Drafting a professional CV, hands-on activity

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a document that outlines your knowledge, skills, experience and achievements. It is one of the required documents of a job application.

The CV allows recruitment managers or panels to quickly assess whether job applicants meet the essential requirements and desirable characteristics for an advertised role. The CV informs the shortlisting of candidates for interview.

In this blog article, you will learn about how to draft a professional CV for job applications through a practical activity.

It is important to note that your CV should be tailored to a particular job description. This may be an advertised role or a role you intend to secure in an identified organisation.

Depending on the nature of the role, you may write a 1-2 page CV (e.g. most industrial jobs) or a 6-8 page CV (e.g. academic/research jobs).

If a résumé (rather than CV) is requested, this should be a 1 page document with three main sections outlining your most relevant work experience and duties; your education and your key skills relevant to the job.

The practical exercise below is based on a biomedical science graduate who is applying for a job as a Laboratory Analyst in a Pharmaceutical Organisation. The output for this exercise is a 2 page CV.

You may practice each section of the CV by creating your own word document or you may check (☑) your already prepared CV against the outline below. You should consider the tips below each section of the CV.

The first component of the CV is a heading with your name and correspondence (postal address, email and telephone number).

P.O. Box 999999999, Akim Oda, Ghana
Mobile: +233 244 88 000 00 00 | Email:
TIP: This should be concise and avoid including irrelevant personal details, such as date of birth, nationality and sex. If these details are required you will be asked in a separate application form.

Begin the main part of the CV with a summary of your qualifications as below. You may create a table in your word document to ensure that your CV is well organised. Select no border lines after you complete the tables.

– BSc Biomedical Science graduate from the University of Science, with specialisation in pharmaceutical analysis, drug testing and clinical chemistry
– Experience in pharmaceutical research through BSc Dissertation project
– Proficient in laboratory instrumentation and quality assessment
TIP: The summary of qualifications is a brief outline of your key qualifications, experience and skills that match the job description. You should state these concisely in 3-4 bullet points.

The next section of your CV should outline your educational background. You should highlight up to six courses you took and/or a project you worked on during your degree that are relevant to the job.

2010 – 2014Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences (First class honours), University of Science, Kumasi, Ghana.

Key subjects: Metabolism of Drugs and Health Risk Toxicants, Medical Biochemistry, Immunology, Hormone Action and Health, Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Dissertation: The metabolism of anticancer drugs and chemotherapy resistance
2007 – 2010West African Senior School Certificate (WASSCE), General Science, St Augustine College, Cape Coast, Ghana.
TIP: You should write this section in a reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent qualification.

The Education section should be followed by your work experience. This includes any industrial attachment, internship or placement you took during your studies.

09/2014 – 08/2015Laboratory Assistant (National Service Person), Centre for Pharmaceutical Analysis, University of Science.

Worked on random control trial (RCT) projects for industrial clients.

Projects: Assessment of the viability of malaria vaccine candidates; Development and validation of new methods for drug analysis
09/2013 – 04/2014Research Intern in Pharmaceutical Analysis, Food and Drugs Regulation, Accra, Ghana.

Worked on a collaborative project aimed at assessing the metabolism of anticancer drugs. This was a research placement as part of my BSc in Biomedical Science
at the University of Science.
TIP: Include all relevant jobs or work experience under this section and match your roles to the job you intend to apply.

The next sections of your CV should focus on any additional training, experience, professional body affiliation, and achievements (e.g. publications and awards) relevant to the role. Examples of these sections are outlined below and you may include them in your CV if relevant to the role and you have supporting evidence for these experience or achievements.

Design and Interpretation of Clinical Trials by John Hopkins University on Coursera. Certificate earned on January 25, 2015.
Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Innovations by University of Minnesota on Coursera. Certificate earned on January 20, 2015.
TIP: If there is an online certificate for any additional training, you may include the link to the certificate under each item.
2014 – present Member, Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists
TIP: You should confirm that your membership of any professional body relevant to the role is active and you can provide supporting evidence.
2016‘Anticancer properties of maize leaves.’ With Nsiah et al., Scientect Journal of Life Sciences, 2(1), 1–10.
28/06/2015Best student in Immunology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Science, Ghana.
Laboratory skillsCompetent in the use of analytical instruments such as HPLC, GC, FTIR, NMR, UV/VIS, Capillary Electrophoresis, Microscopy.
Computing skillsIBM SPSS Statistics, NanoDrop 1000 V3.8.1, Stratagene MxPro, GeneMapper, Microsoft
Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Picture Manager).
Extracurricular activitiesChairman of Outreach Committee (2011 – 2014), Biomedical Science Students Association, University of Science, Ghana.
TIP: Include any additional skills or experience relevant to the role under this section.

The final output of the CV example used for this exercise can be downloaded here:

You should note that there is no need to include references on the CV. This may be requested by the organisation if you are shortlisted or you may be asked to include references on a separate application form. Further, you may rearrange the different sections of the CV depending on your experience and the job description.

I hope you found this blog useful and I wish you all the best in your job applications.

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