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5 Tips for Building a Winning CV

​Despite claims of impending extinction, CVs are very much alive and kicking. In the UK, a single position draws in an average of 250 CVs – how can you ensure that yours stands out to employers for the right reasons?  

To prevent your CV from fading into the background like a magazine on a waiting room table, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite résumé revitalisation tips below. 

1. Tailor Your CV to the Position 

The scattergun approach will likely backfire, particularly when you’re CV comes against some bespoke competition. Tailoring your CV to be relevant to the role requirements is vital when you consider how long an employer looks at a CV on average (it’s between 5-7 seconds according to Indeed). 

You can do this by focusing on keywords related to the job description and using them to customise your work experience. It’s not just role responsibilities you need to consider either – what works for Bioprocessing jobs in the pharma industry will differ from the same role in FoodTech.  

Tailoring your CV does take more time, effort, and research, but it’s a way to instantaneously level up your chances of landing the interview.  

2. Keep it Concise 

Reams of information will distract the reader from your merits. Keeping it concise by aiming for a two-page maximum will help you illuminate the most relevant points. 

This can become a challenge for candidates with a wealth of experience, in which case it’s best to stick within a 10-year time frame and avoid repetition. For example, if you’re repeating the same responsibilities across multiple roles, you’re taking up valuable space.  

Reading your CV out loud can help you pick up on repetition, and it’s a good way to spellcheck your writing (perfect grammar and spelling are the minimum).  

3. Save Your CV as a PDF  

A simple yet effective one – saving your CV as a PDF can help you avoid any formatting issues. Some Word documents habit of getting reformatted when they open, compromising your beautiful tailor-made CV before the employer has a chance to read it.  

Plus, if the employer is using AI to scan your CV for pre-screening, a PDF is easily readable. That said, make sure to stick to the criteria, the job posting may require a Word document or a bespoke online form.  

4. Include Soft Skills and Achievements Outside of Work 

Many life sciences jobs sit at the leading edge of discovery, making it difficult for employers to secure relevant talent, especially during a candidate-short market. Hiring managers are increasingly turning towards transferrable skills to plug this gap, and soft skills are a superb way of showcasing them.  

Anything that illuminates your creative and critical thinking skills shines out on a CV, as does relationship building, resilience, adaptability, conflict resolution, autonomy, initiative, and leadership.  

5. Leverage Data 

Data can substantiate your claims to great effect. Did you drive growth in company revenue last year? Don’t be afraid to say how much that growth was.  

Similarly, include stats on the scope of your projects, it helps contextualise the impact of your work for prospective employers.  

What to Avoid  

In case you need some more space or you’re struggling to customise your CV efficiently, it’s worth knowing what to avoid too: 

  • Don’t add any information you wouldn’t want against your name, including references and certain forms of contact info.  

  • Don’t use more than one font and three sizes, as this will confuse the design and it might dilute your message.  

  • Don’t dedicate too much space to general skills like MS Office (unless that’s a key requirement), focus instead on the hard skills that the job description is looking for.  

  • Don’t list what your team did. Emphasize yourself and what you achieved as part of that team.  

Support from BioTalent 

As specialist recruiters, we’ve seen more than our fair share of CVs over the years, and we know what to watch out for. If you need any CV support from our consultants, please get in touch via our website, we’re happy to help.  

Alternatively, you can contact me directly on LinkedIn, I’m here to connect candidates with opportunities they can thrive in, and CV support often plays a critical role in that process.