CV TIPS - how to best sell your skills as a Life Science Contractor

Posted Aug 9, 2021

We caught up with our Managing Director, Kieran Coughlan to get his take on what makes a Life Science contractor CV really stand out!

Having worked both contract and client side as a Senior Automation Engineer, here’s Kieran’s advice on how to best position yourself to win your ideal project as a contractor in the Life Sciences.

Can you outline the difference between a contractor CV & CV for staff role?

Clients have very different mindsets when it comes to reviewing contractor and staff CVs.

For a staff role, clients want to hire someone with not only the potential and ability to fill the current role but also to grow within the organisation. If they are looking for a staff Automation Engineer, yes he/she needs to have the right skills but clients will also be looking for culture fit, capacity to grow and take on more responsibilities within the organisation among lots of other things.

When it comes to hiring a contractor, a client wants someone who can do a specific job today. Technical skills, and the ability to hit the ground running become much more important.

What are the key things clients are looking for when reviewing a contractor CV?

As a contractor it’s important to sell the skills you can bring to support successful project delivery . The processes, equipment, systems & facilities you have worked on previously are critical.

For example – If you have worked in fermentation on Bioreactors you need to state Bioreactors in your CV.
If the client is looking for someone with design and you have worked on the design of that equipment, this needs to be crystal clear.

Avoid repeating the same thing from one role to the next. Identify the differences in responsibilities, skills and delivery from one role to another. Clarity on what you have done needs to visible in your CV.

What makes a contractor CV standout?

A great CV tells your story ! You need to look at your CV as a sales document – too many people see it as a chronological history of what they have done.

The purpose of a CV is to get you the job you want, so it needs to portray your ability in the best possible light.

Look back in your career and pick 5 items you are most proud of, include these as key achievements at the start of your CV – showing where you have delivered real value to your employer or client and the difference your contribution will make to a project.

The first half page of your CV is key, so if for example a client is looking for a Process Engineer who has experience in purification – this information needs to be jumping off the first half page.

Since remote work has become more prevalent, what qualities or skills are clients looking for in a CV?

Self-driven individuals, that can deliver output in a set timeframe at a quality level without supervision.

If you have worked remotely and delivered milestones that needs to be stated in your CV– especially if you are looking for remote work going forward. Show your ability through phrases which demonstrate your accomplishment of successfully delivering under those conditions:

  • Working to deadlines
  • Taking on responsibilities
  • Bringing things in on budget

Is there anything to avoid when preparing a contractor CV?

Be cognisant of your language and avoid using first person phrases like “I did this and I did that”.

In any project, at any given time there are multiple stakeholders with different responsibilities who you’ll need to communicate with to deliver projects successfully.

In your CV put a focus on your contribution to the project, rather than individual tasks.

Remember to keep it concise, easy to read with short quick statements, ensuring the equipment, processes and your key achievements are in there. These are the stories that will be brought up in an interview!


If you’re looking for your next contract in the Life Sciences, send us your CV to find out about project opportunities to best suit your skills and personalised advice on how to optimise your CV!

Upload CV