Tips on writing a CV for CERN

Even though in your CERN application you will write about all your experience (in detail), your CV is an important part of the application. Many think that a CV gives away a lot about the person, so take your time and make sure that your CV is perfect.

The first thing I do when I write my CV is open up a page where I have all trainings, courses and other things I did. If you don’t have such a book/page just write down everything on the piece of paper. Then think about how you want to structure it.

Everyone has their own preference how they want to start their CV. Usually people chose either education or experience as a first thing to put in their CV. My personal preference is to put experience and trainings first since that is what matters most when applying for these kinds of position.

Currently, my CV has two columns. On the first page in first column, I list experience on top and in the second column education and below that trainings that I have done. This is making my CV readable and all information is just there and easily accessible.

Here is a brief list of what you should include in your CV:

  • Experience: Use the chance to write down everything you have accomplished so far! Did you do any internship? What about projects or experimental work? It doesn’t matter whether this experience is directly relevant to the position you are applying for, just put it there. For example, in my CV for the summer student position I put down that I have experience with Fortran. I didn’t think that was relevant in any way and I didn’t even want to put it in my CV. I ended up working on a project at CERN that used a Fortran program. ☺ Another good thing to do might be to list skills you gained on that position. Bullet points are enough. Make sure that you are very clear about position you held and what was your contribution.
  • Education: Put only relevant degrees. I think if you have a BSc we can assume you finished high school. If you were in the top X% of your class or have a high average grade, write that down as well.
  • Trainings/courses: If you completed any (online) courses and/or workshops, make sure to list them all.
  • Publications/conferences: Try to avoid publications with many authors unless you made a significant contribution. You can also just write how you contributed to the paper in the first place. If you gave any presentations or presented posters at a conference, don’t forget to mention that as well.
  • Scholarships/awards: Here, you might want was the award for (if it is not obvious from the name of the award/scholarship). This can be anything from poster presentation award to university awards or any other external awards that will make you CV stand out.
  • Skills: Write down all skills you think would be good for the position you are applying. Do not lie! If you think you will learn something by the time you will get the position that is great, but do not list it on your resume. What do you think it will happen if your employer expects you to know something but you failed to master the skill in time? It is certainly an unnecessary risk and can leave quite a bad impression.
  • Outreach/extracurricular activates: Are you part of some organization, committee, or group? Did you organize some events? What about volunteering? Yes? Write it down! Here you can also write about some of your hobbies, but that is really up to you and depends a lot on the position you are applying for. For the summer student position, I didn’t put my hobbies but for the scholarship award I did.
  • Other relevant information Do not forget to mention languages, name, address and nationality.

Here are some additional general tips:

  • Your CV shouldn’t take up more than two A4 pages;
  • Make sure that font, heading, spacing, etc. are all right;
  • Have your CV checked by a native English/French speaker or a professional;
  • Because of the number of applicants CERN prefers clean, clear, simple and concise CVs. Bullet points are good way to go. :);
  • Be accurate!
  • A photo can be included or not. Depending on the country you apply for, a photo in the CV is either recommended or not. Since your employer at CERN can be from any country this is your choice only. I personally prefer not to put my photo in the applications and CV.

After writing this article I also checked if CERN maybe has something similar on their website. They do and here is the link to their article on CV writing:

Hope this helps and good luck!