From a recruiter’s perspective, a CV is a crucial job search document, and our extensive experience in accessing CVs means we have an intuitive knowledge of what a good CV looks like. Furthermore our in-depth understanding of the needs of our clients also means we intimately know what they expect and want to see, in a CV. Here are our suggestions of what a good, scientific CV should include:
Getting the layout of your CV right is critical for allowing the reader to find specific pertinent details with ease. The layout also influences the impression the reader has of you – for example an unclear or unorganised CV may imply that you are unorganised.
- Clear headings and a clearly defined structure will make the document ‘flow’ and seem straightforward to read;
- Headings in bold or underlined also breaks up sections of text which helps to catch the eye of the reader;
- It is useful to have your job title and the company you work/worked for underlined or in bold, as this is what a recruiter may look at first to determine if you have the right kind of experience and background for a particular role;
- Always structure your work experience in reverse chronological order. Employers are generally interested in your current or most recent experience first, especially in the science industries where skills need to be constantly up to date.
We have received feedback that some people worry about the length of their CV, but we suggest that as long as it covers all of your relevant experience it will be well received, within reason, regardless of the number of sheets of paper – don’t be worried about providing too much detail.
- Start with personal details such as your full name, daytime/evening and mobile telephone numbers, email address, home address and the status of your driving license;
- A personal profile or summary to introduce yourself will outline the reader’s impression of you as it will be the first thing of any depth they will read. This also is a chance to provide an insight into your personality and personal attributes;
- If it summarises succinctly the information you have portrayed in your CV then you stand an excellent chance of being remembered by the reader;
- Always ensure that grammar and spelling is perfect, this is simple and essential – use spell check.
Your CV should always focus on the relevant positions you have held and within each position you should include an overview of your main responsibilities, the transferable skills that you developed and all of your major achievements in that position. Internal promotions should also be treated as separate positions, with the job title and date included – let the reader see your progression!
- Focus on concise and specific descriptions of skills.
- Using numbers helps the reader to retain the information – i.e. the number of staff you were responsible for, the amount of money you saved the company, the percentage increase in efficiency you were responsible for etc. Concrete facts look and read much better in CVs, than generalisations.
- A method you could bear in mind when giving concise examples would be ‘STAR’ – describe the Situation, Task, Action and Result, again bearing in mind results with quantifiable answers are better.
Professional qualifications and any memberships you have with professional bodies should be listed on your CV. In addition, note any appropriate training courses you have completed and any qualifications you have gained as a result – showing you are developing yourself continuously gives a good impression and also means you will have up to date knowledge which may be essential for a specific scientific position.
- List your qualifications, the grade you achieved, along with where and when they were achieved. It might be sensible to consider that the more professional experience you have, the less detail about your education may be needed.
- Again, for those with degrees and above, O Level/GCSE subjects do not need to be individually listed but a number could be provided instead.
- To save space on your last page, full references do not need to be given, simply use the line “References available on request”, showing you are willing to provide them if required.
- CVs should be professional at all times and therefore we do not recommend using any form of decoration. Coloured or patterned borders are unnecessary, unprofessional and distracting, and there is also no need for a photo.
- Also ensure your email address is appropriate, the best set up is: email@example.com for a more professional email.
Finally, when applying directly to a job advert, it is worth tailoring your CV to match the requirements outlined in the job specification and/or of the company hiring. Key words within the advert should be featured in your CV, making it easy for the recruiter to see your skills match what they are looking for and that your values match those of their client.