Applying for a job in science or technology? Here's our advice for crafting the perfect CV

Writing a CV

Everybody talks about how important it is to make a good first impression when you attend a job interview, but in most cases, it's actually your CV that's responsible for making a good first impression on potential employers. Sure, you should wear smart clothes and speak clearly when you're being interviewed, but if your CV isn't up to snuff, you won't even make it to the interview stage in the first place.

If you've been applying for science jobs for a while without hearing anything back, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and rethink your CV. If you want yours to stand out from the stack of documents every employer receives when they advertise a new vacancy, here's what you need to do:

The Basics

Be sure to include the following essential details:

  • Your full name
  • Your current address
  • Your telephone number(s)
  • Your email address (make sure it's something professional - don't use your Hotmail address from when you were a teenager!)

If you have a clean driving licence and access to a vehicle, include this information as well. It may give you the edge over applicants who do not have their own means of transportation.

You will also need to state if your current employer requires you to serve a notice period before changing jobs.

Areas of Expertise

Once you've included your personal / contact details, add a brief section entitled 'Areas of Expertise'. This should simply comprise a short bullet-point list (5 or 6 items max.) of the key skills that make you a great candidate. For example:

  • Data analysis
  • Team management
  • Report writing

This makes it easy for the employer to see your potential value right off the bat.

Education & Work Experience

This part forms the meat of any CV. List your experiences in date order, starting with your most recent role(s). Here's a rough example of what this should look like:

GRADUATE DATA ANALYST

JULY 2015 - PRESENT

Description of this role and what it required of you. If this experience was especially relevant to the job(s) you're now applying for, you may wish to include a bullet-point list of the duties involved.

BSc MATHEMATICS (UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM)

SEPTEMBER 2012 - JULY 2015

Description of your course and the relevant skills you learned / knowledge you gained.

And so on. Try to focus on things that are relevant to science/technology, particularly the field you're looking to enter.

Previous STEM jobs should take precedence, but if you don't have any particularly relevant work experience yet, put the emphasis on your scientific education. In any case, be sure to emphasise responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate your competence and versatility.

It's worth including non-scientific education and work experience, but this shouldn't take up too much space if it's not relevant. Some people simply refer to 'various part-time jobs' or 'assorted temporary roles', but before you take this approach, think carefully - some roles may have taught you relevant skills even if they themselves were nothing to do with science or technology.

Interests

It's important to include some information about what you get up to in your free time, but remember, the employer isn't interested in your life story. You don't want to come across as a work-obsessed robot, but ideally, your hobbies and interests will complement the professional self-portrait you've been painting elsewhere in the document. For instance:

"In my spare time, I enjoy reading and catching up with the latest science/technology news. I subscribe to a number of publications, including New Scientist and Wired, and I also spend a lot of time on the Internet reading about topics that interest me. I also enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking and rock climbing."

References

It's usually fine to save space by writing 'References available on request' at the end of your CV. However, check the details of each job you apply for - some may specifically state that references are required, in which case you'll need to include them in the document you send.

General Advice

  • Be concise - don't waffle. Employers generally don't have time to read essays from potential new recruits.

  • Make absolutely sure to double-check your CV before sending it to anyone. Nothing takes the shine off a well-written CV like a spelling mistake or grammatical error!

  • Don't be afraid to tweak your CV each time you send it. Sometimes it pays to tailor it to the job you're applying for (even if you're also sending a covering letter).

Visit our CV Advice page for more useful tips!

Ready to start applying for jobs? Click here to browse the latest scientific vacancies.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

STEM workers

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These disciplines are often referred to collectively, especially in government policies, education / employment statistics, and news articles - you've probably seen a lot of headlines like these:

STEM jobs were hardest to fill in 2016

Women still under-represented in STEM industries, report finds

New STEM education programme rolled out in selected schools

As you'll know if you've ever read any of the stories attached to those headlines, STEM as a whole has a lot of problems at the moment. Many organisations have great difficulty finding qualified workers to fill demanding science jobs, and in addition to the much-publicised lack of diversity in STEM fields, there simply aren't enough young people participating and pursuing a future in STEM, which means that the problems faced by these industries will likely get worse as time goes on.

But is that an issue for everyone else? Just how important is STEM to the world at large?

Why STEM should be important to everyone

The answer, of course, is that STEM is very, very important for the whole planet, and crucial to the continued prosperity of the human race. It hopefully goes without saying that modern society as we know it relies heavily on STEM industries and the talented workers within those industries. Here are just three examples:

  • Computers - The modern world relies on computers to an extent that would have been virtually unimaginable just a few decades ago. We use computers to talk to friends, do the shopping, listen to music, and learn about everything from the history of the world to the correct method for laying a floor. Computers tell us where to go and what's happening there. You probably use computers in any number of different ways over the course of an average day, and it's all because of skilled people in STEM roles who worked hard to make this possible.

  • Medicine - While it's unlikely that mankind will ever eradicate all diseases, it cannot be understated how much safer we all are today thanks to modern medicine. In the last century alone, talented STEM workers saved countless lives by curing smallpox and developing vaccines for polio, measles, diphtheria, and countless other illnesses. One expert has predicted that we will see a "sudden surge" in effective cancer treatments within the next five to ten years. At this very moment, countless people are living and breathing and going about their lives because of the medical advances made by STEM workers.

  • Transport - It's easy to take modern transportation systems for granted. Cars allow you to travel miles in minutes; railways keep entire countries connected; aeroplanes take thousands of people from one side of the world to the other every day. Once again, all of this is thanks to STEM visionaries who never stop working to bring the world closer together and create more and more efficient ways to get from A to B.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

Candidate Journey

‘Candidate experience’ isn’t just some distant buzzword that your science organisation can safely ignore – because, let’s face it, the candidates for your vacancies certainly don’t, and nor do your competitors. According to a survey on the UK candidate experience cited by online recruitment resource Onrec, 94% of the UK recruitment and HR professionals quizzed considered a positive candidate experience a priority.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly an easy or quick process to cultivate a great candidate experience at your company. It’s a task that will require constant effort at every touchpoint, so here are some of the things you can do to optimise the candidate journey to the benefit of both the jobseeker and your own firm.

Try out your own organisation's application process

Past research has indicated a huge disconnect between candidates and employers as far as their perceptions of the candidate experience is concerned, with many candidates finding themselves taking hours over an application process that the given company may think only requires 30 minutes’ of time investment.

So, this particular advice is simple: go through your own organisation’s application process to ascertain the reality of the situation. You may well immediately spot issues with the process that you never expected to see, and it’s fair to say that there’s no such thing as an ‘over-optimised’ job application process – there’s always room to improve.

Place the emphasis on relationships rather than CVs

Even in the marketing world that for so long seemed to treat customers in a somewhat impersonal manner, it is becoming widely accepted that people need to be treated like people, rather than numbers. This has led so many firms to invest heavily in creating a customised experience for those who wish to purchase from them – so why isn’t the same happening with employers for candidates?

As articles like this one from CNBC indicate, “ghosting” – the phenomenon of an employer suddenly ceasing to communicate with a candidate in whom they previously seemed interest – appears to be becoming an ever-greater problem.

With statistics continuing to suggest a frighteningly large percentage of candidates who never hear back from a prospective employer after their last interview or even simply the initial job application, it’s fair to say that there’s huge scope for your company to stand out when it really works hard on the candidate journey.

Consider what the ideal candidate journey may look like

This is the kind of thing for which a team meeting and a load of A3 paper could come in very useful. Planning out the process that you would like to unfold for people applying for a job with you – from the initial point of contact, right through to onboarding – could throw up many obvious optimisation opportunities.

If that sounds a bit intimidating, ask yourself some teasing questions first, such as “What does the ideal candidate look like?” and “What is the kind of communication from a prospective employer to which that ideal candidate is most likely to respond?”

You should also consider how you can make that candidate feel welcome at every stage of the application process, and if all of that sounds like too much effort, you might think about how communication of a more automated nature could be used at various stages.

Would you like to strengthen your own organisation’s chances of filling its open science jobs? A linkup with the science recruitment experts at Hyper Recruitment Solutions might turn out to be the perfect first step.

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