FROM THE EDITOR

Tips for Writing Effective CVs and Cover Letters

 

Putting a little extra effort into these materials can help you make a good first impression with potential employers.

Fam Pract Manag. 2021 Sep-Oct;28(5):4-5.

Applying for jobs can be exciting — and stressful. Business experts recommend diligent attention to developing your resume or CV (curriculum vitae) and writing a cover letter as these are the first things that any future employer will see about you. The CV and cover letter are concise ways to share details about your skills and accomplishments. A good CV and cover letter do not get you the job, but they may make you more likely to get an interview. A CV is basically a list of your education, accomplishments, and specific skills. It is normally accompanied by a cover letter that tells potential employers more about you, what you are looking for in a new job, and why you are the right person for the job they have advertised.

CV TIPS

A CV for medical professionals includes several different sections. It should start with your full name and contact information. In the business world, most CVs include a concise, descriptive statement about your skills, but this is not always included on medical CVs.

The next section describes your education and training. Include your undergraduate degree, any graduate studies, medical school, residency, and fellowship. Extra training can be inserted here as well (for example, competency in obstetric ultrasound or colonoscopy, or extra training in evidence-based medicine or quality improvement).

The CV continues with descriptions of previous related jobs (it's OK to leave out your bartending stint in college), any presentations or publications, substantive committee work (e.g., if you chaired a committee, contributed to a significant change in practice, or spent a lot of time on a project), and relevant volunteer work. CVs feature very little narrative except to provide brief explanations where a bulleted list does not suffice.

Most physician employers are relatively conservative, so experts recommend using a simple font and limited color in your CV. Physician CVs can be as long as they need to be, but be careful to avoid including facts that are not relevant to medicine.

COVER LETTER TIPS

A cover letter allows you to expand on the bulleted list of accomplishments included in your CV. The cover letter is a place where you can be specific about why you are interested in a particular position and why your skills would be a good fit. While the CV lists all your accomplishments, the cover letter highlights unique skills that make you a good candidate for the job. It is important to do your homework, make sure you address the letter to the person doing the hiring, and demonstrate that you have read about the position and the organization by making specific statements about them.

Cover letters have three main components: 1) an introduction, 2) a short list of relevant work that highlights one or two positions or accomplishments, and 3) a conclusion. They should be no longer than one page. If you are applying for your first job out of residency, you can talk about the skills you have gained during your training and how they would be a good match for the job. You should write different cover letters for each job and not use a standard template. Each letter should include a specific detail about the particular practice, whether it is the patient population, the job description, or the location. You want to make sure the hiring manager knows that you are interested in that specific job.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Writing effective CVs and cover letters allows you to present yourself and your accomplishments in a professional and clear light. Putting a little extra time into these materials may make all the difference in getting the job you desire.

RESOURCES

To help you write an effective CV:

To help you write an effective cover letter:

 
 

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