Designing a CV or résumé is a deceptively difficult task. In theory, it seems easy to give a straightforward chronicle of your career so far. In reality, it’s very difficult to design a piece of paper that, in about 30 seconds, accurately depicts what you’ve done so far, who you are, and what benefit you might offer an organization.
HOW TO FORMAT
While you’re agonizing over word choices and the order of your headings, here are a few pointers from professional career coaches.
1. Keep your formatting clean and open, with lots of white space. Resist the temptation to cram your CV with lots of tiny type. In this case, less can be more.
2. Push your dates to the right side, not the left. You don’t want your CV to look like a list of dates. Make sure your title and/or organization is the first thing the reader sees.
3. Under your headings, list your most recent activities first.
4. Go easy on the creative fonts. Stick with a simple, professional font like Times New Roman.
5. Have it proofread—several times. There should be absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes.
6. Save the document as a PDF and a Word file. Almost everybody can read a Word file or PDF, and both are easy to email, should the need arise.
WHAT TO INCLUDE
A CV is a long-format document that contains a full history of your credentials and achievements, including your education, professional background, and even personal and cultural activities that help define you. Once your CV is finished, most physicians update their CVs every few years, and of course, any time they are job hunting.
As you’re confronting your CV, it’s helpful to know what “typical” headings look like. It’s not essential to include all of these—only include headings in which you have something substantive to add.
Outside of a few broadly accepted rules—your contact information goes at the top, for example—there are few hard and fast rules for the order of your information.
Some experts recommend putting your education before your clinical experience, while others recommend listing your clinical experience first. As always, it comes down to your level of experience and your target audience.
SAMPLE HEADINGS TO INCLUDE
• Contact and personal information: This should be the first thing on the page. Include your name, address and contact information. If you have a LinkedIn profile or personal web page, you can include the URL here.
• Objective: This line is somewhat controversial among career coaches. Some love it, some hate it. If you include an objective section, keep it limited to one or two sentences and make sure it’s tailored to your prospective organization. Consider putting the objective part in your cover letter—especially if it’s not entirely obvious how you fit with the facility. (For example, an internal medicine physician applying for a hospitalist job.)
• Education: Include the name of your school, graduation date, and area of study. It’s not necessary to include individual coursework.
• Academic honors: Many CVs include a line for academic honors just under the education section. This would include honors such as magna cum laude or positions of student leadership.
• Board certification, specialty and licenses: List the specialty in which you’re board certified (and when), and the states in which you’re licensed.
• Internships/residencies/ fellowships: Keep this section relatively basic, listing the institution, location and your specialty. Do include positions of leadership, if possible.
• Volunteer experience: This can be especially valuable for residents just starting out who don’t have much clinical experience. If you have extensive volunteer experience, consider breaking this into one section for medical volunteering and one for nonmedical volunteering.
• Clinical experience: In chronological order from most to least recent, include the practices and/or hospitals where you’ve worked, including a brief description of the facility, your responsibilities, and the dates you worked there.
• Publications and presentations: Include any publications you’ve written or co-authored. This includes articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in textbooks and even consumer-related media. Presentations at conferences should also be mentioned.
• Professional memberships: Include relevant societies and organizations.
• Awards and honors: This list should include any professional recognition you have received outside of school.
• Cultural activities and personal interests. If you’re very involved in a charity or cultural institution, include this.