Curriculum vitae & cover letter
Physician's Curriculum Vitae (CV)
In order to assess what your CV should contain and how that information should be displayed, you need to first understand the function of a CV. Put simply, a CV is a marketing tool. The biggest mistake that many people make when it comes to their CV's is that they simply list information without giving any thought to how relevant the information is, and what impact the information will have on the person reading it.
While your CV does contain facts about your academic and professional past, you need to make sure that you are assessing the relevance of each achievement rather than simply listing things as they happened. You want your CV to resonate with an employer in the way that an effective advertisement does with a consumer.
Because the process of becoming a licensed physician is highly regulated, most of your credentials will speak for themselves. Therefore, you won’t have to face many of the obstacles faced by people in other professions with regard to their resumes, such as explaining confusing professional backgrounds or re-shaping the focus of the experience to appeal to a different field. As such, your primary goal is to present those hard-earned credentials in a clear and concise manner, such that the reader can immediately zero in on the most important and impressive aspects of your candidacy.
You can make certain things in your CV stand out through their placement on the page, by using stylistic devices such as bolding or italicizing, and by monitoring the amount of information on your CV. Some people believe that a packed CV equals a good CV. This isn’t true. A candidate who pares down his/her CV to the most pertinent information will be much better off than a candidate who crams his/her CV full of irrelevant information.
The following is a list of the most common headings used on a physician’s CV. Before you begin drafting your CV, go through this list and jot down everything you can think of from your background that relates to each category (if applicable). Getting all of this information assembled ahead of time will make it easier to create a layout that maximizes your experience:
> Education (School Name, School Location, Degree Earned, Graduation Dates)
> Academic Honors/Activities/Leadership Positions
> Internships/Clinics/Residencies/Fellowships (Employer Name, Employer Location, Specialty Area, Dates)
> Practice Experience (Name of Practice/Hospital, Location, Title, Type of Practice, Brief Description)
> Specialty Area
> Professional Memberships
> Licensure/Board Certification
> Other Work Experience (Employer Name, Employer Location, Title, Dates of Employment, Brief Job Description)
> Professional Awards/Honors
> Language Skills
You want to present employers with a clear snapshot of your experience—one that can be grasped in a matter of seconds. In order to do this effectively, you should list your experiences in a reverse chronological order—from most recent to oldest—and include dates for your education and experiences. Job titles, names of degrees, names of schools, etc. should be clear at first glance.
As a practicing physician, you will want your CV to convey your achievements as well as provide a comprehensive summary of your academic and professional background. You’ve already gone through the rigorous steps of becoming a doctor; now you want to show employers what sets you apart from others who have done the same. Take some time to make a list of the top five things that you have accomplished in your work to date. Have you held leadership positions? Implemented new procedures? What have you done to make yourself a valuable commodity to the hospital or practice you’ve worked for? By highlighting what makes you unique, you will be one step ahead of the candidate who merely submits a list of positions.
To view a sample physician's CV, please click here.
While this article serves to highlight the primary things that you need to consider when creating or revising your CV, there are no hard and fast rules. Each situation is unique and therefore you need to spend some time considering what it is that you want to convey to the person reading your CV. BAC Medical Marketing is well-versed in the art of resume writing and can provide expert guidance to you throughout the process.
Physician's Cover Letter
The cover letter is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the application process. Some people disregard cover letters completely, and others put way too much emphasis on them. If you take a random sampling of cover letters submitted for jobs, you’ll find letters ranging from one sentence to three pages and containing vastly different types of information.
When it comes to a CV and cover letter packet, it is important to note that the CV is the more important document of the two. That said, there are several essential functions of a cover letter.
One might compare the relationship between a CV and cover letter to that of a novel and the blurb on a novel’s back cover. Here’s why:
> A novel doesn’t need a back cover to be considered good, and if the novel is strong enough, people will want to read it based on its reputation alone (this could equate to the reputation of your school or residency program).
> If someone is trying to decide between several similar novels, however, he/she might read the back cover in order to find something that draws him/her in. Similarly, a well-written cover letter could help set you apart from other applicants at your level.
> Sometimes during the reading of the novel, the reader will reference the back cover in order to clarify a relationship or to see what a major plot point is going to be. In this same vein, someone may turn to your cover letter while perusing your CV to look for further clarification of some of your experiences.
While the cover letter serves a valuable role, you want your CV to be able to stand on its own without a cover letter if need be. CV's are often passed along from person to person and, should the cover letter get lost along the way, you want all of the most relevant information about your candidacy to be on your CV.
At the same time, there are certain things that just cannot be communicated through the CV alone. These might include:
> Reasons for relocation;
> Reasons for choosing a certain specialty area or type of practice;
> Reasons for entering medicine from a prior career;
> Information about gaps or potentially misunderstood information on your resume;
> A further explanation of particularly unique or impressive qualifications; and/or
> A summary of your most relevant experience.
A cover letter should not simply offer a condensed version of what is already on your CV. If your CV is very straightforward and speaks for itself you should stick with a brief cover letter. You’d rather have someone focus the bulk of their attention on your CV than discard it because he/she was turned off by a lengthy and pointless letter. Likewise, if you feel that your CV is lacking in certain areas, you will want to try and compensate for that with a well thought out and well written cover letter.
To figure out what your cover letter should say, first write down any things you feel you need to communicate to the employer—things that he will not realize from simply perusing your CV. Then jot down the four most impressive aspects of your background with regard to the type of position you are seeking.
Once you have this information assembled, it boils down to writing. BAC Medical Marketing specializes in drafting concise and compelling cover letters that say exactly what you need to say in a manner that conveys intelligence and insight. Trust us to help you put your best foot forward.