Applying for a job in science or technology? Here's our advice for crafting the perfect 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:
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.
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."
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.
- 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!
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