How to Write a Professional and Effective Curriculum Vitae

Creating a physician curriculum vitae (CV) is an important step for any physician seeking new opportunities. A CV is a document that allows you to list your education, training, professional experiences and qualifications, and more. A CV is typically the first glimpse into a physician that a hiring organization will see, so it is important that you create a CV that sends the message that you are a viable candidate.

One key piece to creating a CV is to keep your CV organized. Label each section with a header that makes sense for the information in that section. For instance, if you have a section called "Education" it does not make sense to include work information in this section. Make sure that each header clearly lays out what information is featured there. Many organizations will have recruiters who read through the CV, so you want to make sure that the information is easy to find.

Every section of your CV should be easy to read and formatted the same throughout your entire CV. Make sure that if you are using bullet points in your job descriptions that you do that throughout the entire CV. It can make your CV look disheveled if some pertinent information is in a paragraph format and some are in bullet point format. The same rings true for section headers and subheaders. You want to make sure that you are formatting each section header or subheader the same to make it easier to find the information. This means that if you have decided to bold headers, capitalize all the letters, use underline, or any other variation that you need to be consistent throughout your entire CV. It is very easy to forget what you have previously decided on, so double-check your sections to make sure that every section is formatted the same before saving.

When it comes to deciding on a font type, style, or size that you need to choose a font that is easy to read. There is no set rule excluding certain colors or fonts, but a good rule of thumb is if I was looking at this information would I want to read it? Keep in mind that a unique font or font color may look cool, but it can make it difficult to read. Stick to dark colors like black or navy to help make sure that the font shows up. Light colors may look easy to read to you, but it could raise an issue when someone else is reading your CV, or if they try to scan your CV. The same goes for font type, it should be something that is easy to read like Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman. Even though this may not be flashy, it is a great way to ensure that your CV is readable by whoever receives it. Font size should range between 10– and 12–point font.

Your CV is a representation of you, so make sure that not only is it organized, but also grammatically correct. As you are creating your CV, make sure to take advantage of spell–check. This will help point out some possible spelling errors, as well as catch grammatical issues. Why is this important? Because I have reviewed multiple CVs with the specialty spelled incorrectly, and even the words doctor and physician. This may just be a slip-up while typing, but this can be a signal to recruiters that you may not be paying special attention to the information you are producing. So, to avoid sending a negative signal to your potential employer, make sure to use spell-check. You can also reach out to services like PracticePath, that offer free CV reviews. This is a free service provided to physicians, and it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes to review your CV for any inaccuracies.

Information in your CV should not only be organized but also formatted the same throughout the entire document. This means that if you are talking about ongoing jobs, research, etc. that you are using the same verb tenses throughout. It is easy to start one page as present tense, some in past tenses, and others a mixture. This can become sloppy or confusing if your information is not listed with clear dates. Check each section to make sure that the verb tenses are consistent throughout your entire CV.

Another key piece to keeping information organized in your CV is to list dates. Items on your CV, like education, training, work experience, and research all have specific dates associated with them. Make sure that you are not leaving out that information. For items like work experience, you want to list out the dates in MM/YYYY – MM/YYYY or MM/YYYY – Present. This gives those reading your CV a better understanding of the date ranges you were employed. You should also put the information in each section of your CV in reverse chronological order based on the start date. This will help keep the information organized and orderly. This will also help you out during the credentialing process because you will not be delayed in looking up information on dates.

When creating your CV, remember that length is important. This does not mean that the longer the CV the better, but it does mean that keeping your CV readable is important. A CV is typically anywhere between 1 and 5 pages depending on your experiences. If you are a resident or fellow, your CV is going to be shorter than a physician who has been practicing for 20 years. As you are creating your CV, if you notice that your CV is lengthy it may be because of your descriptions. You do not need to include an abundance of information on your training program, the hospital you currently work for, or your future interests. Remember, your CV is getting read by a human, so, if each job description is a page long, it can become cumbersome to read through. Avoid listing every detail of your position, and instead, focus on the key factors that are relevant to the opportunity you are applying for. This will help keep your CV focused in on the opportunity. You also do not need to include the history of the hospital or program on your CV. It can be tempting to tout how great your program is, but remember, your CV is about you.

Keep your CV relevant to the opportunity you are applying for. Make sure that the information is not outdated, and that the descriptions reflect your experiences that are relevant to the opportunity you are applying to. This means information like high school education, birth date, blood type, volunteer projects you did in high school, etc. – do not need to be included in your CV. Also, keep in mind that there are questions that a recruiter or other human resources member cannot ask you during the interview. There are some organizations that cannot accept CVs if they have a headshot, birthdate, gender, or any other distinguishing factors that could be counted as discrimination. You also do not need to include your spouse's or children's personal information. If there is an issue like your spouse's employment or schools nearby to accommodate your children, these are topics that should be brought up outside of your CV during the interview.

You do not need to include a title or title page stating that this is indeed your CV. This just wastes space on your CV for other information that could be included. Instead of a title page, simply move your name to the top of your CV on the first page. You also do not need to include your full contact information on every page. Instead, create a header or footer with your last name to appear on each page. Page numbers are not required for your CV, but they also will not hurt. If you choose to add page numbers to your CV simply format as LAST NAME, #.

Another item you do not need to include in your CV is your personal or professional references. If you are a viable candidate for the organization, they will ask you for a list of your references. This gives you a better timeline of if/when they will reach out to your references and gives you a chance to speak with your references. This gives you the ability to let your references know when to expect a call, which opportunity this will be about and if there are key items they should focus on during the call. This also helps to prevent your reference from feeling blind-sided with the call. You also do not need to put, "References Available Upon Request" because once again, if you are a good candidate for the opportunity, they will reach out to you about getting your references.

You need to include good contact information for yourself on your CV. Ensure that the email address or phone number that you have listed is one that you utilize or check often. Do not list an old landline number that you don't use but have because of a bundle with your provider. Instead, list a phone number you are comfortable having recruiters reach out to. The same goes for email addresses. If you do not want recruitment emails to go to a personal email address that you have had for years, go to a free email service site like Google or Yahoo to create an email address specific to recruitment. Also, consider creating a new email if your email address is not as professional as you'd like it to be. For instance, if your email is this may have recruiters raising eyebrows. Instead, opt for something like This will also help when recruiters are searching their inbox for an email from you. If you have started to apply for opportunities and you are not already in the habit of checking your email listed on your CV, set a weekly calendar reminder to check and respond to emails. This will help you avoid missing an important email about the opportunity.

Education information should include your undergraduate education, medical school, and any postgraduate education. Make sure to list the school or university attended, the degree awarded, and the graduation year. Just like other sections of your CV, you want to list this in reverse chronological order based on the completion date. So if you have completed an MBA or Ph.D. program after medical school, that would be listed before medical school education.

When listing out job history, make sure that you are focusing on the information that matters. Make sure to include: organization name, position title, location (city, state or country if completed internationally), dates, and a brief description. You do not need to include the supervisor, the full address, the history of the hospital, or a description of the area. Having irrelevant information listed in your job description may distract from the relevant information. Also, make sure that your job history is listed in reverse chronological order. This means that you should list the job with the most recent start date (based on month and year) to the least recent start date.

If you are a Locum Tenens physician or researcher, there is a chance that you will have large sections in your CV. If you notice that your employment history or publications start to span across a few pages, you can opt to list "Select Locum Tenens History" or "Select Publications" to help keep your CV length reasonable. Choose the information that is most recent or that is most relevant to the opportunity you are applying to. This does not mean that the other information is not important but helps to keep your CV at a manageable length, so keep all of the information in a separate document that you are able to send over when requested.

Items to Include Items to Exclude
Full name Anything prior to undergraduate
Good contact information Spouse or children's information
Education Long paragraphs
Relevant work history Information not relevant to the opportunity
Licensure and certifications
Professional organizations

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