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Recognising your skills & writing an effective CV Sarah Blackford Academic & science career specialist

Post on 11-Aug-2014




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Updated (12 April 2014) with extra information on what to include in your CV.


  • Recognising your skills & writing an effective CV Sarah Blackford Academic & science career specialist
  • Recognising your skills & writing an effective CV Note to Slideshare viewers: Make sure to refer to my blog for examples of CVs and covering letters +++
  • What do employers want?
  • Specific Research Knowledge & Skills Academic Research (universities, research institutes, government) Research in Industry/Business (technology, bioindustry, policy think tanks, media) Scientific services (clinical sciences, specialist industries) Associated commercial careers (technology transfer, patent agent, data management, regulatory affairs, marketing) Communication (publishing editorial, commissioning, production - press officer, outreach, medical writer) Teaching (university, schools) Administrative/Development work Self Employment/Consultancy work Something completely different ....Finance, project mgt ? Non-Academic Knowledge & Skills
  • SKILLS Technical Skills Communication Analytical/Research Willingness to learn Problem solving Flexibility Specific knowledge Project management Teamwork Organisational Interpersonal Leadership
  • What do you have to offer?
  • What have you gained from your research experience? Specific research knowledge Research/Technical skills and techniques Teaching/supervising ? Funding and independent activities ? Communication skills: presenting, writing, negotiating, building relationships Management skills: managing time, projects, resources, people Problem-solving skills: designing, conducting experiments, troubleshooting Research skills: critical analysis of literature, data, conceptual thinking Fund-raising: seeking and preparing funding applications Self-motivation: self-starter, able to keep going under pressure Multi-tasking: able to organise your research, teaching, administration Networking: collaboration with other groups (within and outside of your discipline/department), industry, conferencing, organising seminars
  • How do you sell yourself effectively to employers?
  • Your CV Is NOT your biography It is your personal prospectus The Perfect CV will not get you the job It will - Help you to get an Interview
  • Marketing Yourself on Paper Successful CVs: Identify and Address the EMPLOYERS Needs Give Evidence of RELEVANT Skills and Qualities Present a Professional Cohesive Image Convey Enthusiasm and Commitment Dont Undersell
  • The Perfect CV Key Elements Concise Communication Clearly Demonstrates Ability to Produce Results For Your Potential Employer Motivated to Meet You
  • How Long Will an Employer Spend Reading Your CV? 20-30 Seconds
  • What do employers want from applicants? Targeted Applications: Awareness of Skills Required - Matched to your Evidence of Skills you Possess Explain your Interest and Motivation Fully and Correctly Completed Applications Evidence which Sets you Above the Average
  • Marketing yourself in a CV Successful Applications: Identify and address the EMPLOYERS needs Give evidence of RELEVANT skills and qualities Present a professional cohesive image Convey enthusiasm and commitment
  • CV Action Verbs Describe what you have DONE Achieved Assessed Completed Created Coordinated Demonstrated Developed Elected Expressed Initiated Investigated Led Organised Prepared Produced Selected Supervised Tested AGCAS 2009
  • Preparing An Effective CV It Should: Be Clear and Concise Set Out Why You Think You are the Right Person for the Job Show What You can Offer the Employer Basic Rules It Must Look Good Allocate Space Strictly in Relation to the Importance of the Information Be Easy to Read and Follow Always Send a Covering Letter
  • Preparing An Effective CV How long does it take to prepare?
  • Preparing a CV Put Strongest Statement at the Top Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Short Use Indented and Bulleted Statements Use Simple Terms Use Quantities and Amounts
  • Preparing a CV Avoid/ Leave Out Jargon Self-Serving Evaluations Hobbies Unless they Contribute to Job Target I
  • What should you include in your CV Personal Details (including social media/website) ?Career Goal/Key capabilities Education Work History Skills and competencies ?Publications, Conferences, Professional Memberships, Interests Referees
  • Personal details Your name - the title of your CV Contact information (address, phone, email) Photo? Only mandatory in some countries Social media extends your profile (e.g. Researchgate for academic jobs; LinkedIn for business/industry jobs; Twitter for communication jobs)
  • Career goal/capabilities Optional. Advise to use as follows: 1) If you can satisfy the vast majority of the job requirements, and more and you want to make sure you write this prominently on your CV so it can be seen easily. 2) If you are not sending a CV, e.g. when attending a careers fair.
  • Education Place this Section first if you are a PhD student. Include your current PhD details - write the title of your thesis, supervisor and description of your project for an academic CV; for other posts make the information more general). Then place information about your masters degree and undergraduate degree after this. You can include other training in this section if it is relevant to the post.
  • Work History Place this Section first if you are a postdoctoral/early career researcher/fellow. Include your current post with details of your project aims and description for academic posts. Add in previous research posts in reverse chronological order including internships. Depending on the seniority of an academic post, you may need to add in considerable detail. For non academic posts this section can be shorter and less detailed.
  • Skills & Competencies For most jobs this will be the most important section of your CV as it demonstrates your skills and personal attributes. Include 3 4 subtitles according to the skills specified in the job description: Eg. Research & Technical; Communication; Teaching & Public Engagement Teamworking & collaboration; Project management; Organisational & Planning. Provide evidence of these skills taken from your experiences (work, education, personal).
  • Publications & Conferences Cite your publications in the body of your CV if you only have one or two. If you have a long list (lucky you ) you can add an appendix and refer to them on page 1 of your CV (eg See Appendix on page 3 for list of publications and conference presentations). This will keep the main part of your CV at 2 pages in length. For non-academic non-research jobs you may need to exclude your publications and simply refer to the fact that you have published papers from your researcher work, showing evidence of your output and success.
  • Awards, membership, Interests Depends on the job: you need to decide whether and how to display these in your CV. Eg they could be evidence of positions of responsibility, achievement, motivation, desire for success, working towards a goal. As a rule, only include interests if they add to your personal profile and show evidence of skills such as teamworking, leadership, achievement. Can depend on the country:
  • Referees Try to choose referees who will give different perspectives of you. If youre able, tell your referees what you are applying for and even remind them in the type of key experiences and skills you have. You can choose to say Referees available on request especially if sending your CV to a recruitment company. It means your referees wont receive too many requests during your job-seeking ventures. Sometimes you can include a letter of recommendation with your CV
  • Top 10 CV Mistakes 1. Too Long 2. Disorganised 3. Untargeted/generic 4. Misspellings, Typing Errors, Poor Grammar 5. Too Many Irrelevancies 6. Too Sparse Gaps? 7. Misdirected 8. Not Oriented for Results 9. Tries Too Hard 10. Overwritten
  • CHRONOLOGICAL CVs Types of CV Format A Good Starting Point for your Basic CV List Your Work Experience and Education by Reverse Date Communicates that you are Experienced and Established in One Career Area
  • TARGETED CVs Organises Information According to the Knowledge and Experience needed for The Job Focuses on a Clear, Specific Job Target: E.g. ACADEMIC CV Lists Appropriate Capabilities and Supporting Accomplishments
  • SKILLS CVs Organises Information According to the Skills required for the Job Skills can be Transferred from one career to another new one Use when you have little or no experience of this career area
  • Covering Letters
  • Covering letters should include: What you are applying for and where you saw the advert Why you are applying refer to research group/company Highlight your Key Points Matching Skills and Experience Confident Conclusion Availability for Interview
  • This is where you should Write your address and Date Employers name and Address here written out As it appears in the Advert Job Title Dear Sir/Madam (or their name as it appears in the ad), I am applying for the post of XXXX which I saw advertised in the Journal/Newspaper/website on (date). Explain what you are doing now (e.g establish yourself as a postgraduate/postdoctoral) keen to develop a career in XXXX. Use this paragraph to explain why you are interested in the job and the key skills or experience that you have which make you suitable. Dont be modest!! Match up the most important skills wanted in the advert to those that you have. The 3rd paragraph is to explain your suitability and to say why you are interested in this company, course, job etc. So find out about them but use your own words. Finish on a positive note e.g. I hope you will consider me for this post and I look forward to hearing from you. Yours faithfully/ Yours sincerely, Signature Name
  • Dear Professor Lake, I am a post-doctoral researcher currently working in Professor Beans research group at the University of Montpellier. I am very interested in the research you are conducting, in particular your recently published work on day/night temperatures affecting fish circadian clocks temperature. My work is based around the temperature compensation of the Arabidopsis circadian clock in which we have found that it is a useful probe for the circadian clock. My contract will be finishing in 6 months time and I am keen to pursue my interest in circadian rhythms but within animal systems. I am using similar molecular and biochemical techniques as you use in your lab and I have a thorough background knowledge of circadian clocks and related biochemical processes. If you are planning to take on any new researchers this year I would be very interested in being considered for a post with you to continue my research interests but in a different model system. Please find my CV attached where you will see I have published consistently during my postdoctoral research following completion of my PhD in 2005. I have presented my work at international conferences and have also had some teaching experience. I look forward to hearing from you. Tim Webster
  • SUMMARY Applying for jobs is a MATCHING process You need to know the JOB LANDSCAPE Find out about EMPLOYERS who are they, what are they offering? Be aware of YOU who are you, what do you have to offer? You have to SELL yourself to the employer Your CV is a DYNAMIC document that needs to be targeted to every application. The aim of your CV is to get you to INTERVIEW
  • ACTION PLANNING Prepare and plan ahead Review the job market Use job sites, social media, networking Keep your CV up to date Use it as a record and basic document and adapt it to different jobs Try to fill any skill gaps you have identified For more information go to:
  • Dozens of Bioscience societies Europe/USA Reduced registration to conferences Travel grants Lab visits Specialised workshops Newsletters Mentoring Networking with members Learned societies
  • Recognising your skills & writing an effective CV Sarah Blackford Academic & science career specialist