make sure you have patient care mentioned several times inside your resume or CV. The other two things I was going to mention is reverse chronological order is so important. So the thing that you have done most recently needs to be closest to the top because in hopes it’s the most relevant. And then the things that you have done a long time ago need to be towards the bottom of your document. And that being said, although you cannot discriminate for age, you certainly don’t want to be categorized as an older pharmacist because there’s some other issues going on with the market with hiring new grads versus older grads and salary requirements. So because of that, I would recommend if you are a pharmacist who’s been practicing for over 10 years, you might want to just leave off the information about the previous, like before the 10 years, because A, it’s probably not relevant to what’s going on in pharmacy today anyways. And then B, it’s going to just have a really big red flag that “you’re an older pharmacist,” which really has no bearing on whether you can do the job or not. But still, if you give them the information, they can discriminate against you omit. So just don’t give it to them, and they won’t know.

HB: That is so helpful, just all of those tips: formatting and where you put your information. Is it at the top or at the bottom? And then just kind of weaving in the importance of experience. So that’s all really helpful. So one thing you mentioned, what would you say is the difference between a resume versus a CV? And is there ever a time to use a resume versus the more formal, lengthy CV or Curriculum Vitae or Life’s Work?

AG: So that’s exactly the difference is that a CV or a Curriculum Vitae literally means curriculum, or the story of your life. So for a CV, you really don’t want to leave off anything. Everything goes on your CV, all the way back to your first rotations that you ever had, information about you being a pharmacy technician goes in there, every presentation that you’ve done. So it’s one of those documents that you really have to keep up with because if you are trying to create a CV from 10 years ago from scratch, that would be really pretty difficult to remember all of that information. So they can be any length. I have literally seen a CV that was over 30 pages. I updated it a little bit so it was only nine pages after I was done with it because there was a lot of space that could be taken out. But they can be very lengthy. I say a typical CV for someone who’s been practicing for 10 years or more is probably around six pages. So it has a lot of the same information. A CV always should have presentations, it should have publications, it should have lectures that you’ve taught or participated in, community service — what else? — scholarship. It’s literally everything that you’ve done that’s related to being a pharmacist. A resume is typically shorter, 1-2 pages. Two pages is completely acceptable and fine as a professional. So you don’t have the presentations on there, you don’t have your publications unless it’s super prestigious, and then you would probably try to find a way to put it on there. But typically, a resume has of course your contact information, some type of objective or professional summary, and it has your work history, your education and then sometimes, there’s a little bit of room and you can put some skills on there or you can put some community service. But that’s pretty much about it for a resume. And to answer your question about when you should use which one, oh man, there’s so much bias in that question because there are some people who only believe that somebody should ever have a CV because you’ve got a doctorate degree, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a CV. So there’s bias by the person who is looking at your document, and then there’s your own personal bias on what you personally believe you should be presenting. So it’s not a cut-and-dry answer. I can give you a little bit of guidance that if you’re a very clinical pharmacist or you’re in academia in any way, it should no doubt be a CV. There’s no room for a resume in those two fields, in my opinion. If you are a community pharmacist, most of the time, you could probably get away with a resume, and it’s fine. Also, a staffing position at a hospital, resume is also probably fine. A personal opinion on it, and technically, because we have that terminal doctorate degree — or most of us do — it’s never wrong to submit a CV, ever. Because that is what is expected of people at the doctorate level. But there’s going to be people who think it’s overkill, especially if you’ve just worked at Walgreens or CVS, people who have their own internal bias are going to be going, “Why did he give me a CV? I just needed a resume.” So I guess it just kind of — it’s not a cut-and-dry answer. It’s more about what you’ve done in your past and where you’re headed I think is probably a better way to answer that question. Of course, I’d be more than happy to discuss people’s one-on-one situations privately, but that’s not a question that you can just kind of universally answer, unfortunately. It is the No. 1 question I get, but it has to specific to that person.

HB: Interesting. So Ashley, you know, a lot of times, I think pharmacists may be modest or they may not know what’s important. So how do you help pharmacists pull out their strengths and relevant skills so that they can stand out?

AG: So this is something I’m going to need to develop on my own, personally, but I guess it’s my secret sauce. So with every order that I do for someone, when I’m writing for them and doing a custom order, I do a phone consultation with them. And I just try to get to know them, so I don’t look at their resume, I usually close my computer, close all the information, and I just start writing. I’ve got questions, we just have a conversation, and I’m able to pick up on things. You know, I can kind of tell from their personality how well they flow with a conversation, if they’re introverted, extroverted, I kind of can read between the lines of what they’re talking about. I ask them some targeted questions like why did you become a pharmacist? And tell me some things that you’re passionate about. And then I can just pull a lot of the information out of them. I don’t really have a very good formula for it. It’s just something that I’m good at, I guess, is just pulling information out of people and getting them to open up and talk. So I usually just take a ton of notes. Sometimes, it’s on their skills — sometimes, I’m making notes about their skills and their personality, and I use that in their resume to make them stand out.

HB: Awesome. Yeah, that was kind of one of my questions was just a little deeper on how the process works. And so hearing that it’s very personalized, having a conversation with each pharmacist, makes a lot of sense because then you can help to really start to know them and build out their strengths.

AG: Yeah, exactly. It sounds corny, but like I try to like become them when I’m writing. So I try to get to know them enough that I can represent them well, and I try to think about how if I were them, how I would write it. So I try to get through the conversation enough to know them well enough to be able to write for them, if that makes sense.

HB: Yeah. But not completely do it for them.

AG: Right. I mean, they kind of have to participate.

HB: Sure. Well, so Ashley, we’re all very impressed. How do you fit it in with a full-time job and family?

AG: Yeah, I don’t really know how I do that. That’s a good question. So up until recently, I worked for a large chain, so I had days off during the week, so I would schedule a lot of my interviews during that time. And naptime was usually utilized where I would get to some work. But my full-time position has changed a lot, so now I just work Monday through Friday. And now, I do things after the kids go to bed. So after 9 o’clock is pretty much prime time for me. So where most people just kind of veg out on the couch and watch junk on TV, I decided that I’ll be productive during that time. That’s when I usually do the writing, and I try to do the interviewing after 9 o’clock as well. But I’m on the East Coast, so for some people, that’s only like 7 o’clock or 8 o’clock, so it kind of works out. So yeah, I just do it in the evenings while they’re sleeping and maybe a little bit on my lunch break, sometimes I’ll wake up early in the morning and do it before work, before the kids wake up. So I’ve got a great husband. He’s fully supportive. He’s an accountant, so that’s really helpful in the business world. And he helps me with the business and getting organized and keeps my finances straight. And he’s great with the kids. So it’s great to have a good partner and a solid support team to help me out because I definitely.

HB: Right. That’s awesome. So Ashley, what excites you most about the future of pharmacy?

AG: Well, I’m really excited about the direction that pharmacy’s headed. I think there’s a lot of bad press about the direction that pharmacy’s headed, but for me, I’m most excited about being able to use my degree at the top of my education level. So being able to do more patient-centered care and moving from a dispensing payment role to an outcomes payment model for pharmacists and making sure that we are getting paid for the outcomes that we’re being able to produce. It’s been proven over and over again that pharmacists who are included in the healthcare team save the healthcare system money. So that’s where MTM pretty much came from, Medication Therapy Management, using outcomes and Mirixa that people have talked about on the community setting. But I mean, that’s where I think we’re headed. And I’m excited about it. I think there’s a lot of changes, and we’re going through a phase right now where it’s very up in the air, and nobody knows how this payment model’s going to work, so a lot of companies are just really concerned about what their bottom line is going to be and where the money’s going to come from. But I think that a few years into it, and I think that we will be able to prove it, and I think we’ll be even more profitable because we’ll be able to prove to the country that not only are the most accessible resource available with having one pharmacist every — what? — five miles or something the statistic is, you know, accessible, but we’re going to be able to be the one that saves the most money. So I’m excited about that. I’m very excited about that. You know, I think that the days of being a mat pharmacist, which is what I call it, you know, where the pharmacist stands at the computer on a mat in a community setting — those days, I hope, are over and that we’ll be getting out more and interacting more with patients and giving more job responsibilities to the technicians, if that’s possible. So I’m excited about where pharmacy’s going. I think we’ve proven that we’re a good addition to the healthcare team, and I think just give it a few more years of this rockiness, and we’re going to be in every single healthcare team in any setting, so I’m excited about it.

HB: Yeah, I think that there’s a lot of opportunity. And it’s great that you’re helping pharmacists to stand out and to show off all of their skills. So yeah. So as our final question, Ashley, what is some advice that you would share with your younger self or for other pharmacists who are just getting started in their career?

AG: Oh my goodness. So my younger self, oh gosh, that’s a podcast right there. My younger self, I would just say to stick with it and to keep the passion going. It’s never steered me wrong. It took me a long time to get to where I wanted to go. But I’m happy where I am. I had some really great pharmacists help me out and guide me along the way. And I’m just super glad that I’m able to repay the profession that’s always been so great to me. And I hope that I’m encouraging and inspiring other pharmacists to be excited about their career again and fall back in love with being a pharmacist. So I don’t know how much advice I would give my younger self because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been a pharmacy tech for 10 years. So I mean, I’m pretty happy with it. I mean, I wish I had figured out that I wanted to be a pharmacist a little bit younger so maybe I wouldn’t have quite the student loan debt and I would have been able to practice a little bit longer before I had kids. But I mean, I really have no regrets whatsoever about that. And then younger pharmacists, I would say, I think a lot of pharmacists that I speak with, those who are about to graduate or who have only been practicing for a year, are very wrapped up in the fact that they don’t have their dream job or they’re not working in the exact environment that they had dreamed of. And the advice I would have to them is just, that’s OK. This is your first job. And you’re not supposed to find your dream job in the first job because there will be nothing to look forward to. So I would tell them to, if you’re looking for a job, just get a job. Get some experience under your belt right now, figure out what you like, what you don’t like, because you probably don’t know what kind of pharmacist you really and truly want to be until you actually start working in the field and try it out. So my advice would be when you’re ready to look for the next job, it doesn’t have to be your dream job either. It’s just your next job. So keep that in mind that it’s always good to diversify your career portfolio and that this job doesn’t mean that you’re in a dead-end job. It just means it’s the job you have for right now in this exact moment of your life. And working towards your end goal is what you should be doing. But don’t get too wrapped up in the fact that you currently work for CVS and “you’re so much better than that,” and you need to be working in a clinical setting at Johns Hopkins. OK, well then that could be like your 10-year goal. But don’t get too wrapped up in it right now. Like baby steps. One job will lead to another. Keep networking. Keep doing all the things that you need to do. Don’t ever stop learning. Keep that learning going. And one day, you’ll be able to reach it. Just don’t get tied up in the right now.

HB: Well, Ashley, it was such a pleasure to get to chat with you. Excited about the things that you’re doing and all of the great advice that you shared with other pharmacists out there because there is so much opportunity, and it is, it’s maybe not an instant dream job, but you know, you’ve got to get that CV right, learn how to network and just keep going forward and keep working hard. So it was such a pleasure to have you as a guest on the Talk to Your Pharmacist podcast.

AG: Well, thank you, Hillary. It was great. I really enjoyed getting to know you a little bit better.

Connect with Ashley on Linkedin:


Hillary Blackburn

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