5 tips to write the perfect STEM CV
STEM. Science. Technology. Engineering. Maths. Got it? Okay good, I’ve found you some cracking advice from Reed on how to write the perfect CV to get into one of the STEM industries (they all link into each other anyway!). They’re in need of some fresh blood. A new, younger workforce. The industries are growing and people are retiring. That leaves a skills gap. You can fill it!
First up, here’s some great news: STEM prospects are not only in high-demand, they’re also being paid pretty well.
In fact, 66.3% of UK engineering & technology grads are in full time employment within six months of graduation. With an average starting salary at £26,536, an increase on £21,725 for all graduates.
The first step to starting your career in STEM is, of course, to gather the level of education and relevant experience that will make you an appealing hire.
The next step is to take those qualifications and craft them into a CV that shows potential employers that you’re far and away the best candidate for the position.
1. Place your technical skills near the top
Highlight your technical skills and abilities at the document’s beginning — just after contact information — followed by experience, projects and then education. You should also organize your skills based on proficiency, so potential employers can get a feel for your specific areas of expertise.
“You should go into the writing and creation phase knowing people will be skimming pretty heavily, usually for around 20 seconds maximum per [CV], so you really need to put the most important things at the top, and organize it in a way that you make sure all the relevant stuff is being seen,” says Shanna Gregory, dean of Grace Hopper Academy, an immersive software engineering school for women.
Skills can often trump experience on a STEM CV in regard to relevance, due to the increasing commonality of people applying to jobs that haven’t technically existed before.
Think of it this way: If a position has just been created without precedent, you can’t really have experience in that specific position. You can, however, have the skill set needed to take on the position’s responsibilities.
2. End strong with your education
Your educational information should go toward the bottom of your CV — not because it’s unimportant, but because the degrees, honours and accolades you’ve earned are not generally something a potential employer or recruiter is going to gloss over.
“If someone is looking at your [CV], they’re not going to not look at education,” says Gregory, so pushing it to the end of your document won’t be detrimental to your cause if a recruiter or hiring manager is merely skimming.
3. Highlight internships, co-ops and fellowships
Most STEM skills are not taught, cultivated and honed exclusively in a classroom, so internships and co-ops are beneficial to place hand-in-hand with your educational experience.
Time spent interning with an IT department or including a coding-related co-op in your university or post-university regimen are the types of things that get you hands-on experience with (and mentorship from) professionals in your chosen field — while also making you more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers, and equipping you with helpful references.
If you’re still in school or recently graduated, you can seek recommendations and guidance on the internships you should pursue from science and engineering professors.
Technology recruiter Tricia Lucas’s point-of-view is that internships, co-ops and fellowships are the best CV builders for students and recent graduates.
“I want to see that STEM graduates not only have the coursework but the practical application and experience in real world environments, and the competitive drive to achieve,” says Lucas, co-founder of recruiting and consulting firm Lucas Select.
4. Share your personal projects
It’s likely your career desires overlap with your hobbies and a general interest in STEM, and that personal projects have helped you master your skills.
So, if you’ve done something like code a website or engineer and build a robot, don’t hesitate to include it on your CV, as it shows potential employers that you genuinely care about STEM fields.
“That’s something I would definitely say should be included in STEM [CVs] that wouldn’t necessarily be included so much in a lot of other fields,” says Gregory. “The people with the most impressive educational backgrounds are important to companies, but they’re also looking out for passion. If you can’t highlight your actual interest in the field or the career, it’s very, very hard to convince someone to hire you.”
5. Tailor your CV for specific jobs
Since STEM is constantly evolving in more rapid and extreme ways than many other fields, the names and natures of available jobs are constantly changing.
What’s this mean to you?
That you’re potentially going to be applying to a slew of jobs that are in your chosen field, but are listed under different position or title names, and that require varying responsibilities and skill sets.
Take a bit of time to alter your CV to fit the best it can for the specific job you’re applying for. When you’re applying for jobs, you can choose to use a CV template, or swap it out for one you’ve custom-made to fit a specific posting.