Top Red Flags for Physician CVs: Why You’re Not Getting Contacted

You’ve been searching for your first (or next) physician job—whether a family practice job, an internal medicine position, a pulmonary-critical care opportunity, or any other type of position—and you’ve finally found the perfect listing. So you polish up your resume and send it out. Weeks later, you still haven’t had a bite. What gives?

If you’re highly qualified and a great candidate for the position, chances are something in your CV has raised a red flag. According to the 2014 In-House Physician Recruitment Processes Report released by the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR), it’s probably one of the six following things. They are, in order of importance:

Lack of Board Certification

This is by far the highest disqualifying factor in a physician CV, according to the “Disqualifying Factors During CV Review” chart on page 6 of ASPR’s 2014 In-House Physician Recruitment Processes Report. These days, advances in technology are changing quickly, along with best practices for diagnostics and treatment. A physician who is board certified displays that he or she not only holds exceptional expertise in a specific specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice, but has also made a voluntary, lifelong commitment to staying abreast of the latest medical advances and patient safety policies.

Recruiters are looking for top candidates who are committed to creating a responsive, patient-centric environment. If you’re not board certified, you might be perceived as less committed to the highest standards of your practice. Our advice? If you want to be taken seriously, get board certified.

High Number of Job Changes

No one wants to hire a job-hopper. Hospitals are looking for committed candidates who will help to create an environment of continuity and stability—for their patients and their colleagues. Constant turnover creates disruptions in workflow and patient care, not to mention it can get extremely expensive. If your CV reflects multiple job changes within a relatively short period of time—even if it wasn’t your fault—you might be labeled as a job-hopper.

While you really can’t change the facts of your job history, if you have a high number of job changes in your CV, be sure to emphasize your accomplishments and list praise from co-workers. You can also mention your flexibility and adaptability in adjusting to new technology, protocol, and position requirements.

Significant Time Gaps in CV

When there is a significant hole in your CV, it raises a lot of questions among recruiters. “Does this person have substance-abuse issues?”, “Is he or she lazy?”, “Was this person in prison during that time?” are some of the assumptions that can come up when you have significant gaps in your career history. In any case, there will be a big question in the recruiter’s mind, and if you are called for an interview, you’ll want to be sure you can explain your absence truthfully and in a way that plays up the positives. If, for instance, you used your time off to upgrade your education, this will show a commitment to your career. And if you did volunteer work during that time, it certainly speaks well of your character.

Excessive Spelling Errors

It doesn’t matter if you’ve completed four years of medical school, done a three-year residency, and passed your board-certification exam. If your resume features spelling mistakes or typos, you’re not going to be taken seriously. Recruiters are looking for physicians who can be relied upon to do their work thoroughly and without error. Spelling mistakes and typos make you appear lazy and as though you’re not all that invested in getting the job.

Residency Change or Gaps in Training

Your CV might also be dismissed if it shows that you made a residency change or have gaps in your training. Hospitals are seeking physicians they can count on, not someone who may pack up and change positions soon. Physician recruitment is a long process, and no one wants to invest time, money, and energy in someone who’s going to be gone in a few months. There may have been a very valid reason for the gap—whether a family illness or some other crisis. Nonetheless, it’s a potential red flag for recruiters. If you are given an interview, be sure to have your honest explanation at the ready.

Poor CV Formatting

If you can’t be bothered to proof your CV and format it correctly, what does that say about your professional ethic? Will you cut corners on the job as a physician? Chances are, this is the conclusion recruiters will reach if your CV looks sloppy. You’re confident about your skills and accomplishments, so be sure to take pride in your CV presentation as well. Think of it as that all-important first handshake. Be sure you make a good first impression.

And if your CV does, in fact, lead to an interview, here are our Top 5 Interviewing Dos for Physicians to keep in mind on the big day. Best of luck!

Reference: Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR)’s 2014 In-House Physician Recruitment Processes Report, page 6, “Disqualifying Factors During CV Review” chart.