How to craft a great CV

How to craft a great CV

Keep it brief and bump up the font

October 2017

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY to structure a physician CV? Countless articles give advice on CV font size, organization and more, but that advice doesn’t always apply to doctors.

To get an insider’s view of what a physician CV should look like, we spoke to Butch Powley, a health care recruiter with more than 20 years in the industry and CEO of Superior Healthcare Sourcing, a company that connects health care recruiters with physicians. Mr. Powley’s main advice? Make your CV organized and brief.

That’s because health care recruiters typically review 200 or more CVs for every open position they need to fill. Recruiters know they need someone in a certain specialty, and they likely have guidelines for how much experience they’re looking for in the position (new graduates vs. doctor’s with 10 years of experience, for example).

“If I have to really work to read a CV, it’s going into the ‘other’ pile.”

Powley~ Butch Powley
Superior Healthcare Sourcing

“The recruiter doesn’t need to look at the whole CV before realizing that you’re not qualified because of the medical school you attended or because you don’t have enough experience,” says Mr. Powley.

To make sure yours gets the attention of recruiters sifting through piles of CVs, Mr. Powley gives these fine-tuning tips.

• Don’t use a small font. Most people reviewing CVs look at hundreds of them every day.
“Sometimes CV fonts are so small, you have to squint to read them,” he points out. “If I have to really work to read a CV, it’s going into the ‘other’ pile. I don’t want to have to work that hard to read it.” His suggestion: Start with a font that’s 12 points or even larger.

• Make it easy to find your contact information. Put your name at the top of your CV. Then right under your name, list your phone number and then your e-mail address, “preferably all in a larger font. That way, I know exactly where to look and how to get ahold of you,” Mr. Powley points out. “I recently saw one CV that provided no cell phone number, no e-mail address and no mailing address. The physician listed a home number and that was it.”

Instead, make it really easy to find your contact information. “I’m looking at a CV that has the physician’s name on the right side. The name appears in an easy-to-read, bold font, which is good. But the contact information is on the left side of the page, not with the name, and the font is much smaller and not bold. All the contact information should be in the middle and in one place.” By putting your name and contact information right in the middle of the page, “I can see it all at once without having to go looking for it.”

• Start with education, and only education. From Mr. Powley’s perspective (and from his years talking to other recruiters), “the first thing most people want to see after your name and contact information is your educational background. If you want to include your undergraduate school, that’s great, but it’s not necessary, because we can assume that you received an undergraduate degree if you went to medical school.”

If you went to an Ivy League school, “and you graduated cum laude, include that,” he adds. “But we really need to see where you went to medical school and where you completed your residency. If you went to school outside the U.S., put that it in, but then follow that with where you did your residency or internship in the U.S.”

Put your educational experience in chronological order, with the most recent experience at the top. But don’t include other activities like work history or other experience in the education section. “Some people will put all of their experience in chronological order, even if it’s not related to their medical training,” Mr. Powley says. “In one CV I’m looking at, the physician lists a part of his education, then some employment history, then more education and then his licensing.”

If you worked between medical school and residency, “don’t include all that in the education section. It’s good to include those activities, but list them instead under your work experience, not in education. I want to be able to see all of your educational activities in one section, with nothing else mixed in.”

After education comes experience, he points out. “It should go from present to past. State where you’ve worked, when you started and when you ended.”

• Keep it brief. Your CV should be only a couple of pages, Mr. Powley advises.

“If you’re looking to work as a hospitalist, for example, everyone knows what a hospitalist does, so you don’t have to include long paragraphs about what you’re doing,” he says. “You can say that you worked as a hospitalist at a health care system from June 2016 to June 2017. Save the other details for when you’re talking to an interviewer.”

CV length, however, will vary somewhat by the type of position you’re interested in. “If you’re looking for an academic position, for example, you want to include all your publications. But if you’re applying for a clinical position, list a couple of those publications, then say, ‘More publications available upon request.’ ”

Even for academic CVs, he adds, list your publications, but don’t include reprints of them. “I’ve seen some people include all or parts of their individual publications on their CV. You shouldn’t have a 15-page CV.”

The same thing goes for honors and awards. “Practices looking for clinicians don’t need a full list of your awards and honors,” says Mr. Powley. “They want to know what you did clinically. You might want to impress people with your achievements, but most of the time you have recruiters, not doctors, reviewing your CV first.”

If CVs pass that initial muster and recruits look like they could be a good fit for the position being advertised, “then I’ll probably give them a call,” he explains. “At that point, I may ask for an expanded CV that does include awards that I can then pass along to the physicians who are hiring.”

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