When applying for your next pharma job, remember that the way you format your CV is just as important as what’s on there. You could be the strongest candidate on paper, but if a recruiter or hiring manager struggles to read it, your application might not make it through the first round.
In this article, we give advice on how to format your CV for a job in pharma, with information on what to include in each section on your CV, how to present it, and which order to follow…
Make your CV as easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find as possible by using one of the following formats:
Using your full name as well as the job title for the role you’re applying for will help recruiters manage their applications, especially when hiring multiple positions at the same time. Using underscores or hyphens also helps to make the file name easier to read.
Unless you’ve been told otherwise, save your CV either as a Word Document or a PDF file that can be opened on most devices. If unsure about which is best, why not send one of each? Although it might seem like something small, anything you can do to make the recruiter’s life easier is worth it.
Length and Design
Although the length of your CV may depend on how much experience you have and which roles you’re applying for, in general it’s best to keep it no longer than two pages. Remember that your CV isn’t the place to list everything about you and should instead only include the most relevant information for the role you’re applying for. Your goal with your CV is to make recruiters want to find out more about you, and you won’t achieve this if you’ve got a CV that’s 8 pages long.
When it comes to design, keep it simple and easy to read. Do the following to achieve this:
- Use a font that’s easy to read, e.g., Calibri or Arial
- Use clear headers to break down the text on your CV and guide recruiters through each section
- Ensure there’s plenty of white space around text
- Stick to a white background with black text to make your words stand out
The focus of your CV should be on you, and not any unnecessary gimmicks you’ve included. Keeping it simple yet well-formatted is more likely to make a good impression.
Make sure you’re easy to get in touch with by including your contact details at the top of your CV, along with your full name. Always include a phone number and email address, and if you have them, it’s also worth linking to your LinkedIn profile or website/online portfolio. However, only link to these if you actually use them!
Don’t include your full address, especially if you’re sending off your CV speculatively, and instead include your county, country, or the countries you’d be happy relocating to if relevant.
Your personal statement is your chance to stand out as a candidate and to give recruiters and hiring managers an insight into your character. Not many sections on your CV give you this opportunity to get your personality across, so make the most of it by:
- Keeping it short and snappy, no longer than 4 or 5 lines
- Tailoring it towards the role you’re applying for
- Summarising your background, key skills, and any relevant accomplishments
- Including keywords from the job advert/description (but don’t overdo it!)
- Giving insight into what motivates you and why you’re applying for the role
Steer clear of using vague and cliché statements such as “I am a team player” and instead be specific about what you’re capable of achieving, using statistics to add weight to your claims.
The amount of detail you put into this section will depend on your experience. If you already have years of experience behind you, you may only need to include:
- Where you studied
- Name of course
- Year completed
- Key projects and accomplishments if relevant
If you’re a recent graduate with little or no industry experience, you may also want to include:
- Relevant modules completed and results
- Specific projects worked on
- Work placements
- Any published work
Begin with your most recent qualification and continue in reverse chronological order. Remember to keep it relevant – if you’ve got 10+ years of industry experience behind you, you don’t need to list every single GCSE you studied.
In this section, you should also work in reverse chronological order, listing your most recent role. For each entry, include:
- Job title
- Length of employment
- 3 or 4 bullet points outlining your key responsibilities/achievements
- Key tools/software you used to demonstrate technical and job-related skill
When outlining your achievements, use success words to demonstrate your impact. You don’t need to include every single role you’ve ever had. More advice on how much work experience to include on your CV can be found here.
Additional Skills and Accomplishments
As well as listing additional skills – such as proficiency in a particular program - here you can also list things such as languages you speak, licenses you hold, awards you’ve achieved, places where your work has been published, and more. Remember to keep it short and tailored to the role, using keywords from the job advert/description to show recruiters that you’ve done your research.
Remote working has placed a greater emphasis on soft skills too, so remember to include some of the most important ones you have, along with examples and results.
Hobbies and Interests
This section is another opportunity to show your personality to pharma recruiters and hiring managers. Being no more than two or three bullet points, list any other hobbies and interests that help demonstrate who you are outside of work.
Unless you’ve been asked to provide them, you don’t need to put your references on your CV, as these will be asked for later if your application is successful. You also shouldn’t put your referee’s details on every application you send off unless you have their permission. If you do want to showcase some references, why not ask previous colleagues/employers/teachers to give you a testimonial on LinkedIn?
The Way You Format Your CV Says a Lot About You…
Having a well-formatted CV will show pharma recruiters and hiring managers that you have good attention to detail and that you’ve done your research on the role. It’s these small details that could set you apart from another candidate, so taking the extra time to make your CV as clear as possible on why you’re the strongest candidate is always worthwhile.
Visit PharmiWeb.Jobs for more careers advice or to start searching for your next Life Science job.