Tips from Anthony Monteza Cabrejos (Tony). Edited: By Maanasa Ravikumar
Tony is currently a PhD student at Imperial College London. Prior to starting his doctoral journey, he worked as a research officer at University College London (UCL) and then went on to join a recruitment firm called Hays. His unique experience as a scientist-cum-recruiter has given him valuable insights into what industrial employers look for from applicants in the life sciences. Here, he is happy to share his top five tips for a strong, compelling CV if you are looking to find a job outside of academia:
- Prepare a functional CV, not a chronological one.
Most of the time, employers are less interested in knowing which labs you have worked in and for how long a time. Rather, they are keen to learn about things you have done and skills you have picked up at each stage of your professional journey. While an academic CV focuses on chronological progression of education achievements, work experience, publication record and conference attendance history, a functional CV is tailored to highlight your skill-set and capabilities. List what you can do rather than the order in which you have done things. In this way, you are able to highlight your strengths and help the employer understand what you can bring to the table.
- Include a short summary of who you are.
*Include one abstract with bullet points.
On average, employers filter through hundreds of CVs for a single position and a major challenge is to make your CV stand out at first glance. Include a short abstract or blurb with no more than eight bullet points to summarise your capabilities (similar to the LinkedIn summary section). The idea is to highlight your strengths and achievements succinctly, in a manner that urges them to read through the rest of your CV.
- Everybody loves a problem-solver.
Together with highlighting your strengths, it is also important to feature tough situations that you have overcome. In doing so, you show the employer that you are resilient when things get sticky and persevere to reach the other side. Include an example of a problem you have solved during your time in the lab—for example, did you help your lab save money? did you pioneer a new technique that was previously unsuccessful? Did you use a new piece of equipment that nobody else had experience with? Did you help train other colleagues?
- Use simple language—no jargon, please!
Use words that anyone can understand and relate to, including HR. If you are applying to a medium-big company, the HR department will most likely filter your application. HR personnel might have a background in science, but not enough to know very specific terms and details. If you are applying to a specific job post, include the words used in the post and avoid using synonyms. This helps tailor your CV to the employer’s requirements and keeps focus on what they are looking for.
- Thinking and doing outside the box.
Every employer looks for an agile team player who can fit their company’s culture. In this regard, it is always important to underscore your soft skills together with technical skills. Include extracurricular achievements, volunteering experiences and additional courses you’ve taken. These are essential components to your personality that show your motivation, ability to think outside of the lab space and integrity in working with others. One cannot stress enough how this will boost your CV—more on this tip next time!
You can reach out to Anthony Monteza Cabrejos via LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-monteza-cabrejos-a4a7a2a4/via LinkedIn.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of ImagenScience.