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Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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3 Creating a CV

Last week you added your experience, skills and qualifications to your LinkedIn profile. This week you have looked at what skills are in demand in your sector. You will now bring those things together to make a draft CV. If you haven’t yet got an up-to-date CV you can build one at LinkedIn from the information you have put into your profile.

Activity 4 Downloading your CV

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

You can download and save your LinkedIn profile into a PDF.

  1. Click Profile at the top of your homepage.
  2. Move your cursor over the Down arrow next to the View profile as button.
  3. Select Save to PDF.

The PDF file will be downloaded and saved to the default download location on your computer. Once you open the file you can print it, or alternatively, if you want to edit the CV further then cut and paste the text into a Word document.


If you want to edit the CV further then cut and paste the text into a Word document.

You are going to spend some time considering the look and feel of your CV. You can either use the CV you downloaded from LinkedIn or, alternatively, you may already have a CV that you’ve used for previous job applications.

Space and font

Your use of space and font can have a surprising degree of impact on the way your CV is perceived and the image you want to project. Recruitment experts advise you to keep the font simple, with many recommending using either Arial for simplicity and readability, or Helvetica, which has the right mix of professional seriousness and clarity. Some recruiters advise against using Calibri or Times New Roman: because they are the ‘default’ fonts on many templates, it can look as though you haven’t considered any other options. You should also consider what looks good on screen as well as in print – always assume that prospective employers will print a hard copy of your CV – and avoid using flowery or gimmicky fonts such as Comic Sans. It’s worth trying out some ready-made templates to see what kind of style you’d like your CV to have and which one you think gives the impression you are trying to portray.


You’ll probably develop your CV in Word or another word processing package; you are unlikely to be sending out printed copies these days so you will need to have a version of it available as a PDF suitable for emailing. You’ll also need a plain text format version that you can easily copy from and paste into online forms. If you try and copy and paste from a nicely formatted Word document, the end result can end up looking messy because of hidden formatting characters in the text. Above all, pay attention to what the employer or recruiter has asked for when you write your CV or application and stick to their requirements.


Your use of language should convey your strengths and abilities, so think carefully about your choice of words. Table 2 contains a list of power and action words and terms that can help your CV sound dynamic and assertive.

Table 1 Powerful terms for your CV
More than x years extensive and diverse experience in Expertise and demonstrated skills in
Extensive academic/practical background in Experienced in all facets/phases/aspects of
Knowledge of/experienced as/in Extensive training/involvement in
Proficient/competent at Initially employed to/joined organisation to specialise in
Provided technical assistance to Worked closely with
Constant interaction with Promoted to
Succeeded in Proven track record in
Experience involved/included Successful in/at
Reported to In charge of
Now involved in Familiar with
Employed to Assigned to
Edited Established
Formulated Initiated
Implemented Managed
Instrumental in

Another handy tip is to use the past tense to introduce an achievement – it gives the impression that you’ve completed and achieved something. For example, use ‘designed suspension bridge’, rather than ‘designing suspension bridge’ or ‘investigated’ rather than ‘the investigation of’. Avoid the use of the first-person ‘I’ if you can, and drop the words ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’.

Emphasis and tone

Try and come across as positive; focus on what you have achieved and what you have to offer. Don’t be apologetic about gaps in your career. Explain gaps concisely and focus on the skills developed through voluntary activities/re-training/studying during that period to show that it has been a productive and positive experience. Remember to highlight and emphasise your relevant skills and experience.


It is generally best to just put ‘References available on request’ on a CV to avoid referee fatigue. This is particularly important if you are applying for lots of jobs, and particularly if you are sending speculative applications or uploading your CV to a recruitment website.

Activity 5 The tone of your CV

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Open your CV and update it so that it is in a format and font you are happy with. Re-read it. Are you happy with its emphasis, tone and language?


You have seen what skills are in demand in your sector. Try to highlight these skills on your CV and show where you have demonstrated them.

Later on in the course, you’ll return to your CV and look at optimising it for particular job opportunities.