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Advice from a Science Specialist on How to Write a Pharma CV


Your CV is usually the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager gets of you as a candidate so remember you are using this document to sell your skills, experience, and character to them. The past year has seen the way we work, hire, and look for jobs change but a good CV remains crucial. What has changed is what employers are focusing on.

Remote working has resulted in employers placing a renewed emphasis on a candidate's soft skills, for example, strong communication skills, flexibility, and the ability to work off your own initiative alongside strong technical skills. It’s important to highlight, and give examples of, these attributes throughout your CV.

A hiring manager's decision on whether to proceed to the next stage of the process is based on this document and often it is the little things that influence the most. So, though it may be time consuming, make sure it is ‘right’ before submitting.

Here are some simple science and pharma CV tips and tricks to help you write a great CV and show you have the skills for the role you’re applying for.

8 CV tips for a pharmaceutical industry job

1) Remain consistent and check your spellings

Use a standard font type, size, colour, and spacing between lines and keep the styling consistent. This will make your CV easier to read. Be careful with spelling and grammar too. Spelling errors can be detrimental on a CV.

Once you have a good draft always ask someone to proofread. This can make all the difference. Otherwise, spellcheck and free apps like Grammarly will be your new best friend! Another simple tip is to include your contact details (link to your LinkedIn profile, email address, and phone number) to make it easy to reach you.

2) Include a CV bio

A brief synopsis/career summary at the beginning of your CV is a great way to open. Think of it as the ‘Ok so, tell me a bit about yourself…’ at the beginning of an interview or your ‘elevator pitch.’ It can be hard to get your personality across in the other sections of a CV, this is your window of opportunity!

3) Keep to 2 pages max

The days of ‘the longer CV the better’ are gone. Aim for a brief but detailed account of your career history and skills. Cap it at 1-2 pages while making sure to include specific detail on lab systems, programmes/processes used, techniques learned, training received, etc.

​Include all testing techniques acronyms you have experience in too, such as HPLC, ELISA, FTIR. Though your experience may not be directly linked to the desired role, the recruiter may see transferrable skills which could work in your favour.

4) Use the job description as a guide

Once you construct a strong base CV, then your CV will just need minor tweaks by using the job spec before submitting individual applications. For example, if technical writing of SOP’s for lab equipment is a key role responsibility, make sure you emphasise your own experience in writing and updating SOP’s throughout your CV.

By tailoring your CV around the job description like this you make it clear that you’re a strong candidate to interview and give yourself the best chance at grabbing the reader’s attention.

5) Describing your work experience

Make sure your work experience is written in reverse-chronological order (ie. current/most recent experience should be first). Outline your experience in each role using bullet points, opening each bullet point with different verbs eg. coordinated, designed, demonstrated, led, developed, collaborated, conducted, mentored, undertook.

6) Highlighting your skills

Use the skills section to express your personality and character alongside your technical skills that will add value to a new role. Include all extra languages, licences, awards won, and other impressive projects you have been involved in, again paying attention to the skills listed on the job spec. This can be a nice conversation starter during an interview.

7) Don’t leave any room for doubt

Explain any elements of your CV that may raise some question marks. For example, moving from role to role in different companies – maybe you worked on several contracting roles, but ensure you explain that. Another example may be the presence of gaps on your CV, whether it was time spent travelling or caring for a relative, make it clear to the reader so that they do not make assumptions.

8) ​Pharmaceutical Science graduate CV tips

If you don’t have much pharma industry experience or are a recent graduate, ensure you fill the education section with all relevant module titles, course work and/or placements you have carried out. Any experience working on relevant programmes/processes (even if it is short) is better than none and may catch the reader’s eye. Whatever you do, don’t belittle your own experience.

Overall, it’s a competitive market at the moment. By constructing an easy-to-read, concise CV you will reassure the hiring manager that you have the drive and accountability to perform will already be in the recruiter’s/manager’s good books.

Put these tips into practice and reach out to a specialised recruiter for more advice and info on job opportunities. You can also download our CV Handbook which has lots of helpful tips.

Looking for a new job in the pharmaceutical industry? You can browse all live pharma jobs here or get in touch, I’d be delighted to advise on your next career move.

This article was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated and republished.