The purpose of a good resume or curriculum vitae is to get you an interview with the organization you are keen on joining. For most other professions, especially if the applicant is just starting out, it is advisable to have a 1-page resume or a 2- to 3- page CV. This limit, however, doesn’t apply to medical professionals who are just starting out on their health service careers.
If it’s your first time to write a CV, or if you’ve been in a stable position in the health services for so long that you’ve forgotten how to write one, here are the main portions of your standard CV.
1. The first part is your name and contact number. This portion should include your personal email address, cellphone number, and home address. If you are able to receive calls in your place of business, then you can include the number here, too. This part should give your interviewers a concise list of contact details that they can use to inform you that you’ve been scheduled for an interview.
2. The second and third parts of your CV depend on a number of factors: the position you are applying for, the number of years you are in service, or if you’re fresh out of residency. The second portion of your CV should highlight accomplishments that make you a suitable candidate for the position you want to get. If it’s been awhile, you should think about using a resume creation service to help you best point attention to the most important bits of your resume that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Use start and stop dates when you chronologically list your work experience, education, or academic publications.
3. Whichever didn’t make it to the second part can be included in the third part. This section might include a lot of seemingly random details, so make it a goal to keep this part organized. Use sub-sections and start and stop dates, just like in the second section. In fact, it is a good idea to keep a consistent formatting to avoid distracting your readers. In addition to other pertinent health service-oriented details, this portion can include career milestones such as speaking in conventions, media appearances, interviews, and membership to community organizations.
4. Last is the references section. Veteran health professionals who have spent more than a decade or 2 in their respective specializations can skip this part entirely. Simply provide them with your colleagues’ names and contact details later in the application process. If you’re still starting out, you can put 4 to 5 references that can vouch for your skills.
Note, though, that some details can catch your employers eye — but not in a good way. Here are ways to address these common CV hotspots:
- Recent job hopping – There are many valid reasons for taking up short-term assignments. However, these may raise a red flag and your prospective employers will want to know if your short employment stints were caused by poor performance, behavioral problems, or inability to adapt to your working environment. Show your employers that you have good decision-making skills by pointing out that each job change comes with a better position and more challenging work.
- Work gaps – Just like job hopping, work gaps will probably require a bit of explanation. Simply be upfront about it. Include the work gap in your CV and write a very short reason for it. Let your potential interviewers know if you’ve taken a break to care for an ailing family member, to go backpacking before you commit to full time medical practice, or if you applied for a fellowship late and ran out of slots. It’s better to bring it up early than make them think that you’re hoping that they won’t notice the gap.
- Offshore medical schools – While there are many estimable medical schools outside the US, the presence of these offshore medical schools in your CV might still be a cause of concern for the screening committee. Turn this supposedly weak detail to your favor by adding information that shows that that school is a reputable establishment. It will also help if you let the screening body know that you’ve achieved a distinction during your time in school, such as becoming the chief resident.
- Grammatical and spelling errors – ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is an old adage that can also be applied to grammatical and spelling errors in your CV. There’s really no way to get around this one so proofread very carefully. Send your future employers a proof of how meticulous and detail-oriented you can be when necessary.
Always remember that the goal of your CV is to present you as a health professional in a most appealing manner, so much that the CV screeners will want to see you in person and ask you about yourself and the work that you do in detail. With this in mind, do your best to look great in paper, but always be sure that you can back up on every word you put in your CV.