Hints & Tips

If you're currently studying or have recently completed your studies, and are looking for your next career opportunity, our student internships or early career opportunities for graduates could be the ones for you.

Both our student internships and early career graduate opportunities are published for several months, with the selection panels meeting a few times per year.

Ace your application!

To get your application right, first check out our CV tips and tricks below as well as our tips for applying before you get started. Make sure you read all the information carefully and follow our lead. For students, the following video will give you some helpful advice to get you started.

CERN Student programme application: tips and tricks
Tips and tricks from the CERN Talent Acquisition team to help you ace your application for a place on our student programmes.

Tips for writing your CV

Do submit your CV!
Your CV is like your signature, your opportunity to convince us that you may be the right person for the job.

Content: keep it relevant.

Keep any job-unrelated material to a minimum. A typical CV contains five sections, usually in the following order:

  • Personal details (name, address, your digital footprint (e.g. Linkedin, a personal webpage) etc.). Don't feel obliged to tell us about your gender and family situation, this is not job-related. A picture is not necessary either: it doesn’t tell us anything about your competencies and we’re not hiring on looks!
  • Profile summary at the top of your CV: a brief statement that summarises your journey and key skills for the job you're applying for.
  • Key skills: be selective, focus on those that are relevant to the job. An overloaded list will lose its impact.
  • Relevant work experience, in reverse chronological order. This is the most important section, as past experience will inform us about your potential for the position. Refer as much as possible to specific achievements e.g. size of team you have managed, length/budget/scope of projects you have worked on, gain in efficiency you have achieved etc.
  • Educational background, languages, training courses: mention only background which is relevant for the job (if you have a university degree, we guess you went through high school before that!).

Format: keep it short, clear and concise

  • Aim to fit your CV on no more than two A4 pages, whatever the length of your experience.
  • Avoid using standard CV templates you find on the web. Writing a CV is personal, so an opportunity to convey your unique strengths and skills: make the most of it and tailor it!
  • Take care of layout, headings, spacing and font: your CV must look attractive, easy to read and professional: avoid overloading with colours or quirky formatting.
  • Check any spelling, grammar and other mistakes: a CV littered with errors affect the credibility of your application.
  • Use bullet points to explain your duties and achievements. Keep them simple and impactful by using action verbs. Avoid narrative style: recruiters have little time to read it.. Efficiency and clarity are key!
  • Please submit all application documents either in French or in English, the two official working languages used at CERN.

And now come the tips: how to stand out from the crowd!

It is key that you catch the recruiter’s attention within the first seconds. Here are 3 tips to make your CV stand out of the crowd.

  • Tailor your CV to the position in question: Short and concise is key. Succeeding in focusing on and highlighting what is relevant for the post you apply for is a great asset for your application.
  • Read the vacancy notice carefully, tailor your wording to the job and emphasise those experiences that are relevant to it! If you have been waiter at a restaurant, that's great, but it’s probably not very helpful in designing superconducting magnets. Recruiters at CERN don’t use software search for key words, nevertheless their eyes unconsciously seek them out when they have to read over 200 CVs.

The sooner the recruiter identifies key words that relate to the job, the higher the probability you will make it through this first stage.


Tips for applying
Ace your application

The best tip: communicate your passion, your motivation and your desire to join this unique place to work!

  • Where to begin? Browse our opportunities in the menu at the top and read up about CERN.
  • Apply for a position that you feel matches your profile, skillset and aspirations. Please note that we only accept specific job applications for given published positions: spontaneous/generic applications are not considered.
  • Once you identify a match between your profile and a position, take the first step: click on apply! You will be taken to our Applicant Tracking System, Smartrecruiters and you will be guided every step of the way.
  • You will be guided through the eligibility criteria and requirements, what documents to provide and what questions to answer to make sure your application is complete. Make sure you read it all carefully and follow our guidance!
  • Make good use of the motivation section to explain why you want to join CERN, what you can bring to the Organisation and in return what the Organisation can bring to your career.
  • Make sure your CV is tailored to the position, and put care into it: for example, avoid spelling mistakes and over-formatting, keep it clear and keep it 'you'. 
  • If you want to add documents, such as a cover letter, references (NB: some positions require these): please do. You can manage your documents in your Smartrecruiters profile.

How long does it typically take to complete an application?

It all depends on your upstream preparation. If you have already prepared your tailored motivation letter/statement and CV, it can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. We are looking forward to receiving your application!


I've submitted my application, what happens next?

Once your application has been received and provided you meet the eligibility criteria, you will receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your application. Then it's a waiting game until the committee meets, with the additional step for students of the opportunity to complete a web-based video interview in which you will be able to further motivate your application and the reasons you wish to join this unique Organisation.

Final decisions regarding application outcomes come a few days after the selection committees have taken place.

And a final thought...

Please remember you are applying for a place on a student or fellowship programme, not for specific positions. Hiring managers will browse the pool of all applications for their projects. We receive 1000's of top-class applications for only a couple hundred places on the student and fellow programmes, so managing one's expectations is key.

Owing to the generic nature of these programmes and the volume of applications we receive, we are therefore unable to give tailored feedback to applicants in the event you're not successful. But don't be disheartened, persevere and try again!

Good luck!

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