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Medical cv writing doesn’t need to be a hard slog. Follow a formula that works and it’s much easier.

Firstly, it is good practise to get into the habit of documenting your medical experience right from the early days of being a medical student. Ensure you keep notes of your experience, achievements and career highlights. That way, it is much easier to collate all the essential information into an up-to-date, current medical CV. By getting into this habit early, it also makes interview preparation much easier to crystallise your thoughts. Also it helps you to formulate strong examples from your career.

Think of medical CV writing as an ongoing process and your CV as a shop window. It is the first opportunity you have to ‘sell’ your yourself. (This is a trait that I have observed doesn’t come easily to most doctors!) It needs to grab the attention of the reader within the first few seconds and stand out from other CVs. Yet many are overlong, drab and read like directories of factual information which is actually a turn-off to most employers.

If medical CV writing feels like a mammoth task and you have a job interview coming up, the following tips can help you:

A formula for medical cv writing

Tailor it

Although it may be tempting to simply cut and paste your CV to an application for a post, it is certainly not recommended. You should give yourself time when it comes to medical CV writing to ensure each application is tailored.

Consider the requirements of the employer as a starting point and create your CV around the skills and qualifications outlined. Tailor your CV to highlight those requirements so that you can demonstrate you are a close fit for the role.

This is too often over-looked but it’s an essential part of good medical CV writing that should be carried out in the planning stage. This will ensure you have captured all the essential criteria required. Ideally, some from the desirable section too.

Structure and layout

Generally, medical CVs will be longer than standard non-medical CVs. It is widely recommended that standard CVs are not longer than two pages, but that is rare for medical CVs.

A CV should begin with a strong profile section followed by clear subject headings which follow a logical order which is relevant to the position.  Typically; Qualifications, Career Summary (current position first followed by previous posts in chronological order). Then Clinical Experience (headed up into specific areas outlined in the job role). Following this should be Quality Improvement (including Audit and outcomes). This should then be followed with Management, Teaching, Research, Publications, Conferences & Presentations, Skills & Interests.

Highlight your experience.

Highlighting clinical capabilities is a main feature of any doctor’s CV. In the case of consultants, you should include what sets you apart from others in your field. This might be whether you have trained in a specialist fellowship position abroad or carried out international aid work and gained particularly relevant skills. Or any other specific clinical experience that gives you the edge.

Avoid giving too much detail about the many conferences and courses you have been to. Try to find a way of neatly putting this into a section without it being too onerous for the reader. Ask yourself “What is the benefit of an endless list? What am I saying to the employer?” If anything, this can go against you, as it can look like your CV is lacking in strategy.

Think about how your experience in quality improvement made a difference. This could include examples of improving patient safety, such as an audit or a service that has enhanced patient care. You don’t need to list each and every project you have carried out throughout your career. Instead, try to highlight the most recent or most relevant project to the job specification.

Keep it simple

Bear in mind that when dealing with applications, employers may not have much time to review your CV. Think about the aesthetic look of your CV to capture their attention at a glance. It can improve the look and help with readability to mark section headings with a subtle highlight, such as grey or pale blue.

Ensure consistency throughout and stick to a standard type font eg. Arial, Cambria, Calibri or Times New Roman. Use size 10-12 for the main text and a slightly larger font for headings.

Try to avoid long paragraphs with large chunks of text which can be difficult to read and use bullet points instead. Start each one with a power verb eg. managed, designed, created, saved, implemented, etc …

Do also make sure you check for spelling and grammatical mistakes. It might be helpful to have someone else look over it for you.

List outside interests

It’s worth including outside interests in your CV, especially those you are really proud of or that demonstrate an interesting skill. This can be anything from exercise, practising mindfulness, less common travel destinations, foreign languages spoken, musical instruments played. This shows a well-rounded individual who has interests outside medicine and is less likely to get burnt out. Often people are concerned it isn’t relevant, but I think it’s an significant area to mention when it comes to medical CV writing. 

Address gaps

Your CV not only highlights your achievements, but also the gaps in knowledge and experience you need to fill. Demonstrate any courses you are currently undertaking to fill those gaps. If you’ve taken maternity leave, simply write a couple of lines to explain that you’ve take this time out of training.

Keep up to date

All clinicians should regularly review their CV to keep up-to-date, at least on an annual basis. A useful suggestion might be to do this alongside your appraisal or updating your e-portfolio. Some roles are advertised with quite short notice to apply for them so you’ll want your CV fairly current at all times. People often underestimate how much time it takes to write it.

As you go through your career, you will want to remove any unnecessary out-dated information. Aim to cover around five years of clinical experience. But keep a note of previous experience somewhere else in case some of it is relevant for future applications.

If you would like to have your CV written for you or feel you would benefit from some advice and guidance, do get in touch with me and ask about my medical CV writing service.