Is your CV working?

Published on: Oct 6, 2017


After graduating from medical school, you may assume that you’ll be able to walk into a job at practically any medical facility in the country. After all, the world needs qualified doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, getting the job that you want in medicine can often be as difficult as getting into medical school in the first place. Hundreds of candidates, all likely as qualified as you, are applying. For less specialized roles, the competition can be much more intense. Often, the only chance candidates have at getting a foot in the door is their CV. And because most candidates have received the same level of education and work experience, the smallest thing can make a difference.  Research shows you only have 6.25 seconds to impress an employer—you better make those seconds count. With that in mind, is your CV working?

Is everything present and correct?

The biggest mistake you can make on your CV is not including all of your relevant information. At the same time, be careful not to overdo it. In most instances, a two- to four-page CV is enough. However, experienced academics would usually have longer CVs because of the nature of their jobs. There aren’t strict rules to the structure of your CV as accepted practices. Your name, your education, and details of your current and previous positions are by far the most important. According to Ladders, employers focus the majority (80%) of the initial six seconds on these areas.

For residents or new physicians who do not have much work experience yet, the most emphasized category in your CV should be your medical education. Include the name of your medical school, the city and state or country where it is located, your degree, and year of completion. For your list of internships, residencies, and fellowships, include your area of specialization, the facility, and its location, as well as the year of completion. Also, highlight academic or other achievements. Below is a breakdown of everything a thorough medical CV should cover:

  • Education

  • Training

  • Internship

  • Residency

  • Fellowship

  • Practice

  • Academic Distinctions/Leadership Positions

  • Research

  • Practice Experience (distinguish categories like management, direct care, hospital-based, etc.)

  • Publications

  • Presentations

  • Professional Memberships

  • Board Certification (list boards and national examinations that you have taken)

  • Licensure (list down the states where you have a license to practice medicine)

  • Other Relevant Work Experience

  • Professional Honors/Distinctions

  • Other Relevant Specialized Skills

Aside from having all of the correct information, you must also make sure that your CV is well-structured and accurate. It is important that you don’t embellish because chances are it will be spotted quickly. The Society for Human Resource Management found that 60% of HR professionals discover “inaccuracies” in the resumes they review.

Does it pass a quick scan?

Often a quick scan is all your CV receives. It has to cut the mustard in this respect. CompHealth has an excellent guide to making sure your CV stands out within 15 seconds. The key points are making sure that your CV:

  • Aligns with the skills and experience the job requires

  • Includes all of the key information employers look for: education, board certification, work history, career history, timelines

  • Is easy on the eyes

  • Is error-free

If your CV looks good at first pass, you can then start analyzing it in detail.

Is it free from typos or errors?

As a medical professional, you need to be meticulous in your attention to detail. In our world, one small error can have significant, often harmful consequences. An error or typo on your CV isn’t a good start. In a survey of 150 executives by Accountemps, 40% said one typo was enough to rule a candidate out.

When you’ve spent so long polishing your CV, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. Typos aren’t immediately obvious. The key, therefore, is to have someone look over your CV for you. Better yet, find a healthcare professional or someone who has experience recruiting employees to take a look at your CV. They will be able to offer a level of insight your friends or family can’t.

Does your CV come with a cover letter?

Some physicians looking for a practice opportunity might think that a cover letter isn’t important. More often than not, however, a cover letter will differentiate you from other people who applied for the position. While all CVs can look and read the same, a cover letter is a chance to stand out and be different. You might be the only candidate to include one at all.

Craig Fowler, former president of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR), stresses the important role a cover letter can play. He believes eight out of ten candidates who express interest in a role don’t include a cover letter with their CV. It can really be a differentiator between getting the interview and getting passed over for consideration.

A cover letter is the best way to show your future employer that you have researched the position and the organization before you applied. Where your CV will show you are qualified, a cover letter can describe why you want the role, what you like about it and why you should be considered.

Don’t overdo it, however. A single-page, three-paragraph cover letter is recommended. Use simple language and a professional, business letter layout.

Ideally, the first paragraph should include a self-introduction and should state why you are writing. The second paragraph should provide the reasons behind your interest in the opportunity, why you like the position and why you want to work for that organization. In the third and last paragraph, thank the recipient for reviewing your application and conclude the letter by saying that you look forward to hearing from the recipient soon.

Underestimating the importance of your CV and not giving it the time and attention it deserves is as bad as not having one at all. As the first thing recruiters and healthcare HR professionals read about you, make sure they are impressed.

We hope these tips will help your CV catch a recruiter’s eye.