A compelling CV is certainly the harbinger of a dream job. Resume professional and author Susan Ireland, says a CV “can serve as a magnet to draw job opportunities to you”. It is well known that most recruiters on an average spend less than 10 secs browsing through a CV to shortlist top applicants. Therefore, putting together a succinct CV that stands out surely gets you a step closer to securing the job. Here are some important elements to focus, to create a good CV:
1 – Length of the CV
Medical CVs are notoriously long because the nature of the profession imposes that you should list all your skills, courses, presentations, research and publications. However, size is not everything. Content is what matters. Be thorough but concise in your descriptions. Do not fill your CV with unnecessary words just to make it longer. It will reflect badly on your ability to express yourself in a clear and concise manner.
2 – The first two pages
The first two pages will make the biggest impression on the recruiter. They therefore deserve particular attention.
- Do not fill-up most of the first page with personal details. Your name, address and various contact details should be able to fit at the top of the first page over 4 or 5 lines (like headed paper). At a push, no more than one-third of the front page should be taken by personal details.
- Stick to the essentials. For example, there is no need to mention your Hep B immunisation status (as some people do). Your status will be checked when you start your new job. If you are not immunised, Occupational Health will soon sort that out.
- Having a short Personal Details section on the front page will ensure that you start describing your education and current employment on the first page or the beginning of the second page, where they are most accessible.
3 – General CV Format
The format for a medical CV is generally as follows:
- PERSONAL DETAILS
- Date of birth
- Telephone number (2 numbers maximum)
- Email address – avoid casual addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com [Yes, some people do put these on their CVs …]
- Medical Reg. number
- CAREER AIM
- This should be no more than a few lines. No recruiter will read beyond that length. Instead they will seek to explore this area further during the interview.
- This section (provided it is short and to the point) is best placed at the front of the CV as the content constitutes an important part of your motivation to apply for the job.
- QUALIFICATIONS (& PRIZES)
- List your qualifications in reverse chronological order
- List relevant dates and place of study
- List qualifications you are currently studying for (e.g. FRANZCP/FRACGP)
- CURRENT APPOINTMENT & PAST APPOINTMENTS
- For these two sections, try to avoid the format whereby appointments are summarised in a header table and then developed later in the CV in individual sections. It makes the reading of the CV tiring.
- List each job in reverse chronological order, including the relevant dates and hospital names & locations. For each job, list the relevant experience, skills and procedures that you have learned.
- Use bullet points, not sentences. Interviewers will be able to pick out the essential much more efficiently.
- Remember to list all your skills, not just clinical. Your management and teaching experience is just as important.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid personal statements such as “I really enjoyed this post because it gave me the opportunity to … etc”. The CV is designed to present facts. Its role is two-fold: to get you short-listed and to provide talking points for the interview. Keep your personal statements until the interview, where you will be able to use them most effectively.
- TEACHING / MANAGERIAL EXPERIENCE – Be sure to include them if you have relevant content.
- List all relevant courses.
- Indicate the dates (month and year is enough) & the duration of the courses.
- List all relevant meetings and conferences, together with a short description of the content
- Avoid casual meeting (e.g. bonding exercises , etc) unless your CV demonstrate clearly that it has some relevance to your experience.
- Make sure you are telling the entire truth (including your ranking on the authors list). Interviewers have been known to check the database in front of candidates at the interview.
- List the title, authors and relevant dates together with a 1-2 line summary of the content (unless the title is as explicit as possible)
- List the title, authors and relevant dates.
- RESEARCH PROJECTS
- Quote the title of your research and provide a short description of your activities in bullet points format
- COMPUTER AND LANGUAGE SKILLS
- Include all relevant software e.g. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, Internet etc, as well as medical-specific software
- By any means state the languages that you can speak if in small number as well as your degree of fluency (e.g. German – basic, French – conversational).
- If you speak several dialects due to your ethnic origin, it is best to place them under an umbrella definition (e.g. fluent in 7 Indian dialects) rather than listing them all separately.
- PERSONAL INTERESTS
- Strike the right balance between group activities and lonely activities
- “Having fun” is not a personal interest as far as CVs are concerned.
- This section can be used for information in which you feel the interviewer may have an interest but that does not have major importance as far as your eligibility for the job is concerned (e.g. driving licence, marital status, etc). You should keep this section to the bare minimum.
- No more than three unless otherwise requested.
4 – Should you include a paragraph at the beginning summarising who you are?
Although this is common practice at executive level in normal business CVs, it is not a developed practice in the medical profession. In order to ensure objectivity, the medical profession is moving gradually towards standardised formats (hence the increasing popularity of application forms).
Getting the CV right can be a crucial part of one’s job search. Create your perfect CV and brighten up your job prospects.