How to prepare your CV for a job in industry

So you found a job description that you are interested in and that fits you. Exciting! Your first step then is to apply for the job by sending your CV and motivation letter. It is important to note that both of these should be tailored specifically for each position that you apply for. This may seem like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how often this goes wrong.

How should you do it then? Below are the important points to keep in mind when preparing your CV to apply for a job in industry.

  1. Keep it concise by including only relevant information. You should aim for 1-2 pages (max 3 if you have many years of experience).
  2. Clear language and no abbreviations/specialized terms. This is a general remark, but make sure your CV is written clearly and has no mistakes. Avoid using abbreviations (unless they are widely used) and terms/functions that are specific for your previous work experience.
  3. Personal information. Include a good (professional) picture of you. People are visual and CVs with pictures stand out from the stack. And of course include a list of (relevant) personal details: Name, address, date of birth, cell nr, e-mail, gender.
  4. Profile/Summary – not to be confused with a motivation letter, so aim for 3 sentences.                 1 – Who are you, 2 – what are you looking for, 3 – what you have to offer. To score high with your profile you should go really well through the job description. It goes from what skills they are looking for to which words they use to describe the fitting candidate. Well written profile will help you to emphasize the important points in your CV and pitch yourself. Long profiles are usually not read at all.
  5. Avoid overusing common blown-up words like motivational, enthusiastic, team player, disciplined, good communication skills, independent, etc… Of course you should definitely promote yourself and highlight your strengths but sometimes it seems that the CV was written by some superhuman. If you highlight the whole page, it is a good as not highlighting at all. So think of the features that you would want to stand out and qualities that are required for the job.
  6. Use subheading – it should be possible to scan your CV within half a minute to make a decision on whether it will get more time. So avoid blocks of text and split the content with subheadings to make it easy to read.
  7. Work experience. Put your work experience in inversely chronological order (last first) and use clear time periods (month/year). For each work experience include 2-4 bullet points with key responsibilities/skills. Keep it concise and include less information for work experience which is less relevant for the position that you are applying for. If your previous work experience is in a small (not widely known company) or a specific department, include a description/clarification sentence and/or a URL.
  8. Skills section. Some CVs that I have seen have this section and in some CVs the skills are listed in the work experience. Both approaches work if you use clear headings and the skills are easy to find. Emphasize relevant skills. You can mention the skills that are less relevant, but keep it concise and try to group them. For example, if the position requires experience in analytical chemistry, don’t provide a detailed list of all your microscopy experience in great detail.
  9. Education. Put your education in inversely chronological order (last first) and use clear time periods (month/year).
  10. Courses. It is not necessary to include all of the courses you’ve followed in the graduate school; especially of you have a very long list. Here again, only include the relevant experience.
  11. Publications. Unless it is required, it is not necessary and better not to include publications when applying for a job in industry. In case you have doubts, include your publication list in the attachment or in the very end of your CV.

To wrap up, always keep the target audience in mind when you are putting together your CV. The truth is that they ARE willing to interview/hire you if you are the suitable candidate that they are looking for. So don’t make it difficult for them to see it. Also, check out my other post on the mistakes you should avoid when putting your CV together.

Hope that you found this useful. If you have any questions or comments, make sure to leave a note below in the comments section.

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