What Makes a Good CV?


Whether for your first job after residency or a career change, here are some keys to getting your curriculum vitae noticed by employers.

Fam Pract Manag. 2016 Nov-Dec;23(6):7-9.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

Chief executive officers, medical directors, and physician recruiters have specific needs when looking to fill a position. My experience working with hospitals and health systems has helped me understand what they are looking for and the best ways a physician can use his or her curriculum vitae (CV) to make a favorable impression. The tips below and the sample CV will help you put your best foot forward.

Name and contact information. Getting this part of the CV right is not as simple as it seems. First, don't get too fancy with formatting. As with all of the sections of your CV, if you keep it clean, simple, and easy to read, recruiters and hiring physicians will thank you.

Be sure to list your specialty just under your name so that it is easily visible. A surprising number of physicians omit this detail and leave it to the reader to deduce from their education details. Make it easy for the reader.

Include a phone number at which you are easily reached, most likely your cell phone.

Email addresses can be a source of problems. Avoid using an email address tied to your current setting, such as a residency address, if there's a chance it will be disabled during your job search. Also, make sure your personal email address isn't too personal; reserve your “hotdoctor” email addresses for friends and family, not potential employers.

Education. List your education in reverse chronological order, starting with your residency or your fellowship. Formatting and spacing can make a big difference in how your CV flows and how easy it is to read. On the left side of the page include institutions, degrees, and locations. On the right side, list the dates. It is important to include the start and end dates using months and years. Whether you are coming straight out of residency or looking for a change many years into your career, potential employers are looking for gaps in your timeline. For instance, they are looking to see if you went straight into medical school after college and if you began practicing immediately after residency. If you are later in your career, they want to see if there have been interruptions in your employment. Gaps should be explained in your cover letter, which we will discuss later.

Licensure and certifications. State medical licenses and board certifications should be listed following your education. These qualifications are always at the top of a recruiter or hiring physician's list of questions.

Experience. Format this section the same way you formatted the section on education. It is not necessary to write long descriptions of your duties and responsibilities. You really only need the name of the employer, your title or position, the location, and the dates. If you had a career before medicine, list your previous employment under a separate heading. Your timeline should not extend beyond the first page, as it and the sections that precede it are the most important parts of your CV.

Other sections. You want to keep your CV as short as

About the Author

Tanja Getter is lead director for the residency education program for Community Health Systems in Franklin, Tenn.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.


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