When considering what should be a in medical CV, it depends on what type of role you are applying for and which level. There isn’t an absolute right or wrong about the writing process. However, it’s helpful to plan out key headings in advance that should be in a medical CV.
The key headings that should be in a medical CV
You’ll find below a list of headings that should be in a medical CV. You may not choose to follow exactly the same order. That’s fine, however, I would point out that your CV needs to make logical sense and read well. For example, if you are applying for a consultant post, it’s important the reader can gain a good understanding of your management/leadership skills before listing all the courses/presentations you’ve attended. Otherwise, it can seem like you haven’t given consideration to the priorities of what is important for the role.
Ultimately, it takes a few seconds for the reader to make an initial judgement of your CV. For that reason, it needs to be punchy and make a strong first impression. That is why planning your CV in draft before writing it out fully can be a helpful process. During this initial phase, you want to be gathering all the important information that should be in your medical CV. Following this stage, the refinement of writing it using powerful language can be added later on.
For further support on layout and content ideas to better understand what should be in a medical CV, you can download my free medical CV template.
Personal details page
Your name, address and various contact details should be fit in the top of the first page over 4 or 5 lines. Create a short Personal Details section on the front page. This ensures that you list your qualifications and employment on the first page/second where they are most accessible.
For the personal details section, stick to the bare essentials only. By including details which are normally kept confidential, you are ensuring that your CV will not be discriminated against.
Include your name, letters/qualifications, GMC Registration Number, Address (town, postcode only), telephone numbers and email address.
It’s good advice to add a personal profile at the beginning of your CV. This offers the reader a very quick summary of who you are and what you can bring to the role.
Keep it to a single paragraph only – maximum 10 lines. You should target all the areas set out in the person specification and the job description. This will demonstrate that you understand the post you are applying to and what the needs of the trust are.
List your qualifications in reverse chronological order. Start from your medical degrees (including any intercalated degree). Ensure that you list relevant dates and place of study. Include your CCT/CCST date (if you are a consultant) Finally, list any qualifications you are currently studying for (e.g. medical education degree).
Prizes and Awards
Make sure that you include the date of the awards, who granted it and why it was granted. For example, if you obtained a first prize for a poster, it can be helpful to state how any many people you competed against. It’s advisable not to list irrelevant prizes, eg. gold prize in the school chess club. It may be that you will need to repeat some of this information later. For example, if you obtained a first prize for a presentation, you may want to repeat it in the presentation section. However, this does not overly matter; having the prize on the first page will create a good impression and repeating it later on will help to place it into context.
If you are currently in a senior locum post or other substantive managerial role, then it may be worth ensuring your current post stands out from the rest of your training. This is because it will highlight the extent of your senior experience. Furthermore, it will ensure that your experience of working at a senior level and independently is ring-fenced from the rest of your experience. Ultimately, this will give it more weight.
For all your jobs, you should provide dates (the month and year only will be sufficient) job title and specialty/subspecialty, hospital name. Make sure that your jobs are listed in reverse chronological order (i.e. going backwards in time).
If you are still fairly junior in your role, you will probably list all of your duties and experience in each role. If, however, you applying for a senior post, you should avoid having a CV whereby each job’s duties and responsibilities are summarised under each heading.
Since you are likely to have done many different attachments and posts, it will continue over too many pages and make it difficult for the reader to extract what they need to know. You should make the recruiters’ job easy by summarising the information in a way that they can easily read. Use the tab function (rather than tables) to neatly outline each role. Your overall experience can then be summarised in a separate more concise section.
Your future employer will only really be interested in what you have to offer now and not what you did 10 or more years ago. Therefore, you should find a way to summarise your experience using appropriate headings and sub-headings. See example on medical CV template for an Emergency Medicine doctor.
In addition, you should write in bullet points, not sentences and use active words to start each point (see medical CV template example above).
Always avoid personal statements such as “I was lucky to gain this post because it gave me the opportunity to … etc”. Ultimately, try to remember that your CV is designed to present facts only. Therefore, it’s role is two-fold; to get you short-listed and to provide talking points for the interview. For this reason, keep your personal statements until the interview, where you can use them most effectively.
This should include any experience of managing people and resources, including:
- Writing and implementing new guidelines
- Quality improvement projects
- Designing rotas
- Leading projects such as audits or research
- Designing and implementing teaching programmes
- Representing colleagues on committees (e.g. clinical governance or other team meetings)
- Interviewing and hiring new team members
You may want to include experience outside of your medical role, though you should place it at the end. You might even want to split this section between “Medical” and “Non-medical”. This is more appropriate if you are not yet in a senior position and haven’t yet built up much management experience. For more senior posts, the employer would only really be interested in your work-based management experience. However, if you have significant experience outside of work, it is worth stating. For example, chairing in a charity organisation. project management of a house-build.
You can also include any management courses or events that you attended. Although this information may be repeated in the courses section, this does not matter. Repetitions are acceptable provided they are not taking up too much space and that they serve a purpose.
List all formal and informal teaching you have both carried out and attended. Additionally, mention the type of audiences that you have taught (nurses, GPs, juniors and peers) as well as some of the key topics.
One of the aspects that they will be looking for is an awareness of a range of teaching methods. For this reason, you should ensure that you mention the various methods that you used (online learning, videos, formal lectures using PowerPoint, bedside teaching, informal/formal supervision, etc)
List the title and date of the audit in reverse chronological order. For each audit you should outline a brief summary, providing the aim of the audit, your role, the conclusions drawn and actions taken as a result.
Indicate the year of each project and quote the title of your research (use bold or italic features to make it readable). Again, present the information in reverse chronological order.
Present your publications in reverse chronological order. List the title, authors and relevant dates.
If you have a substantial number of publications and you feel that the list is too long, you should aim to leave out some of the less interesting papers/cases. Remember that your CV is designed to achieve a purpose, which is to get you short-listed. It is not necessarily an entire biography of everything you’ve done in your career to date. Ideally, if the content gets in the way of readability then leave out what is less important.
To improve readability, you may wish to separate your publications in relevant categories (e.g. abstracts, case reports, peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, etc).
List the dates (year and month only) titles and authors. If you obtained any prizes or awards, mention them under the appropriate presentation.
If possible, try to separate your presentations in different types (assuming you have enough of each type to do this) such as: international, regional, local.
Courses & Meetings
Usually, courses and meetings feature straight after the clinical experience in a trainee or junior role. However, for senior positions, this information is not as important as the rest and it is therefore acceptable to place it towards the end of the CV. For each course, show the date, title of the course and the learning institution.
Other Information & Interests
It can be helpful to create mini-headings to divide up this area. For example, you may want to indicate your proficiency in basic software/computer skills such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, website creation tools. Include databases that you frequently search for literature searches.
It would certainly be helpful to state your proficiency in any languages that you can speak (e.g. Spanish – basic, German – conversational). If you speak several dialects due to your ethnic origin, it is best to place them under an umbrella definition (e.g. fluent in 4 Indian dialects) rather than list them all separately.
And finally, mention any involvement in voluntary work and list your hobbies. However, don’t exaggerate a hobby or interest just to sound interesting, keep it genuine!
“Watching TV” is not a personal interest as far as CVs are concerned. Nor is “going out with friends”.
Usually, you should list no more than three unless otherwise requested. Provide their name, job title, correspondence address, telephone number and email address.
….. If you still require my help
I hope that you found this blog helpful – this month I’m focusing on medical CV writing, please see my other November blogs in this mini-series. They include ‘How much does it cost to have someone write your CV‘ and ‘How do I write a Medical CV?‘