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Creating the perfect CV for Science Graduates

by CV Knowhow

One of the most exciting times in your scientific career is graduating from university after completing your degree and taking your first steps into the world of work. After 3 or 4 years of hard work, studying and probably a lot of partying, you’ve now reached the next step of your career. And it’s exciting, right? However, it is also very daunting; with so many science graduates out there how do you maximise your chances of success?

It all starts with your CV. After all, how can you tell potential employers how wonderful you are and how passionate you are about working in a challenging scientific role; whether it be as a researcher, chemical engineer, teacher or laboratory technician?

Most graduates will have put together a CV of sorts whilst studying, generally though, they don’t provide enough of an insight into your experience and knowledge, so it is best to start from scratch. Unlike those candidates that have 10 years plus of hands on work experience, for graduates your main selling point is your academic credentials. Therefore, it’s important to really highlight what you have learnt and achieved during your studies within your CV.

So what should you include in your science graduate CV?

It’s important to capitalise on your strengths in your CV. Whether it be your exceptional performance during your degree, an exciting internship that you undertook within a leading organisation, your voluntary experience providing science tuition to under-privileged children or your technical skills.

Often one of the hardest things is to understand your own strengths, as most people associate strengths with practical work experience. However, when you don’t have hands on experience in a traditional work environment, you have to think about the other things that make you stand out. For example, were you a great team leader during an important project? Were you the go-to person in the group with any laboratory equipment issues? Did you win any awards for your academic performance?

It’s important to really showcase what you can offer a potential employer beyond just your excellent degree. What makes you stand out above the other 200 applicants with the same degree result?

How to write the CV

The order of your scientific graduate CV is very important and should not be taken lightly. As with all CVs, it begins with your Personal Profile. This is your ‘sales pitch’. What can you bring to the table? Are you analytical, great at solving problems, bi-lingual, technically proficient? What are your passions? Science is a huge field so it’s important to showcase your passion for a particular field, i.e. research within pharmaceuticals. What soft skills do you have, i.e. are you a great team player, able to build great relationships with people at all different levels, or are you great at managing your time?

After the personal profile, you need to talk about your education as this will be your main selling point. In a science graduate CV, writing just one line for your education isn’t enough. Include your degree, university name, dates and grade (if 2:1 or above). Additionally, include your core models, project / dissertation information, details of placements or internships and any awards that you were nominated for or won.

The next section is for your areas of expertise, where you can include a list of all your relevant skills. Make sure that the majority of these skills are relevant to the type of job you are applying for and then include 4-5 soft skills, i.e. time management, team working, etc.

Following the areas of expertise section, you need to add any work experience that you have, whether it be a part time job in a local café or helping your family business. This section also includes voluntary experience so have a think about everything you have done that has helped you to build your skills. The key here is to think about transferable skills and not to focus so much on the job, so even though you may not be looking for a job in a café, think about all of the skills you will have gained during that period.

After your work experience, you need to talk about any technical skills that you will have gained throughout your studies. This could be anything from MS Office suite to laboratory equipment to specific scientific tools and techniques. It’s important to show a potential employer that you are able to use a range of scientific tools and programmes so this section is very important.

Finally you would include an additional information section which would include things like languages, interests and any memberships of societies and clubs.

In terms of the length of your CV, this very much depends on how much experience you have beyond your academic career so generally a science graduate CV would be between 1 and 2 pages. The key thing to remember is to capture the potential employers’ attention by making sure that the information in your CV is relevant and engaging.

Remember, your CV is the key to opening doors for your next career step so it’s important to put the time into creating an outstanding document. Think about what makes you different and what you can offer to a potential employer. Good luck!

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