You curriculum vitae or CV is more than just a list of accomplishments. It’s the story of your professional medical career. You worked hard to get here – too hard according to your mother – so, how are you going to tell your story? You have a choice. Is it going to look and read like a tabloid or Time magazine?
You don’t need a four-page docudrama to showcase your talent. What you do need is a polished and relevant CV, because carpe diem – another bit of Latin you might know. You won’t seize anything including that perfect job without a properly formatted and exquisitely informational CV.
Write a CV, Not a Resume
When is a CV not a CV? When it looks like a resume. There are distinct differences between a resume and that perfect curriculum vitae. A CV is a detailed and comprehensive summary of your accomplishments as a physician while a resume is basically a general and limited list of experiences and skill sets. Matt Green, Medical Publishing Director with BPP University School of Health, calls the medical CV a career road map that presents a personal history of everything from education to publication.
Resumes tend to have basic information while a CV is a comprehensive look at your entire career, education, and publishing history. Your CV should have a strong emphasis on the accomplishments that make you the best candidate for the role you want. You’ll want to outline your entire career, from starting school up until now. Be sure to include:
- Education: List when and where you earned the many degrees you want to show off.
- Honors and Awards: If you earned any scholarships, graduated magna cum laude, or received an award over the course of your education, be sure to highlight it.
- Leadership and Service: Were you the president of your school’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association? Great, list it. Do you volunteer at a medical clinic? Fantastic, list it. Even if you just participated in any student organizations, events, service projects, committees, or initiatives, include them in your CV.
- Research: If you participated in any research projects, include that on your CV. List the principal investigator or supervisor, the title of the research project, your role in the project, as well as when and where you participated.
- Publications and Presentations: Include any papers you’ve written, presentations you’ve given at any conferences or meetings, and any publications you’ve been a part of (including articles you’ve co-authored).
- Work Experience: Now, you don’t want to list your very first job as a dishwasher at the local fast food joint, but any medical work experience you’ve had should be included. Be sure to list your work experience in reverse chronological order!
This may seem like a lot of information to include, especially if you’re used to writing resumes. But a CV is meant to be totally comprehensive, a look at your entire story, not just the highlights. So, you want to list everything (yes, we mean everything.)
Make it Stand Out
Harsh and ugly has no place on the CV of a prestigious physician like yourself. Stick with a conservative font like Times New Roman or maybe a distinguished Garamond. Any font with the words “gothic” or “comic” in the title probably doesn’t belong on a professional document.
Once you pick a font, stay loyal. Changing the typeface family in different areas of the CV just looks chaotic – that’s the opposite of smooth, polished and easy to read.
But font choice alone isn’t going to make your CV stand out in a sea of physicians trying to steal your next job.
- Use quality paper preferably white, gray or cream colored
- Use Subject headers to segment the different information like education and publications
- Use bullet points when possible to make the CV scannable
- Don’t fear style elements like division lines that separate sections and italics to make accomplishments like staff positions and specializations pop
Tell Your Story Backwards
Medical CVs should list things in reverse chronological order. That makes sense because you are a better doctor now than you were right out of medical school, right? Physicians build on their careers, so showcase your most recent accomplishments first and go back in time.
Ohio State University recommends that students in medical school include information no further back than undergraduate education. Once you progress to a fellowship, however, go no further than your medical school information.
Keep It Consistent
The famous Purdue OWL says that parallelism makes for a strong CV. Keep the voice and POV consistent throughout the document. It is also better to avoid passive language when possible. A summary written actively is less likely to put the interviewer to sleep.
Make It Too Easy for Them
Your goal here is to make it clear you are the right physician for the job. While you want your comprehensive CV to show every accolade, experience, skill set, and paper, recruiters may not take the time to review every CV in detail. Your CV summary is a great way to capture, and keep, a recruiter’s attention. Writing a short paragraph that focuses on your most relevant, impressive accomplishments is a great starting place, but you also want to help whoever is looking at your resume to get a taste of your story that will make them want to read through your entire CV. It may take you four hours to write it, but you only get about two minutes (or less) to make a good impression.
Keep three things in mind when structuring the summary:
Make those two minutes count by highlighting the accomplishments that make you qualify for the position and avoid long wordy summaries full of fluffy language.
Who said moving on was easy? Nobody ever said that, but it can be better and more rewarding with the right CV in your hand. Let PhysEmp help you use your amazing new CV to find the next chapter in your career story by introducing you to your next role.