Preparing your life science CV for a job in sales

Overcoming the scepticism of a scientist is one of the hardest jobs in sales. Even though your product might be the best on the market and selling at the lowest price, it might not necessarily result in the scientist becoming convinced of its quality and a switch from the product they have been using over the past few years. 

The same can the said in many instances with CVs, although you may have the drive and know-how of the technical side of the scientific market, competing with someone that already has experience within the field can affect your chances of securing a position in sales and any job for that matter. 

However, although you may not have experience in managing accounts or following what is standard business protocol (something that all scientists can learn in an afternoon) tailoring your CV to focus on some key areas of strength can separate you from the crowd and give you the opportunity to interview for positions.

Tailoring your cover letter

Your cover letter will more than likely will be the first place you can make an impression on your future employer and therefore it is essential that you DO NOT USE a generic set of paragraphs to describe your experience. 

  • If possible mention your understanding of the company’s portfolio and how you have an in-depth knowledge of their competitors 
  • Describe how your experience relates to the position and how you can implement your skill set to be successful in this position
  • Describe how successful you have been in your career; I understand no one likes boasting, but demonstrating competitive edge through success can show how career driven you are and more than likely will be an asset to the company

Roles and responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities section in your CV will be a determining factor if you have a skillset to get the job. Therefore putting a lot of effort into this part of the CV is essential. 

  • Although we will all have “project management” experience from out PhDs and Post-Docs, going into a little more detail will give your perspective employers more insight into how great you really are
  • If possible, discuss how your project management was a success and discuss what the goals, objectives and outcomes were  
  • Including some business phrasing in your roles and responsibilities without sounding too cliché will also resonate with your employer who may not be used to scientific terminology and phrasing

Further training and outreach

This can be one of the most important sections of your CV as it demonstrates how diverse you can be as an employee. After multiple years in the lab you will be branded as purely a scientist, however, listing training that was not purely science based can demonstrate how you can take other concepts on board. Further training will also give your employer some information on where your future career ambitions may lie. 


Nothing screams success like winning awards. As we all know winning awards tells us that you were better than your peers and had the drive to succeed at a certain task. No matter what the award is, as long as it shows that you have a competitive edge, place it in your CV. If you have space take it one step further and explain why you won the award and how that success helped your achieve more. 

Hopefully most of this makes sense and although not all will apply, writing a well-structured CV will separate you out from most candidates and hopefully secure you that interview.

Seán Mac Fhearraigh received his Bachelor’s in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin and his PhD from University College Dublin and carried onto to do a Post-Doc at the University of Cambridge. He is currently online marketing manager and sales representative at and founder of the PhD and Post-Doctoral advice, you can find Seán on twitter with @PostPostDoc1



  • On December 23, 2013