Four Steps to a Perfect CV

northfolk-Ok76F6yW2iA-unsplash

When you write your CV, it may end up being just a list of your education, experiences and skills.  You may not have thought about the length, formatting or what perception you are giving the reader. One of the things people don't know is an employer spends just a few seconds looking at a CV. This is before either thinking ‘I want to know more about this person’ or ‘nope, not for us’! There are a few standard rules to follow when writing your CV. You can get over these hurdles and make sure you are giving the best impression possible. Here are some tips to write your perfect CV:

1. Keep it to 1 page

Employers don’t spend long looking at a CV. They are more likely to scan it for a few seconds and check whether you have relevant skills and experiences. And this is just to get you to the next stage of the application process. This process filters out candidates quickly so you need to grab their attention as fast as possible. Having long lists and sentences or a CV that is more than 2 pages long won’t do this! The best CVs are concise and kept to 1 page, but you can go to 2 pages if necessary. Be careful of writing a CV that is 1 ½ pages long, as this looks messy – it may require you to edit and format so it takes up a full page but it’s worth it!

2. Put the most relevant experience first

For some people, their education is most relevant to the job they are applying for, and for others, their experience is. Tailor your CV according to what you are applying for and don’t be afraid to change the format so that the first thing an employer sees is what you want them to see! For example, if I have a Biology degree but want to apply for a role in banking, and have done an internship at a bank, I could put my experience section at the top and education further down. They will still want to see your education but it’s not as relevant for the role so you can include it later.

3. Look forward, not back

A really common lens that people look through when creating their CVs is that it’s a historical document, all about their past experiences. Contrary to this popular belief, the best CVs are actually forward looking – they position you for the next role you want to go into, rather than limit you to what you have done in the past. Yes, of course you are writing about the experiences you have had, but especially if you want to make a change in your career, think about how you are positioning yourself by pulling out things that show your potential for the future role you want.

4. Use keywords

This all goes back to catching the reader’s attention in the first few seconds of them looking at your CV. If you are applying for a specific role, look at the language used in the job description and see what key words you can match to your experiences and therefore use in your CV. If you are preparing your CV for future applications, think about the most relevant skills you need for the type of role you are applying for, and use those words when you are describing your experiences.   All of the points above go back to putting yourself in the reader’s shoes when writing your CV. If you were hiring someone, what would you look for? How long would you spend if you had hundreds or even thousands of candidates applying for a position? What would they need to put on their CV to stand out to you? Keep it concise, relevant, future-focused and use key words relating to the role you are applying for.

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, watch our webinar on How Science Graduates Can Get a High Paying Job Outside the Lab Even if You Have Little to No Work Experience.

4 comments

Cover Letters for Science Jobs Outside the Lab - Outside The Lab

[…] be talking about, and choose experiences that match these. These should be expanding on what is on your CV rather than repeating it. Think about how your experience would help the company for the specific […]
Read more
Read less
What to Research Before Applying for Jobs Outside the Lab - Outside The Lab

[…] to get a sense of the way they communication the language used on their website. When you write your CV and cover letter, you can match their […]
Read more
Read less
How to Navigate Your Career Like an Entrepreneur - Outside The Lab

[…] Previously, IQ (general intelligence) and EQ (emotional intelligence) have been seen as markers of high potential. Now, just like an entrepreneur adapts their skills and business models to changing conditions or personal interests, so does the job-seeker. How adaptable you are is becoming increasingly important. Companies often require their employees to take on a broad range of duties or wear multiple hats. And it’s especially important to show your adaptability when making a career transition. Doing this at all stages of a job application process is crucial, including positioning yourself for future roles on your CV. […]
Read more
Read less
Do I Emphasise Experience or Education On My CV? - Outside The Lab

[…] my experience, followed by skills and other interests. Since then, I realised how much you need to tailor each CV to the job you’re applying for. As I have applied for a range of jobs, I’ve realised they can […]
Read more
Read less