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Writing a manager CV for pharmaceutical companies

Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Posted:24/06/2020

Updating a CV is consistently considered one of the more tedious parts of securing a job, but as the first step and the first impression to potential employers, it is important that it reflects your aptitude and successes appropriately. This is especially key if you are writing a manager CV for more senior roles within the pharmaceutical industry.

When writing a CV for managerial role, there is often a temptation to mimic and loosely adapt an existing template. However, a CV for a senior role must reflect different attributes that are not often present in CVs for lower seniority roles.

There are some core elements to consider when updating a CV for senior-level jobs that hiring managers and HR will look out for during the initial selection process. By adapting your CV to take these tips into account, your manager CV is more likely to stand-out and be considered for more senior-level positions as part of your career progression through the life sciences and pharma industry. 

Show results with quantitative data

The life sciences industry grounds itself in evidence-based data and this mentality should continue through to a CV for a manager job in pharma. A key differentiator from an early career CV and a CV from someone applying for a senior role is whether they “show” or “tell” their employment achievements.

Rather than simply listing your responsibilities in former jobs, hiring managers want to see your results. A CV will stand out if it includes quantifiable data that show examples of achievements.

  • 20% increase in efficiency
  • 12% reduction in costs
  • Delivered over 30,000 units on-brief and within the deadline

Phrases like these are much more impactful than a list of daily tasks and demonstrate how your work supports the wider business goals.

Remember who will be reading

It is key to keep the reader at the forefront of your mind when writing it, especially for more senior positions.

Listing tasks you were assigned is useful, but does that tell the hiring managers that they need to hear for a management role? With senior roles likely having a tough application competition, a strong CV will help a strong candidate stand out.

If you are writing a CV for a manager job in pharma, then you will likely be looking to lead a team or project. It may sound obvious, but it is important that your CV shows demonstrable leadership experience and thinking beyond your daily tasks to be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Keep the content relevant and honest

Ambition and enthusiasm are great traits for a potential employee, but it is never advisable to falsify information on your CV. This is particularly important when writing a CV for senior roles as senior managers will be expected to represent and be accountable for the pharmaceutical company that hires them.

It’s cliché advice, but in nearly every recruitment process, there are instances where great candidates miss out on opportunities due to inconsistencies in their CV. Exaggerations are much less likely to be tolerated by hiring managers for senior roles and whilst it might make a CV may stand out, it will likely have a negative impact on the remainder of the hiring process.

Prioritise your CV space allocation

When writing a CV, it is important to keep the reader – HR’s talent acquisition of hiring manger - at the forefront of your mind. Therefore, it is important to consider factors such as the formatting and weighting of a CV. This is particularly key for the large-scale pharma companies, they will receive a lot of applications and may employ a strict initial vetting process to highlight core candidates to consider.

CVs for manager jobs in pharmaceutical companies will likely come from professionals with a developed employment history; especially in the pharmaceutical industry, where academic success and external contributions to the field may hold core relevance.

CVs are generally about 2 pages long and with potentially hundreds of other applicants, it is more beneficial to focus the relevant experience towards the beginning of the CV.

Listing your core achievements and technical skillsets in an executive summary, alongside quantitative achievements and perhaps some testimonials if you have them, will immediately emphasise to a hiring manager the key elements that show your suitability for the role.

Early career positions and academic history arguably show growth and career development; however, they should not be prioritised over the recent roles and contributions that will help make you stand out as a desirable candidate. These can be included as bullet points towards the end if you have space or listed within an accompanying appendix. 

Tailor a CV to the position

By applying for a senior position, you’re looking for more responsibility within a business. If you can tailor your CV to ensure it is representing key points of the initial job description, your CV will not only immediately tick boxes for your relevance to the role, but it shows an attention to detail that many employers will value.

When applying for a senior role, showing the difference between a default CV curated for multiple early level positions and a manager CV where you have dedicated time and effort to tailor your CV to the specific role/company highlights your understanding of the recruitment process, experience within the industry and commitment to secure this job as part of your career development.

Promote your personal brand in the industry

When it comes to senior positions within a pharmaceutical company, it is likely the hiring managers have a strong idea of the experiences, skillsets and personality traits they are looking for to fill the position. Senior roles will still like to see potential in candidates, but experience and specialism are more important to stand out in the application process.

Your experience and your successes are all part of forming your place within the industry. Whilst you don’t have to be a key speaker at several events or an award-winning pioneer, promoting your unique qualities and specialist expertise is very important, particularly within pharmaceuticals.

Niche skill sets and specialisations such as specific experience within oncology or a unique background in the medical field help make candidates stand out. Clients have a specific brief in mind of what they need so if you can promote your specialisation, you’re in with a much better shot of progressing to the next stage.

List technical skills separately

Depending on the type of management position you are applying for, your technical and practical skills are not the only qualities hiring managers are looking to find in your CV. If you will be leading a team or project, your leadership, people management and operational experienced will also hold high weighting in the application process.

It is unlikely that you will be competing with candidates that do not hold the technical knowledge to succeed within the role, so listing your technical skills separately is a useful way to ensure you have space to highlight your leadership experience within your employment history.

In large pharmaceutical companies, there are often multiple stages in recruiting senior-level positions. The initial screening is usually to determine whether your CV contains key buzzwords that make you a relevant candidate. This checklist is not always conducted by a line manager or someone with the same scientific knowledge for the specific, niche role so a list of technical skills is a useful way to highlight your experience and training for anyone who reads your CV to understand and acknowledge. 



For life sciences professionals looking to advance their careers and move into management, ensuring their CV is targeted for these level positions is key to getting noticed and moving through the interview stages for more senior roles.

The CV writing process for management positions varies from non-management positions mainly in the balance between promoting skillsets, as well as promoting leadership and management qualities. By prioritising quantifiable achievements and demonstrating specialist experience within the life sciences sector, candidates can stand out in the recruitment process and will be more likely to be considered for senior management positions within the pharmaceutical market.

Our recruiters work with several candidates looking to climb the career ladder and move into more senior roles. For more information on opportunities within the industry to advance your career, you can contact our specialist life sciences recruiters here.

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