When you’re striving to achieve your career ambitions, the most essential tool in your arsenal is a strong curriculum vitae – also known as a CV or résumé. No matter what field you’re looking for a job in, be it science, engineering, technology, or any other, having good quality CV content is key.

"Employers / recruiters often review hundreds of CVs per day, and your suitability could be determined in the first 30 seconds."

For this reason, you need to make sure that your CV content stands out, all whilst providing the most relevant information in a clear and concise manner. Investing time in your CV will save the reviewer time and maximise your chances of success.

CV & Cover Letter Checklist >


CV Length

Permanent: 2 - 3 pages
We recommend a length of 2 pages, but for those who have worked for a number of companies / projects this may go on to a third page.
Contract: 3 - 4 pages
Again, you want to aim to be in the 2-3 page range, but for those who have worked on multiple short-term projects / assignments this may need to go to 4 pages.
When you apply for a job through HRS, one of our professional recruitment consultants will be by your side every step of the way, and will help you achieve the perfect length for your CV.

Common CV Mistakes

These are some of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to writing a CV:
  • Too Long

  • Misspellings and typos

  • Irrelevant Information

  • Falsified Information

  • Wrong Contact Details

  • Too vague

Tips for Writing a Scientific CV

Here at HRS, we specialise in recruitment for the Life Science industry. If you’re currently aiming for a career in a science-related industry and are looking for tips on writing a successful CV, consider the following:
  • The Basics

    Be sure to include all essential details including your full name, your current address, and your contact details.
  • Areas of Expertise

    Add a section to your CV entitled ‘Areas of Expertise’ that comprises of a short bullet-point list (5-6 items) of the key skills that make you a great candidate. Examples include:
    • Data analysis
    • Team management
    • Report writing
  • Work Experience

    Outline details of your previous roles, what it required of you, and how (if applicable) the experience was relevant to the job you’re currently applying for. You may also wish to include a bullet point of the duties involved.
  • Education

    Describe your course and the relevant skills you learned/knowledge you gained.
  • Interests

    Include some information about what you get up to in your free time, but remember that the employer isn’t interested in your life story! Ideally, your hobbies and interests will complement the professional self-portrait you’ve been painting (without coming off as a work-obsessed robot).
  • References

    It’s typically fine to save space by writing ‘reference available upon request’, but be sure to check the details of each job you apply for – some may specifically state that references are required.

CV Advice for Graduates

If you’ve recently graduated from university and are searching for your dream job, having the right degree, skills, and work experience can all count for nought if you don’t have a decent CV! A good CV needs to make a lasting impression on the person reading it – as mentioned above, a potential employer can spend as little 30 seconds looking over your CV, so it’s important to get your CV just right.

Top tips to consider when writing your CV after university:
  • Include all essential details

    It’s easy to get so caught up in formatting that you forget to cover the basics! Ensure you’ve included your full name, correct contact details, and all relevant skills and past experiences.
  • Use a professional e-mail address

    According to a study cited by the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service, 76% of CVs with unprofessional email addresses are ignored. If you don’t have a professional e-mail address, now is the time to make one!
  • Don’t exaggerate your qualities or accomplishments

    While it’s important to stand out, making any kind of outlandish claims will quickly come back to bite you when you’re asked about them at interview! Don’t be afraid to brag, but always be honest.
  • Double and triple check spelling and grammar

    Graduates are twice as likely to make spelling or grammatical errors on their CVs as non-graduates. While spelling mistakes may be small, they can also make all the difference in being asked to interview and not.
  • Have multiple versions of your CV

    CVs should always be tailored for the position you’re applying for. Try to incorporate the wording of the job listing and ensure that your CV clearly displays why you’re a good fit for the position.
  • Don’t use more than 3 sides

    Employers often have hundreds of CVs to sift though, and are unlikely to be interested in reading beyond this length.
  • Get someone else to look at it

    Getting a fresh pair of eyes to look over your CV can make all the difference. When you’ve been looking at one document for a long period of time, it can make it that much harder to notice pretty obvious mistakes, which is where a second (or even a third) opinion can be extra valuable.

CV Content

Contact Details
Ensure that your contact details are in a place where they can be easily found. We’d recommend putting your contact details at the top of the first page of your CV, and the details required are:
Full Name (do include any relevant accreditations i.e. MRSC)
Home Address
Contact Telephone Number (mobile, home & work)
Email Address (personal and work)
LinkedIn Profile ID (if applicable)
HRS Tip Double and triple check these are correct to ensure that you are contactable.
Personal Statement / Profile
This is not an essential requirement, but it certainly can help to tailor your experience and expectations to the company/job you are applying to. This requires 2-4 sentences maximum, located just underneath your contact details, and can help to show the reviewer you have taken the time to recognise their requirements and to engage their interest in you.
HRS Tip A Personal Statement - although very powerful - can cause complications if you are applying to multiple positions and forget to change this on a job-by-job basis. Make sure you check this is relevant to the exact position and its requirements before applying.
Education / History
Based upon your experience to date, your education history and qualifications can be ordered before or after one another, i.e. If you are a graduate your unique selling point (USP) may be your academic achievements, but if you are an industry expert, your USP may be your experience. If in doubt, this can be discussed with any HRS consultant.
Educational / Professional Qualifications
Make sure you position your highest level of qualification first and work backwards from there. List each of your accreditations and make sure you specify where and when you did them.
Work History / Expertise
Make sure you position your most recent/current role first. Under each of your positions ensure you specify what you did, who you worked for, and when this was. If you work in a specialised field, the recommendation is to specify each niche skill set/expertise under each of your positions. Again, list the most relevant one’s in comparison to the job/company you are applying to.
HRS Tip Where possible list certain expertise/academics in bullet point form. The easier they are to identify, the easier it will be for the reviewer to determine your suitability to the role.
Hobbies & Interests
Although these are not necessarily going to get you the job, they will certainly help to add more of your personality to your CV. List the key ones without putting too much focus/using up valuable space. Although we want the client to get to know you, the priority is you are there to do the job first.
HRS Tip Know your audience. If you know the company you are applying to have similar values and interests to you. Try and show this in this section if applicable.
Publications (if applicable)
These can be very relevant to the role you are applying to but can really pack out and elongate your CV. Our advice would be to provide these to your HRS consultant to be held on your record and then state ‘available upon request’ on your CV.
HRS Tip If you have a list of publications put the two most relevant to the job under this heading and then state how many more are available upon request.
References / Contact Referee
It is common practice to provide two professional references when applying to a new job. This is likely to be your current employer and either a previous employer or an academic reference. Our advice would be to provide these to your HRS consultant who will store them on your records and state ‘References are available upon request’. That way HRS can help.

Additional CV Tips

If you have had tangible achievements in your career it is great to showcase them on your CV. You don’t want this to be a self appreciation section but if under each of your positions you can show success above and beyond doing what you were asked to do this, it can really help you to stand out from other prospective candidates.
Imagine looking at two like for like CVs from jobseekers that have the same experience. You can only choose one of them and the only difference is that one of them shows a list of achievements and the other does not. Sometimes just these subtle ways of differentiating your CV can help make the difference.
HRS Tip If you have multiple achievements make sure the first one you list is going to be most relevant to the job you are applying too.
Covering Letters
This is really down to the individual application. Some clients do not require a covering letter and some like to see one with every application. If in doubt consult with your HRS Consultant.

Covering letters are a targeted introduction of your entire profile to the prospective client / recruiter. They take in to consideration the demands and expectations of the exact job you are applying too. They are an extension of the Personal Statement which you may have included at the top of your CV.
The important thing to consider when writing a covering letter is to make sure it explains where you have the skills required in the job description’s requirement section. Make sure you read this first so that you can ‘tailor’ and sell your expertise within the parameters of the client’s needs.
HRS Tip Do not exceed one page of A4. This is supposed to be a snapshot of your relevant experience and if goes on for too long you may lose your client’s interest quickly.
What not to include in your CV
Avoid including the following on your CV:
  • Irrelevant personal information e.g., photographs, marital status, personal social media accounts, unrelated hobbies.
  • Misleading or exaggerated information regarding achievements, qualifications, salaries, job titles.
  • Salary
  • Reason for leaving previous position
HRS Tip if your are unsure whether to include these topics on your CV just pick up the phone and speak to any HRS Consultant who will gladly pass on their thoughts.
Gaps on your CV
If you do have extended periods of time between roles in your CV it is best not to try and hide these, and where applicable explain the reasons as to why. This should be discussed with your HRS consultant who can provide you with advice before submitting your application.
HRS Tip Having gaps in your CV is not something to be concerned with. Sometimes it is this time where you developed skills above and beyond the work place which can add value to a new employer.
Proof Reading
Make sure you run a spell check on your full CV and ensure you have read it at least twice before applying to a job. Unfortunately any errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar can raise doubts over your attention to detail.
It is also vital you make sure you have not repeated any particular parts of your CV too many times. The last impression you want to give to anyone is that you are trying to pack out your CV or have not proof read it.
HRS Tip Ask a friend or family member to review your CV as if they are the client you are applying to. That way they can challenge you on any parts of your CV and provide honest feedback. Any consultant at HRS would also be happy to assist with this.
How to make your CV stand out
  • Mirror the language used in the job posting

  • Avoid clichéd terms

  • Adapt your CV to each position

  • Don’t be afraid to brag!

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