How to Create the Best Clinical Research Resume or CV


Clinical research associates are incredibly important in the life science community because they are necessary for the completion of clinical trials. 

There are many types of clinical trials, including those that are meant to evaluate specific drugs, surgeries or behavioral interventions in hopes to learn about and work toward creating new treatment options. 

Last year, 399,518 registered clinical trials took place in the United States, and 52,547 of those trials posted results. By September 2022, there were already 429,335  registered clinical trials. As technology and research continue to advance, the need for clinical trials grows. And because of the sheer amount of clinical trials, CRAs are often in high demand. 

CRAs are responsible for monitoring clinical trials, recording progress and analyzing results. 

On average, clinical research assistants make around $57,000 annually, according to Glassdoor. There are currently 28,847 CRAs employed in the United States.

On BioSpace's job board, there are 1,476 clinical research jobs currently open. These jobs listed are all for positions in a pharmaceutical company, medical research institution or government agency. 

If you're considering applying for a CRA position, check out our tips on how to update your resume to give you the best chances of standing out as a candidate. 

How to Create the Best Clinical Research Resume or CV

  1. Focus On Your Professional Summary 

The professional summary is a short paragraph most often found at the top of your resume that summarizes who you are as a candidate. 

The summary should be a few concise sentences that emphasize your most important experiences and skills, as well as your top qualifications for the role. After reading your summary, employers should know why you are the candidate that is perfect for this job.

Since employers generally only spend about seven seconds on every resume they see, it's important to summarize your accomplishments and career path in a short, easy-to-understand way. Professional summaries should be three sentences at the most.  

Here is an example from Live Career

Creative Clinical Research Associate with extensive project experience from concept to development. Talents include in-depth knowledge of ICH guidelines, SAE reporting, and GCP auditing. Integral team player with excellent communication skills; fluent in French.

  1. Include Keywords

When hiring, computer systems are often outfitted with specific algorithms designed to shuffle through resumes and highlight specific keywords that would indicate which candidates likely have the qualities and experience required in the role. 

Some keywords that are commonly looked for in life science positions include: Leadership, Experimental Design, Clinical Data Management, Clinical Monitoring, Protocol, Clinical Trials, Data Monitoring, Statistical Analysis, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Auditing, Serious Adverse Effects (SAE) Reporting, International Council for Harmonisation (ICH) Guidelines, etc. 

You can include these keywords in your professional summary, throughout your work experience section, or in a special section devoted to your relevant skills. If you do opt to have a skills section, you should include your top nine or so skills that are relevant to this position by noting them with bullet points.

  1. Highlight Your Past Roles 

Besides your career summary, employers will be looking at your previous history in order to understand if you have the skills required to work as a CRA in their company. 

Rather than just listing your previous positions, give a sense of your responsibilities in each role you've held. Remember, you don't need to list out every single job you've had, just highlight the positions that taught you something that has led you to have the skills to apply for this role as a CRA. 

Using action verbs to list out your responsibilities and describe the impact you've made at each position will help better inform potential employers who you are as a candidate. 

Also, job titles can differ from place to place, so it's best to explain what your role was at the previous companies so there's no room left for confusion. 

Highlight your key accomplishments in every role with just one or two short bullet points. Any statistics or data you can cite in this section will strengthen your resume.  

  1. Emphasize Specializations 

What type of setting do you see yourself working in as a CRA? Do you have experience in that setting or with clinical trials focused on specific types of diseases or drugs? If so, you should make sure to highlight that information in your career summary and in your work history. 

For example, if you are applying to be a CRA for a company working on diabetes and insulin products, you should emphasize any experiences you have had that deal with diabetes or insulin. So if your fellowship focuses on synthesizing various types of insulin, you should definitely highlight that experience. 

If, on the other hand, you worked with cancer cells during your fellowship instead, you should emphasize what skills you learned in that trial setting that can carry over to be valuable in a setting dealing with diabetes. Some examples of these skills include data collection and analysis, GCP procedures, clinical data management, organization, etc. 

If you are specifically interested in working in a certain branch of clinical trials – like the ones within pharmaceutical companies or the ones dealing with ALS disease, for example – then you should seek out CRA positions that are in that niche. 

With there being so many clinical trials and such a large need for CRAs, you're likely to find something that satisfies your interests and still gives you the work experience you're after.

  1. Be Honest 

You've undoubtedly heard at least one person say they've lied on their resume and got the job anyway. While this can happen, it's not recommended for many reasons. 

Lying on your resume is a great way to get put into a role you're not qualified for and don't know how to do. Even if it's not a big lie, employers will look at you differently if they go to fact-check your resume and find that you tried to pull the wool over them. 

Even if it's something as arbitrary as the amount of money received from a grant, you should assume that someone on the hiring team is going to do a background check and verify that what you're saying is true. If an employer finds out you are lying on your resume or that you lied in the interview, they probably won't want to work with you anymore because you'll have proved that you're untrustworthy. 

Refuse the urge to try and make yourself sound better through little white lies. Instead, highlight your actual accomplishments and work to the best of your ability. 

  1. Double-Check Your Work 

Just like you would double-check your findings in the lab, you'll need to give your resume a good, hard look before submitting it. You'll need to look your resume over with a critical eye to find any glaring errors. You don't want to stand out because of a typo or other careless error when you should be standing out for your experience and unique set of skills. 

For help in making sure your resume is in good condition, consider reaching out to a friend or colleague to offer their opinion. 

If you are still unsure about your resume, or you feel like it's not gaining the traction it deserves during your job search, consider hiring a professional resume writer. Per their profession, they'll be able to offer tips and considerations that you might need to adapt in order to stand out from other candidates. 

For any other questions you might have during your job search, visit BioSpace's career resources section.

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