Crafting a stand-out CV: Tips for landing your dream job in the pharmaceutical industry


The pharmaceutical sector has been in a period of rapid growth and change after the pandemi...

Matt Nicholson

By Matt Nicholson

The pharmaceutical sector has been in a period of rapid growth and change after the pandemic changed how the industry needed to work. Suddenly, the world’s pharmaceutical companies were required to work collaboratively at a scale and pace never seen before.

This has been the catalyst for a range of innovations in the industry recently. Big data and AI drive research and development, while telemedicine and wearable technology open new possibilities within clinical trials. And businesses are turning to their experts to improve their sustainability and ERG policies in the face of wider public and government scrutiny.

Companies are looking to recruit the best talent to their product cycle to drive this change, and the opportunities for suitable candidates are plentiful. The first step is a great CV, but what does that look like, and how can you maximise your chances for an interview for these highly specialised opportunities?


What do Pharmaceutical Companies look for in a CV?

We spoke to Kyle Greenwood, Life Sciences recruitment consultant for NES Fircroft on his tips for creating an attention-grabbing CV:


What’s it like in recruitment in the Life Sciences industry now? Are there particular regions where the industry is particularly active? 

Busy, for sure! Life Sciences is a particularly volatile industry globally as it’s at the forefront of technological development, constantly trying to better the world. 

Whether it be the approach to research with new Devices, Medicines, or Diagnostic instruments, or industrial development, with the implementation of Industry 4.0 Manufacturing techniques and facilities, which is even more complex due to the ever-increasing number of regulations involved, there’s always something new happening in Life Sciences. 

We are seeing considerable, consistent growth in the regions I cover (the UK & Ireland) and the rest of the European teams. Ireland Particularly, since Brexit, has become a hotbed for Life Sciences Manufacturing facilities, expanding from its “traditional” industries (Aerospace, Food & Beverages, Food Production)


What are the opportunities for careers in the life science industry?

Life Sciences is growing and will continue to grow globally. Healthcare is becoming more accessible for all, and a growing, ageing population means more people to take care of! 


What sort of jobs are you currently recruiting for?

I tend to deal with our more niche specialist positions in the region – I love the challenge of a tough-to-fill position, especially when you find the gem you’ve been looking for! 


- Senior Manager, Digital Technology & Innovation 

- Manufacturing Automation Systems Manager 

- Senior EHS Specialist 

- Senior BMS Engineer 

- Senior Project Engineer (HVAC & Utilities) 


Where do you see the industry going in the next couple of years?

The industry will continue to grow and move closer to AI, Robotics & Mechatronics as the 5th wave of the industrial revolution looms. Life Sciences will become more intelligent, more bespoke, safer, and more efficient for the customer. 

In the most recent budget, the UK government pledged to invest £3.5bn in the next ten years in Biotechnological advancements. The UK aims to be at the forefront of innovative science and technology development. Areas of focus include Glasgow, Greater Manchester, and West Midlands.


What advice would you give a candidate looking to enter the industry right now?

Get in, learn, and get paid! In an industry that is continuously growing and becoming more specialised, the number of opportunities available to develop will continue to grow, as well as your salary! Alongside this, it does make it easier to sleep at night knowing that you’re contributing to the accessibility, innovation, and development of life-changing (and life-saving) technology, products & services. 


What tips would you give a candidate on their CV? 

- Keep it concise, three pages maximum.

- Make sure to include the right technical keywords

- Keep it factual throughout 

- Tailor your CV to each application – quality over quantity! 


Key components of a successful CV for the Life Science industry

When crafting your CV, there are several key components that you should include. These include your personal information, education, work experience, skills, and achievements.

Personal Information

Your personal information should include your full name, address, phone number, and email address. Consider adding your LinkedIn profile, too, if it shows your networking skills and connections, published content, or courses you’ve taken on the platform.


Your education section should include your study qualifications, starting with the most recent.

Work Experience

Your work experience section should include your job title, company name, dates of employment, and a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements in each position. Use the employer’s job description as a guide, and tailor your description to match the essential and desirable skills and knowledge of the job. Be sure to focus on achievements, for example, where your work contributed to a study completed under budget, on time, or with better results than expected.


Your skills section should include any relevant skills that you possess, such as laboratory skills, computer skills, or language proficiency. Be honest about your skills and provide examples of how you have demonstrated them. ‘Soft’ skills such as communication, teamwork, and flexibility have become more important to employers since the pandemic, so look for opportunities to showcase these skills as well.


Your achievements section should highlight any awards, publications, or presentations that you have received or given. Showcase your accomplishments and demonstrate how you have contributed to the field.


Tailoring your CV to the Life Science industry

A CV should never be generic. While crafting a CV specifically for a role can take longer, it matches your CV more closely to the job description, increasing your chances of landing an interview. This means highlighting your experience and education in the field and showcasing any specialised skills or certifications you possess.

The most important way to do this is to include relevant keywords and phrases throughout your CV. This will help your CV be picked up by applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have the necessary qualifications for the job. Include any placements, work experience programmes or volunteer projects you’ve worked on in the industry. This experience is valuable to a potential employer and will help you stand out.

For example, if you have experience working in a laboratory, highlight this experience and provide specific examples of the skills and techniques you have developed. If you have a degree in a life science field, showcase your coursework and any research projects you have completed.

It’s a good idea to start with a single master document detailing your skills and experience, so you don’t miss valuable information. This will also make creating a tailored CV much quicker. But never send this document to employers; always use it as a foundation for a bespoke CV for each role.


Formatting and organising your CV

ATS systems, as mentioned previously, will scan a CV for relevant keywords. If a CV is poorly formatted or in a file type that is difficult to read, the system will reject the CV – and you will lose your opportunity to progress before a recruiter has even seen your skills and experience. Use a clear font like Arial, ensure your formatting and headers are consistent, and your CV is saved in a compatible format for the job.

Keep your CV concise and to the point. Avoid using filler words or unnecessary information. Use action verbs to describe your responsibilities and achievements, and quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. Keep your CV to two pages maximum – hopefully, you’ll get an interview, and this is where you’ll have the opportunity to elaborate. 


Common mistakes to avoid when crafting your CV

There are several common mistakes that candidates make when crafting their CVs. These include:

  • Spelling and grammatical errors
  • Including irrelevant information
  • Focusing too much on responsibilities and not enough on achievements
  • Using a generic CV for every job application
  • Using a difficult-to-read font or format

To avoid these mistakes, proofread your CV several times and ask a friend or colleague to review it. There are also online services that can help you write a great CV and provide proofing services.


Resources for improving your CV writing skills

If you are struggling with crafting a successful CV, several resources are available to help you. These include:

  • Online templates and examples
  • Workshops or courses on CV writing
  • Career counselling services
  • Professional CV writers

Using these resources can help you to improve your CV writing skills and to create a stand-out CV that will impress potential employers.


How NES Fircroft can support your Life Sciences job search

Crafting a stand-out CV is crucial to securing an interview. By highlighting your relevant experience and education, tailoring your CV to the life science industry, and formatting it in a clean and easy-to-read manner, you can impress potential employers and stand out from the competition.

Avoid common mistakes, use resources to improve your CV writing skills, and tailor your application to each job. With these tips and guidelines, you can create a successful job application that will help you land your dream pharmaceutical job.

NES Fircroft has supported the Life Science market for over 20 years, sourcing personnel for engineering, scientific and commercial roles.

We can provide permanent and contract candidates to the Life Science industry across the Quality, Clinical, Regulatory/Compliance, and Engineering disciplines.

Are you looking to take your Life Sciences career to the next level? Browse our Life Science vacancies today.