xperience evaluating physician CVs has taught me that advanced degrees and a lot of education don't necessarily equal polished CVs. It has never ceased to amaze me that, when applying for a job that can pay as much as $400,000 per year, individuals will still submit CVs that are disorganized, difficult to follow, or that contain spelling and grammatical errors. Sometimes, it's even difficult to sort out when the educational milestones have been achieved, or where the applicant is living!
As a reply to all the bad CVs I have seen, I'd like to offer some helpful advice to physicians (and anyone) trying to make themselves look good from the get-go. Then, I'll talk about some of the craziest and most amusing errors I've come across to date.
First and foremost, please make sure you spell check your work! We all type quickly, and can make mistakes, but it only takes a second to have Microsoft or some other program double check your words. This will avoid embarrassment at silly mistakes, and guarantees a more professional presentation in English.
Secondly, please make sure to list your qualifications and education in some sort of order. This is most easily done in chronological order - that is - put your oldest educational experience last, and list your most recent first. If you've just completed a fellowship, then that should go at the top under your "education" section. Sometimes, physicians will list their residencies or fellowships under experience instead of under education. This makes it harder to locate your residency, and where and when it was completed. Remember - you want anyone reading your work to be able to immediately tell where you were educated, when you completed that, and what you're specialized in. Irritating a potential employer by making him or her hunt for your qualifications will not do you any favors, and it can also lead to errors - where someone accidentally overlooks a vital piece of your story.
Third, please don't format each section differently, or include 30 pages of your published work in between your current position and other points that are important to read. This, again, could potentially prevent an employer from seeing important parts of your CV such as your visa status, research interests, or hobbies. It's acceptable (and often helpful) to include publications, but try to consolidate these as much as you can, and put them at the end of your CV. It's best to clearly label each section of your CV, and make all the headings bold. This helps a reader quickly locate the information they need.
Finally, be sure to include accurate contact information so that a potential employer can easily reach you. We receive numerous CVs with errors in the phone numbers, emails, etc., and of course this is frustrating for an employer when they are unable to contact their first choice candidate!
Due to the fact that people living in the United States come from different family backgrounds, it's a good idea to include your visa status - even if you're a US citizen who has never studied or traveled outside of the country. I made this error myself until I realized that judging by my name, people could easily assume I am not a citizen. Again, providing this information up front will save time for you and a potential employer.
Now - for the funny things we've discovered over the years:
1) track changes left in the document - yes - it's actually happened where someone gave feedback on a CV, and the comments were still there when the file was uploaded. To avoid this mishap, make sure to accept track changes and then re-save the document. Better yet - save it as a pdf so you can preview everything before it is submitted.
2) Non-English CVs - while we appreciate and admire bilingual individuals (and especially polyglots!), the hospitals and clinics hiring physicians are unlikely to read other languages well enough to evaluate a CV written in a different language. Make sure your CV is entirely in English, and that it has been proofread by a native speaker if required.
3) Corrupted files - we've encountered our fair share of documents that, for whatever reason, are corrupted. Please make sure that your CV is formatted and saved either as a Word document or as a pdf. This makes things easier for everyone!
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