Preparing a CV

CC BY-NC-ND by Flickr user JiPs☆STiCk

CC BY-NC-ND by Flickr user JiPs☆STiCk

Next week, fourth-year students from the University of Queensland School of Medicine – Ochsner Clinical School will attend an all-day symposium to help prepare them for their residency applications. As part of this programming, a member of The Ochsner Journal‘s Publishing Services team will offer a presentation on how to construct a curriculum vitae (CV).

Here are some of the basic points – and they hold as true for a job-seeking medical student as they do for a job-seeking pastry chef.

  • A CV is a summary of your education, training, experience, and skills. It’s intended to highlight your qualifications to a potential employer. Your goal in composing your CV is to communicate not only your expertise but also your professionalism and savvyProper formatting of the CV – and knowing what to include and what to leave out – is essential in this communication.
  • Use a standard, readable serif font (eg, Times New Roman) in a standard, readable size (eg, 10-12 pt). Eschew fancy fonts that aspire to look like signatures, cursive, or calligraphy. Yes, even when you’re typing your name at the top. No, Comic Sans is not a good idea either. (See “professionalism and savvy” above.)
  • The information you include should be complete, accurate, and relevant. Tailor the CV to the job you’re applying for.
  • Present yourself well, and honestly. You want to look like a desirable candidate, but that doesn’t mean you should pad or falsify the document.
  • Unless you have an exceptionally good reason, there’s no need to list information from high school on your CV. A bullet point for your 11th grade perfect attendance certificate might suggest to a potential employer that you have no other accolades to list. (A good thing to list, if you’re a current medical student: clinical research experience in high school. The same principle applies to other fields; if you’ve got high school experience that demonstrates an early and rigorous focus relevant to your current work, it might be worth listing.)
  • With regard to publications, do not list works that are “submitted” or “in preparation” – ie, works that you intend to submit or have submitted but have not been accepted for publication. (“In press” works – ie, works that have been accepted for publication but are not yet available to the public – are safe to include.)
  • As you gain experience, update your CV to add the new items. This way you will always have a current CV on hand, ready to deliver to a potential employer at a moment’s notice!

Formatting your CV can be a tedious task. We’ve put together a formatted template with our fourth-year medical students in mind, but it’s easily modified to the needs of professionals in other fields. Download the CV template here!

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