Medical Students / JMOsPostgraduate / Specialties

Optimising your CV

This section focuses on maximising your chances of getting your foot in the door by scoring an interview in your specialty of choice. Constructing a good CV is much more than just presenting what you’ve done in an ordered and aesthetically appealing manner. It is essential that you identify and highlight your accomplishments that will make you an attractive candidate. Writing your CV should also help determine what further steps you can take to improve your chances of getting into the specialty of your choice.

It is important to realise that if are offered an interview, the selection panel will have your CV in front of them and will ask probing questions about whatever sparks their interest. Never lie and be prepared to fully back up anything you put down. It is a good idea to talk to a senior doctor involved in your preferred specialty to determine what sort of things they look for in a candidate, and to ask them to have a look at your CV.

The following information should be included:
Personal Details:
This is a no-brainer. Put in your personal details. Don’t forget to include e-mail addresses. If you have a frivolous sounding e-mail address i.e. [email protected], get a new one which sounds more professional. Including your ‘Dr’ title in your name will not impress anyone – everyone else applying for the position should have the same title.

Work experience:
Start with the most recent jobs first and then work backwards. Make sure you list the year you worked, your position, which hospital it was at and all the rotations you undertook. Keep employment history prior to graduation from medicine brief and relevant. Some part-time jobs may highlight certain qualities, such as leadership or ability to work well in a team. The particular roles that demonstrate these qualities should be signposted when describing non-medical work experience. If you completed medicine as a post-graduate student, employers are often interested in your previous employment history.

It is sometimes appropriate to mention periods where you worked in a position of increased responsibility, e.g. filling in as an unaccredited registrar. However, do not exaggerate. A week covering your registrar while they went on exam leave does not qualify as a registrar rotation and you may well get caught out in the interview.

Also included in this section should be any volunteer work you have undertaken, as well as medical electives. A medical elective might alternatively be included in the “education” section, but is best presented early in your CV if it is relevant to your chosen specialty.

Start with the most recent and work backwards. Average marks awarded for your medical degree or final year mark should be included if you think that this would advantage you. Often an academic transcript will be required to accompany your application. Don’t forget to include any honours, academic awards or scholarships. If you have received a number of such awards, a separate section on your CV is justified. Final year high school marks may also be included here, but tend not to significantly differentiate candidates, and are of lesser significance as time passes.

Research, Publications and Presentations:
If you have completed any research or are in the process of completing a research project make sure it is included. Research related to the specialty you wish to apply for is particularly helpful. The date, title, location, supervisor, type of research and a brief summary (with or without a comment on likely publication) is the minimum required. It is often useful to have two separate sections, one for research/presentations and the other for publications (if you have them). For presentations make sure you include the title and where and when it was presented as well as a brief description. Publications should be formally cited.

e.g. Unpublished work
In “research & presentations” section:
2006: “Initial Experience with Renal Radio-frequency Ablation ”
-Retrospective data analysis, Royal Melbourne Hospital, supervisor Dr Jonathan Florescu
-Treatment was successful in 20 of 22 patients with follow period up to three years. (Pending publication)
-Presented at the RANZCR 56th Annual Scientific Meeting 2005

e.g. Published work
In “research & presentations” section:
2002-2003 The Mercy Perinatal Research Centre[INDENT=2]Factors affecting umbilical venous perfusion during experimental cord knotting
Presented at The Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Sydney 2004

In “publications” section:
Tuxen AJ, Permezel M, Walker SP, Georgiou HM. Factors affecting umbilical venous perfusion during experimental cord knotting. Placenta. 2005 Nov;26(10):753-7.

Hobbies and Interests
This is the favorite of medical workforce types. It is in this section that they will closely scrutinize your CV for any evidence that you are one of their two favorite types of people: a team player or a leader. This is the time to speak up about your life outside of medicine, and if you don’t have one, get one! Include anything in this section which you feel highlights qualities such as leadership or teamwork, along with any other altruistic or creative pursuits. Be specific if possible. Employers always like hearing about team sports, musical instruments, memberships of foundations and charity work. Again this is the section where many people tend to exaggerate and it can be painfully obvious. We’ve all donated clothes to the Salvation Army bins. Don’t turn this into “contributor of material goods to a charity organization”. It has been done before and employers see through it.

Before placing anyone on this list make sure that they have consented to acting as your referee. This is essential. You also need to determine whether they will actually provide you with a positive reference. This can be tricky. Consultants who know you well and have spent a lot of time working with you will probably give the matter more thought. They are unlikely to say that they will give you a good reference but then give an average one because they have forgotten who you are when they are called up by a potential employer. A boss who says you are doing a great job or offers to give you a reference is obviously a safe bet. If your end of term assessment is glowing make sure you ask for a reference from the person responsible.

This article was authored by Jonathan Tomaszewski and Cosmin Florescu and originally appeared on the MyMedicalCareer website. Republished with permission and thanks.