Interview Advice

What Makes a Great CV in Medicine?

Monday, 6 May, 2024

My top tips for writing a medical CV

A great CV in medicine, as in any industry, has one job – to tell your potential employer what you have to offer and why you deserve an interview. But how much detail do you need? Should you include your “outside interests”? What about a photo? It can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when you’re applying for a job you really want or one you know is highly competitive.

I’ve worked in medicine for over 30 years and as an experienced interviewer for specialty programs I’ve seen the other side…and know all about it!

Fair to say, I’ve seen my share of CVs and I know how to make them work to your advantage.

Let’s dive into my top tips and explore how to make yours stand out (showing off all of your hard work!).

  1. What elements to include
  2. Length and word count
  3. Common mistakes
  4. How shortlisting works

What elements make a great medical CV?

Below are the essential sections to include in your CV, whether you’re applying for your first specialty job as a junior doctor or a senior doctor making the next move in your career.

Name and contact detailsYour name should appear in large font at the top of the page
Your contact details should be your phone number and email address
You don’t need to include your home address or your date of birth
Include your AHPRA registration number here
Career statementThis should be a short section (a paragraph or two) outlining your career objectives and highlighting your key strengths and achievements.
Educational qualificationsIn reverse chronological order
Work experience and employment historyIn reverse chronological order.
For junior doctors, you should include all the terms you’ve done. As you become more senior, less detail is required.
Don’t leave unexplained gaps or omissions. If you’ve taken time off for any reason, you need to make this clear.
ResearchInclude any research completed or in progress
Professional developmentInclude details of any relevant courses you’ve done
Teaching, leadership, quality improvement, and other professional rolesYou can modify the headings of other categories to suit your content so think carefully about any hospital committees you’ve been on, any audits you’ve taken part in, and anything else you’d like to highlight
RefereesMake sure you ask them!
Make sure you have the best contact details for them

What’s a good length and word count?

The key here is not to get too hung up about the length of your CV; there’s no rule that says it has to be two pages or less! Simply put, don’t include unnecessary details or make it longer than it needs to be.

Including outside interests or extra-curricular activities is up to you. If your activities have some relevance to your work or give an indication of you and your personality, it might be a good idea to add them. For example, if you’re involved in volunteer or community work, play team sports or have a leadership role outside of work, it could pay to highlight this.

To add a photo or not to add a photo? Personally, I don’t recommend them, but some employers require them. If you’re going to, make sure it’s a good one; friendly and professional.

Common mistakes

The number one rule: check your spelling and grammar. Then check it again! 

The biggest mistake I see? Letting an opportunity to highlight strengths slip you by. Make sure you add these in your Career Statement. Look at how you order the rest of your CV and how you highlight entries – are your strengths made clear? Because you certainly have them, and they need to know about them!

You also need to pay attention to your layout and how your CV looks for readability – make sure it’s not cramped or messy, and use consistent fonts, headings, and font size (now check your spelling and grammar again!). 

How shortlisting works

This process varies a lot between specialties, so it’s best not to think too much about it and focus on getting your CV prepped and ready! 

For some specialties with a national selection process, points are allocated for various things on your CV (completed at an administrative level). 

For local selection processes, it’s usually someone in an admin role, along with the convenor of the interview panel who reviews CVs coming in. It’s less formal in terms of having a points system, but particular departments would look at emphasising certain things.

While it can be somewhat helpful to know this part about behind the scenes it changes between specialties, so the best thing to do here is explore how to create the best CV for you.

Find out more about Interview Coaching here.

Remember – your CV is one of the biggest and most important opportunities you have in the application process to highlight your skills, so let’s make sure yours stands out. 

This is the time to sell yourself and your achievements. It might feel a bit odd at first to lean into showing off your accomplishments, but it’s exactly what you need to do. You’ve achieved amazing things and this is the chance to let others know you’re the one for the job!

Want to read more about prepping for your next interviews? I’ve created a FREE guide just for that very purpose!  Take a look: Unlock Your Medical Interview Potential

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