Translated literally as “the course of my life,” a Curriculum Vitae is meant to cover the full scope of your educational and professional experiences, certifications, and accomplishments in one well-organized and easy-to-follow document. Both the information you provide and the manner in which you present it will determine a potential employer’s first impression of you, making a stand-out CV one of the most important tools when applying for a job or residency program.
This can make the task of writing of revising your CV a daunting one, and if you’ve never written a CV before or haven’t updated yours since you landed that first job right out of residency, you may be unsure about what to include or how to condense your professional life into a 2-4 page document. The following tips can help you write, re-write, or organize a stand-out CV that will give you an edge over the competition.
1. Be Thorough
Unlike resumes, CVs are not limited to just a page or two of highlights. Medical recruiters want to see the full scope of your experience in academic and professional settings. If there are any gaps in your work history, these should be acknowledged and explained.
Beyond your education and work history, you should also include sections for professional affiliations, certifications, honors, publications, research and teaching appointments, and references. Recruiters want to see the full scope of your experiences and qualifications, and these details are what can make you stand out from the crowd. Because requirements for jobs in the medical field are so demanding, it’s the icing on top that often matters.
2. Make it Readable
That being said, you don’t want your CV to turn into a slog to read. Medical recruiters expect a high level of detail, but the amount of time spent to review a given CV may be limited. Not leaving out any details doesn’t mean that you have to make it wordy and dense. Here are some suggestions:
- Be consistent: There are several ways to present information. Picking one that works for you, and sticking to it will make your CV appear clear, organized, and professional. Keeping things such dates in a format that is consistent throughout the entire document.
- Readable: Present the most important information first. Remember to be as clear and concise as possible.
- Organize strategically: Make sure it’s easy to read whether printed or digital. We will talk more about structure later.
- Proofread: A spelling or grammar error could be disastrous, so be sure to proofread several times to make sure these are nowhere to be seen. Once you are satisfied, have someone else proofread it. A fresh set of eyes will always help.
- Be concise: Use verbs with active voice. While using incomplete sentences is normally taboo, when used properly they can convey more information quickly in less space.
By being consistent, concise and well organized you can turn what could be a lengthy read into an informative life story with all the information a prospective employer would need at his/her finger tips. In a field where many providers often have similar qualifications, have a well-written CV that is readable can give you a leg up on the competition.
3. Have Good Structure
While there are many ways to structure your document, it can still be difficult to know where to start. Below is a suggested way that several sources suggest are one of the most effective ways to section off your CV.
- Contact info: Always goes on the top of the page. Incorporate in this section your full legal name, applicable phone numbers, email, your current and permanent address. It is important to leave out nicknames and abbreviations especially with addresses. Also having your birth date and/or your General Medical Council registration number can alleviate any possible confusion.
- Education: Your education can be listed chronologically starting with the most recently completed. Experimenting with the order of information such as date completed, degree name, and the name of the institution to find a combination that works for you. Whatever order you choose, remember to be consistent throughout the document. This will help with readability.
- Work History: Remember to account for every year. Do not leave any gaps! Distinguishing between part-time and full-time helps with organization, and include any military service, volunteer service, teaching opportunities, or a leave of absence (give a brief explanation).
- Professional Affiliations & Honors: Whenever you get an award or honor, naturally you are going to want to show that off. The most important thing to remember when describing an entry here is to let the award speak for itself. Be descriptive, but keep it simple. No need to fluff it up or overstate it here.
- Certifications: Place any additional certifications or licenses for equipment or specialties as necessary. Adding the certification number can aid in the verification process. This can also be included as a subheading in work history as well.
- Publications: If there was any research you were a part of, be sure to include it. This is also a good place to include names of researchers you collaborated with. Chances are the hiring team has heard of them.
- Other miscellaneous info: This is a great place to include anything noteworthy that may not fit in a section above. Adding any extracurricular activities or hobbies can give the impression of a well-rounded individual. Listing such activities can help the reader get a sense of your personality, and help separate you from the herd.
- References: Unlike a resume, where you typically wait until asked for references, having them listed in a CV is completely normal. Remember to ask permission before listing them, and make sure those you choose can speak to your clinical skill and personality.
As stated when we first started, a CV is a more intensive version of the resume you may have typically used in the past. Usually running from two to four pages and providing extensive information on your educational, professional, and research background as well as current affiliations, certifications, teaching appointments, and references. The guide above will help get you started in creating a competent and well-organized CV that can help you make a good first impression for potential employers whether you’re writing your first CV or returning to it after 20 years in the medical profession.