CV Tips - Crafting a Compelling CV as a Life Science Contractor

Posted Aug 24, 2023

With over 20 years’ experience in project resourcing, our resourcing team have had the privilege of reviewing countless CVs and identifying key elements that can make yours stand out. Below are some of our resourcing teams’ insider tips that can help you create a CV that not only highlights your strengths but also addresses potential concerns that recruiters and employers might have.

CV Tip #1 – Get the Basics Right

Your CV header and professional summary might seem basic, but it holds immense significance. It’s the equivalent as the blurb at the back of the book, offering a preview of the content that follows.

In the header, include your full name, a current email address, and an active phone number. Don’t forget to provide your citizenship or visa status, which can be crucial for certain roles. If you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, don’t hesitate to include the URL as it allows employers to delve deeper into your professional journey.

Your professional summary should be succinct yet impactful. Within 3-4 lines, you should be able to summarise your qualifications, industry experience and any major projects that you have worked on. If you’ve worked on Capital Projects for example, with a notable budget, this is the place to highlight it. Think of your professional summary as your CV’s elevator pitch—a snapshot of your expertise and potential.

CV Tip #2 – Tailor your CV to the Job Description

Hiring teams are increasingly adopting automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in their hiring processes, using computers to quickly filter and screen out candidates at application stage. To ensure that your application doesn’t get screened out, make sure that you integrate the keywords from the job description and showcase how your skills align with what the position demands. This alignment not only demonstrates your understanding and suitability for the role, but also makes it easier for the client to recognise your potential contribution.

CV Tip – #3- Showcase your Experience to Date

When detailing your work experience include at least 3-4 bullet points under each of the positions you have held. As a contractor, it’s vital that you sell the skills you can bring to support successful project delivery. The processes, equipment, projects, systems, and facilities you have worked on previously are critical.  For example, if the client is looking for someone with design and you have worked on the design of that equipment, that needs to be communicated clearly in your CV.

In situations where hands-on experience with specific equipment or skills is lacking but you’ve received training, it’s worth presenting this on your CV. Demonstrating a solid foundation with phrases like “Sound knowledge in…” underscores your potential to contribute effectively, despite not having direct hands-on experience.

CV Tip – #4 – Provide Context regarding Contract Lengths 

It’s also important to include dates and the length of contracts when outlining your work experience as this often can help to mitigate potential questions that can arise from the client. If you had a career gap(s) for example (which can often be for various legitimate reasons), be upfront about this and let the recruiter know before applying for a role. By doing so, you provide context and eliminate any potential misconceptions that might arise during the screening process.

If your previous experience consists of you working on a short-term contract offered by a client, then mention that in brackets on your CV next to the date/year. Short-term contracts can sometimes be perceived as red flags on a CV, especially if there’s no context provided. Without an explanation for example, the client may assume that the candidate is not likely to stay through the contract period. By showcasing the specific time frame of your short-term contract and providing some more context, it immediately offers more clarity and addresses any concerns about your commitment.

If you have a mix of both staff and contract roles on your CV then make sure to specify this, by mentioning them next to the corresponding date and title. This offers a comprehensive view of your career journey, showcasing your ability to seamlessly transition between different working environments. If you’ve primarily held staff roles but are open to contract opportunities, don’t hesitate to mention this as well. It’s an opportunity to proactively address any concerns recruiters might have about your willingness to embrace contractual positions.

CV Tip  – #5 Demonstrate your Commitment to Continuous Learning

Within your CV and during interviews, it’s crucial to highlight your commitment to ongoing education. Moreover, make sure to emphasize pertinent credentials you have obtained, such as Certifications, Diplomas, Online Courses, Six Sigma Certification, and any experience related to leading, participating in, or conducting audits.

If you are considering transitioning to a slightly different role or sector, we suggest that you conduct research to explore the array of courses that are suited to your desired field. For example, if you are a candidate that comes from a background in Medical Devices and you are looking to get into pharmaceutical sector, a move that can be quite challenging, a certification/degree/diploma in Biopharmaceutical Studies could be helpful.

If you’re seeking to transition into a Project Management role with mid-level industry experience, the inclusion of a Project Management course in your professional development could notably elevate your profile. While a technical skill set is undoubtedly advantageous, complementing it with a relevant educational background could potentially provide added support.

In conclusion, crafting a compelling CV is a skill that requires attention to detail, transparency, and strategic communication. By incorporating these insights from our resourcing team, you’re positioning yourself as a candidate who is not only skilled but is also considerate of recruiters’ and employers’ perspectives. Remember, a well-crafted CV is your introduction to the professional world, so make it count!

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