Writing a CV or resume can be a very time consuming process; researching, scouring your memory for the name of your old boss, chasing recommendations and querying start dates. When finally completed, it’s not a task you have the time to repeat. So that’s why you are still using the same tired document that you created four years ago – does this sound familiar?
If so, you could also be finding that whilst looking for a new role in Pharma and Life Sciences, hiring managers are calling you back less and less and job interviews are few and far between.
It doesn’t matter how well put together your CV might be, if it is out of date then it isn’t going to successfully sell your professional attributes to an employer. So, with high response rates and applicant tracking systems lurking behind every 'Apply Now' button, it's more important than ever to send in an updated, modern resume or CV.
Ready to update your CV? Here are our 8 top tips to help you to stand out against the competition.
Give your headline a new lease of life
Think of your headline as the calling card of your CV – it is likely the first thing your potential employer will see, so make sure it is clear so that you can be contacted easily.
- Your headline should include your contact information (First and last name, phone number, location and professional email address)
- For safety and data protection reasons, you may prefer to add your town or city instead of your full address
- Add a Linkedin profile if you have one, and if you don’t, set one up (it’s free!)
- Make sure your online profile accurately reflects your CV and is up to date
Include a personal statement
Underneath your CV headline, make sure to include a brief overview which outlines who you are, what you do and what you can bring to the table. Make it short but impactful and show the Hiring Manager what they could be missing out on if they don’t invite you for interview.
- Keep it short and snappy. Don’t exceed 3–4 lines of space on your CV
- Stick to the basic formula: who you are, what you can offer and what your goals are
- Mention your professional title and experience in the first sentence
- Show passion, dedication and specialised experience
- Close by stating ongoing career goal
- Uses keywords relating to skills, experience and job title.
Use keywords that are relevant to your ideal role
Most hiring managers use an Applicant Tracking System which is used to crawl digital CVs to find certain phrases or keywords required for their job role or relevant to the candidate they are looking for.
Therefore, the more relevant keywords you are using within the body text of your CV, the better chances you have of the recruiter finding your CV and inviting you in for an interview.
- Tailor your CV to your ideal job title to show that you’re professional and engaged
- Use the job ad as a cheat sheet to help you focus on what the hiring manager is searching for
- Google industry keywords that are relevant to positions that interest you
Reform your formatting
When updating your CV it is important to think about how it looks, as well as what it says. Avoid large blocks of text and try to break up the content into sections to make your CV easy to scan.
- Set all margins to 1” on all sides of the page
- Make sure the sections within your CV are clear and easy to spot for hiring managers
- Choose a layout that is simple and elegant
- Save your CV as a pdf unless the job ad says otherwise – this will ensure your formatting, layout and fonts will not change when opened on another computer
- Make sure you save your CV with a professional file name – you’ll be surprised by how many ‘CVtemplate1.pdf’ files arrive in inboxes
Freshen up your fonts
The font you choose to use is one of those little changes that can go a long way. Just like fashion, fonts change over time so make sure your CV is moving with the times.
- Pick a sleek, modern font that’s easy to read. Georgia, Arial, or Verdana are a few good choices
- Use 12pt for the body text
- Raise to 14-16pt for your section headers
- Stick to only two fonts – anything more can look unprofessional
- Go bold to emphasise headers or keywords that are relevant
Quantify your achievements
Your work experience section does a lot of the heavy lifting in your CV and is often the first section a Hiring Manager looks at. Remember, recruiters may have 100s of CVs to search through so make yours easy for them to read quickly. The layout and language needs to be clear, concise and to the point. A gigantic wall of text makes it difficult for someone to digest quickly, which will put you at a disadvantage.
- Use bullets points, instead of long sentences to make your work experience stand out more
- Use up to 6 bullets for your most current job and then whittle it down to 3-4 for previous roles
- Use numbers and quantifiable achievements instead of words when you can - numbers really make things stand out and draw attention
- Grab the recruiter’s attention with action verbs and power words
- Delete any work experience history that isn’t relevant - The ideal CV length is two pages, so space can be limited
- If you've been in the workforce for several years, you may not need to list every job you've ever had when writing a modern CV. Most professional CV writers recommend going back 10–15 years at most
Show off your skills
The skills section of your CV shows employers you have the abilities required to succeed in the role and is the perfect addition to both highlight relevant keywords and showcase experience. Think of a skills section as a highlights reel. Pull out all of the most important skills from your work history and list them clearly.
- Use a bullet point format on the first page of your CV, above your work experience
- Ensure your best skills are at the top
- Pepper keywords from the job description within this section to give your CV ATS-appeal
Take advantage of free CV builders
If you are struggling with the look of your CV, resume building tools such as Zety can be really helpful. They make it very easy to give your CV a more ‘designed’ feel and are simple to use.
All you need to do is upload your word document and choose a template! This will make your resume look more modern, professional and eye catching.
- Choose a sleek, modern CV template
- Tailor it to the industry you’re interested in
- Stick to muted, calm colours such as blue, grey or green
- Download both word doc. and pdf. files so that you can retain both for future use
With all that advice, all that’s left is to get updating! If you’d like to speak to one of our consultants about refining your CV with a view to applying to a particular role or sector within Pharma and Life Sciences, get in touch and we can discuss this with you in more detail.
Looking to interview within Pharma or Life Sciences?
You can check out all the current vacancies we have available via our pharma jobs page or submit your CV using the button below and someone will be in touch!