Interview-Winning Medical CV Best Practices

To understand the weight a compelling Curriculum Vitae has, one must put themselves in the shoes of a prospective employer. Let’s follow the mindset of Laura, hiring authority for a large med-surge hospital.


Laura has a medical team woefully understaffed and overtasked, yet she is having trouble getting consent to hire a full-time clinician. She fights for months to get permission to hire, going through a tedious job requisition process involving budget submissions and acquiring approval via several signatures. Finally, she gets the stamp of approval. Instead of jumping for joy, she takes a deep breath. Laura knows all too well that the hospital will continue to lose money by not having enough staff to handle the patient volume, but a bad hire will cost the hospital hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Not to mention the potential negative impact on a company’s morale and productivity.  With a lot at stake –including her own job - Laura sets out to find the right candidate. No doubt, she will be scrutinizing each medical resume as it lands on her desk.

As Laura sifts through a multitude of candidate submissions, she will be looking for some specifics: primarily someone with considerable talent, not just a candidate with a medical degree and a license.  Additionally, she will look for a career summary that skips nothing of substance, tells a story of their career and showcases professional skills in just a few short pages. Even at a glance, it should be clear to Laura why you are the best person for the role.

While the medical resume reviewing process varies by facility, the result is always the same: One out of many is given the opportunity to interview.  And we want it to be you.

First, Captivate the Audience

You have 6.5 seconds to engage your reader. This all starts with an aesthetically pleasing document.  Choose a professional font, one that is considered easy to read such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Tahoma.  Resist the urge to make the fonts too small, by trying to fit all your information on one less page.  While it is important to be concise, you do not want to interfere with the clarity of this document. Don’t make your reader squint, by keeping the font size between 10 and 12.   Some CVs are scanned by an applicant tracking system, so it’s important to lay out the information efficiently using headers, bullet points, and appropriate margins.

Organize it Advantageously

Hiring authorities are programmed to look for relevant experience, and they do so quickly. Remember the 6.5-second rule? For that reason, experience and educational training should be put in reverse chronological order. You will want the most pertinent information to be at the top of the page. Make sure you detail your clinical experience regardless of whether it falls under your work experience or education, or even in a separate section.  After that, list your licensure and certifications, honors and awards, languages spoken, research projects, presentations and papers, teaching experience, professional memberships, personal interests and EMR competencies. Recent reference names and numbers can also be listed on the bottom of your CV, or better yet, consider including a few letters of professional reference. Do all this and forget to include a good way to be contacted via phone and email, and you’ve just taken yourself out of the running.

Explain Gaps

Maybe you decided to sail around the world for a year or took a few months off to help an aging parent.  Perhaps you were laid off?  All of this can be explained to the hiring manager - but don’t make them wonder. If you have a gap in your experience, don’t give your prospective employer the opportunity to assume the worst-case scenario. Take the wonder out of it. Don’t hide things, explain them. The best place to do this is in your cover letter. It is important to be truthful – it builds a critical foundation of honesty between you and a prospective employer.  During the process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it.

Use Action Verbs and Industry Related Words

Who better than you to advocate for your own talent? Before sitting down to compose your CV, it is imperative to assess your skills in tandem with your professional experience. What are your strengths as a candidate? What will you bring to the table? How have you applied these services elsewhere? Know your worth, and consider it carefully before putting pen to paper as you will be asked to elaborate when on an interview. Make sure that your talents are relative to what the opportunity requires and then be clear about your capabilities. This is best expressed by using phrases and terminology that will tie together your strengths and experiences. Consider words such as collaborative, resourceful, independent, diligent, reliable and phrases such as efforts resulted in, designed and developed, reduced wait times, instituted new policies, increased ROI, improved provider compliance and operational efficiency, received grants based on your research and so on.

Employ Social Media

With the right strategy in place, it is possible to strike a good balance of transparent communication, while conforming to the necessary limitations of the industry.  No matter what platform you are sharing content on, be sure that what you are saying to connections, friends, and followers is educational and germane.  Also, a well curated LinkedIn profile will help establish credibility as due to its professional nature and vast network of like-minded experts interested in connecting with others.

Review It, Review It, Review It

We can’t say it enough! A Curriculum Vitae is not the place to make errors. You will be judged disapprovingly once a potential employer recognizes an inconsistency or error. With resources like spell check, Grammarly®, and your best friend, there should be zero issues with the quality of your writing. It is a considerable offense to have any mistakes, and worth noting that a careless oversight will likely mean disqualification. Your CV is a document that should be written with the intent of making a critical first impression. You’ll want it to be perfect: a precise and an attractive representation of you. Spelling and grammatical errors will not be viewed positively.  Stand out from your competition for the right reasons!

Key Takeaway

Your CV, a critical factor in advancing in a medical career, is the first opportunity to demonstrate your talents and how you fit within an organization. It is a well-crafted CV that initially engages and attracts a hiring authority, such as Laura, to invite you for a phone or on-site interview. Unlike baseball, you only have one shot at bat. Get it wrong, and you could effectively ruin your chance of being considered.

MedSource Consultants has been helping physicians and advanced practice professionals shape their careers for over 20 years. Our team will be happy to help you construct a compelling CV that will ultimately win you the job of your dreams.