Flexible hours, varied projects and invaluable experience? There’s no wonder you’re looking for a role as a research assistant.
But if you want to land the best jobs, you’re going to need to show off your qualifications and research skills on a professional CV.
This in-depth writing guide will explain how to create a CV that lands interviews and secures you the role you want.
It also includes an example research assistant CV, to give you a better idea of how to present your information.
- Research assistant CV example
- Structuring and formatting your CV
- Writing your CV profile
- Detailing work experience
- Your education
- Skills required for your research assistant CV
Research assistant CV example
Before setting pen to paper, take a good look over the CV example above to get familiar with the structure, layout and format of a professional CV.
This applicant’s relevant research experience, skill and qualifications jump out of the page, allowing their suitability to shine through at a glance.
Research assistant CV structure & format
The format and structure of your CV are important because they will determine how easy it is for recruiters and employers to read your CV.
If they can find the information they need quickly, they’ll be happy; but if they struggle, your application could be overlooked.
Check them out below:
- Length: If you want to hold the reader’s attention, it’s best to stick to two sides of A4 or less. This is more than enough room to highlight why you’re a good match for the role – anything more can quickly become tedious!
- Readability: Columns, lists, bullet points, bold text and subtle colour can all help to aid the readability of your CV. Your overarching goal should be to make the content as easy to read and navigate as possible, whilst also aiming to make your key skills and achievements stand out.
- Design: Your CV needs to look professional, sleek and easy to read. A subtle colour palette, clear font and simple design are generally best for this, as fancy designs are often harder to navigate.
- Avoid: Logos, profile photos or other images aren’t necessary and rarely add any value – save the space for written content, instead!
Structuring your CV
Head your CV into the following sections:
- Name and contact details – Always start with these, so employers know exactly how to get in touch with you.
- CV profile – Add a short summary of your relevant experience, skills and achievements, which highlights your suitability.
- Core skills section – A 2-3 columned list of your key skills.
- Work experience – A detailed list of any relevant work experience, whether paid or voluntary.
- Education – An overview of your academic background and any training you may have completed.
- Hobbies + Interests – A brief overview of your hobbies and interests, if they’re relevant (optional).
Next, I’ll talk you through what type of content you should include in each of the CV sections above.
CV Contact Details
Start off your CV with a basic list of your contact details.
Here’s what you should include:
- Mobile number
- Email address
- Location – Share your town or city only; there’s no need for a full address.
- LinkedIn profile – Make sure the information on your profile is up-to-date and complete.
Quick tip: Delete excessive details, such as your date of birth or marital status. Recruiters don’t need to know this much about you, so it’s best to save the space for your other CV sections.
Research assistant CV Profile
This is a short introduction paragraph which summarises your most relevant skills, knowledge and experience.
It should sum up why you’d make a great fit for the role and entice recruiters to read through the rest of your CV.
Tips to consider when creating your profile:
- Avoid clichés: “Determined team player who always gives 110%” might seem like a good way to fill up your CV profile, but generic phrases like this won’t land you an interview. Recruiters hear them time and time again and have no real reason to believe them. Pack your profile with your hard skills and tangible achievements instead.
- Keep it short: Recruiters are busy, so to ensure your profile is actually read, it’s best to keep it short and snappy. 3-5 punchy lines makes for the perfect profile length.
- Research your target role: When recruiters spot a generic CV, they chuck it straight into the bin. The CV should closely match the essential requirements listed in the job ad, so make sure to review them before you write your CV profile.
- Ditch objectives: You only have a short space for your CV profile, so avoid writing down your career goals or objectives. If you think these will help your application, incorporate them into your cover letter instead.
What to include in your research assistant CV profile?
Research experience – Start by providing a snappy overview of any relevant research experience so far, focusing on showcasing any experience within the field you’re applying for. Discuss how many years experience you have, what areas of expertise and subject knowledge you’ve gained and what type of projects you’ve worked on.
Key skills – Whether it’s statistical methods or using specialist equipment, make sure your profile is packed with your key sector skills. Remember to tailor these to what’s listed in the job requirements and aim to match yourself up as closely as you can.
Qualifications – An academic undergraduate degree or higher in a relevant field is often a requirement for research roles, so remember to highlight yours early on in your profile, along with any other relevant sector qualifications.
Achievements – Whether it’s an academic award, a publication or a particularly impressive exam result in a relevant subject, try to incorporate some of your most relevant and impressive achievements into your profile.
Quick tip: Even the best of writers can overlook typos and spelling mistakes. Whilst writing your CV, use a free writing assistant tool, such as Grammarly, to double-check your accuracy.
Core skills section
Underneath your profile, create a core skills section.
It should be made up of 2-3 columns of bullet points of your relevant skills.
Before you do this, look over the job description and make a list of any specific skills, specialisms or knowledge required.
Then, make sure to use your findings on your list. This will paint you as the perfect match for the role.
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Work experience/Career history
Now that recruiters have a good overview of your skills and abilities, you need to jump into the detail of your career history.
Give them a more thorough insight into what you can do by creating a detailed list of your relevant research assistant experience.
Start with your current role, and work backwards through all the relevant positions you’ve held.
This could be freelance, contract or voluntary work too; as long as it’s related to the role you’re applying for.
Quick tip: If you’re applying as a graduate and have limited work experience, it might be beneficial to flip the CV sections around and detail your education before your work experience, as this is what recruiters will be most interested in.
Structuring your roles
If you don’t pay attention to the structure of your career history section, it could quickly become bulky and overwhelming.
Get in recruiter’s good books by creating a pleasant reading experience, using the 3-step structure below:
Provide a brief overview of the job or project as a whole, what your role entailed and what type of company/institution you worked for.
“Worked within the academic researcher team at my University; responsible for preparing research papers and presenting findings at academic meetings.”
Use bullet points to detail the key responsibilities of your role, highlighting hard skills and specialist knowledge wherever you can.
- Learnt and up kept all laboratory and compliance requirements throughout experiments.
- Analysed data and and visualised data using fact sheets, graphs and tables.
- Submitted high-quality manuscripts to established journals for submission online and in print.
Round up each role by listing 1-3 key achievements, accomplishments or results.
Wherever possible, quantify them using hard facts and figures, as this really helps to prove your value.
- Carried out in-depth research into 10 unique projects and added over 2000 records per project to the database.
- Increased accuracy of transmission projects by 45%.
Although there should be mentions of your highest and most relevant qualifications earlier on in your CV, save your exhaustive list of qualifications for the bottom.
If you’re an experienced candidate, simply include your higher qualifications, such as your degree or masters.
However, less experienced candidates can provide a more thorough list of qualifications, including A-Levels and GCSEs.
If you’re an undergraduate or recent graduate, you should also dedicate more space to your degree, discussing relevant exams, assignments and modules in more detail.
Interests and hobbies
Although this is an optional section, it can be useful if your hobbies and interests will add further depth to your CV.
Interests that show valuable transferable skills and capabilities, such as volunteering, being the president of a University committee, fundraising or being part of a sport’s team, are well worth listing.
On the other hand, generic hobbies like ‘going out with friends’ won’t add any value to your application, so are best left off your CV.
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Essential skills for your research assistant CV
Remember to tailor your research assistant skills to the specific roles you’re applying for — however, some of the core skills necessary include:
Subject knowledge – Strong knowledge and a passion for your specific subject area.
Lab techniques – Knowledge and familiarity with the required scientific methods, lab techniques and equipment used.
Report writing – Preparing and writing reports to present findings.
Data analysis – Collecting, processing and analysing project data.
Numerical skills – Advanced mathematical ability.
Health + safety – Ability to adhere to health and safety + infection control regulations.
Writing your research assistant CV
When putting together your research assistant CV, there are a few key points to remember.
Always tailor your CV to the target role, even if it means creating several versions for different roles.
Additionally, remember that the structure and format of your CV need just as much attention as the content.
Remember to triple-check for spelling and grammar errors before hitting send, as even minor errors could be a disadvantage.
Good luck with your job search!