Top tips for technical CVs

photo_61056_20160126If you study a STEM subject, you may be expected to include more technical information in your CV when applying for work experience, internships, placements and graduate jobs. The trick is to create a CV that introduces a rounded, human candidate who has the relevant technical expertise, rather than one that presents list of technical skills but not a person! Here are some tips:

  • Consider a profile at the top of your CV: this can be a short paragraph or a few bullet points which clearly and succinctly state your key skills and experience and, most importantly, your career ambitions. Naturally these should relate to the position you’re applying for!
  • Bear in mind that the first person who reads your CV will probably not be an expert in your field. They will understand that you need to use technical language, but at the same time, they need to be able to understand enough of your CV to see that you’re filling the criteria for the position. So, make sure that you’re using the same kind of terminology/buzzwords as are being used in the job specification and also be sure to include some evidence of broader, transferable skills (such as teamwork, leadership and communication), especially if these have been asked for.

  • The education section of your CV is of course important: include your GCSE and A-level results, but you don’t need to list each subject individually. For your degree, it’s important to list modules which are relevant to the position, your predicted or actual overall grade, and of course any awards or other academic achievements. Keep it in reverse chronological order – the same goes for your work experience.
  • Try to make your CV stand out from the dozens of others that the recruiters will have to sift through. This doesn’t mean you have to make it overly personal, but if you can find some interesting or unusual examples of how you have deployed technical or other required skills then this will definitely help. Always try to pin your skills to specific, clearly comprehensible examples (be this lab or IT work, a project, work or extracurricular experience).

Reviewing Curricula - Job Applicants Under Scrutiny - With Copys

  • Don’t forget to tailor your CV (and cover letter too!) to the particular position you’re applying for. Recruiters don’t like to see ‘template’ applications with a generic list of skills, which either aren’t targeted specifically to their requirements, or are only partly what they’re looking for. Tailoring makes the application process more time-consuming, but quality is always preferable to quantity.
  • Organisation is key when it comes to a technical CV. In particular, you have to demonstrate your technical abilities in as clear a way as possible. This is difficult when you may have gained skills from a variety of experiences (education and work experience, for example). Therefore it might be worth having a separate section in your CV to set out these skills, but only if you can relate them to specific examples that aren’t repeated elsewhere.
  • Don’t neglect to mention non-technical experience! Most employers look favourably on achievements and experiences outside of the industry you want to go into. For one, it makes you a more ‘rounded’ candidate, and can be crucial if you don’t have much industry experience but can show how you’ve developed transferable skills in other roles. Examples include part-time, summer or voluntary work, sporting achievements and roles in university societies. There’s no need to go into too much detail though: just summarize your responsibilities and the skills you gained from them.

If you’d like more advice with your CV you can book an appointment with one of our Application Advisors. Good luck with your application!

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