There are many variables when it comes to the exact skill set that is required to fill any given vacancy, but there are certain desirable skills that are almost universally in demand by employers in the life sciences industry. Employers and recruiters have lots of applications for each position, so rarely spend more than a few seconds on each CV during initial selection. Most of this time is spent looking for specific skills and information in your employment history and education. Here we tell you what they are looking for so you can be sure to include it in your CV.
1. Experience working in a similar role
Naturally, most life sciences companies will prefer a candidate who can hit the ground running, with minimum fuss or training. The more closely that your previous role matches the current vacancy, the easier employers will expect it to be for you, and for them, when you move. Assuming that you are not looking for a sideways career move, and that the positions you are applying for are above your current career level, highlight on your CV the achievements and duties that are most closely related to the role that you are targeting, as well as your transferable skills.
2. Length of time in the same role
Recruiters often view the length of time with your current employer as an indication of whether you may be ready to move on, with two or more years considered an optimum time for them to approach you. Unless you are a contractor, employers will not want to take a risk on someone who has a history of spending only a short time with a companies before leaving. Jumping from job to job in this way raises questions about your level of commitment or ability to perform the role for which you were hired. Unless you can show a period of stability in your career history, consider staying in your current role for a little longer to open up greater opportunities for yourself in the long run.
3. Qualifications in relevant scientific disciplines
Within the life sciences industry, candidates are usually expected to be educated to degree level, although MSc or even PhD level could be required, depending on the position. List your qualifications, starting with the highest attained or most recent. They might also look for qualifications that are relevant to the position such as Good Clinical Practice (GCP) or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
4. Languages you speak
Most life sciences companies and recruiters will scan CVs for language skills. The industry is global and most of the world's largest pharmaceutical and medical devices companies have offices on several continents, so fluency in another language can be a distinct advantage. If this is part of your skill set make sure it’s clear on your CV. Your current location, desire to relocate, and other countries you have worked in should also be included.
5. Therapeutic areas and phases of study you have worked in
Life sciences companies are interested in your level of experience working on specific therapeutic areas, such as oncology, neurology, immunology, etc. In medical affairs jobs for example, having specialist knowledge of the disease, specific patient groups and a network of key opinion leaders (KOLs) can hold a significant advantage. In clinical research jobs, there are important differences in the way that each phase of study is conducted and in the skills for interventional and non-interventional trials. Although skills can be transferable, hiring managers and recruiters usually look for CVs that show experience in the phase of study that is relevant to the position.
To find out more about what life sciences companies are looking for on your CV and increase the success rate of your job applications, check our our Guide to creating a successful CV.