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Curriculum Vitae [C.V.] versus Résumé, by William S. Frank

To begin, résumés and curricula vitae (CVs) are not the same thing. A CV, which you probably have, is a chronological listing of what you did and where and when you did it. It's a sort of professional life chart. A list of credentials. Other than portraying your educational and experience history accurately, it has no particular goal and makes no particular point. Readers make of it what they can. Physicians are familiar with this kind of document.

A résumé is a business document designed to market you in commercial or non-clinical markets. The French root is résumé, which means a summary. It's accomplishment based. It answers the employer's pointed questions, "What have you done before, and why should I think you can do things like that for me?"

Since doctors usually hire other doctors to practice their specialties based on their experience and education, CVs often suffice, sometimes followed up with reviews of their references. Many physicians have gone through both sides of those interactions, and they're old hat. Your résumé is different, both in content and in the business way you have to think about it. The following chart shows the differences.

  C.V. Résumé
Audience Academic,
Professional,
or Clinical.
Business,
Commercial,
or Non-Clinical.
Purpose Inform. Persuade or sell.
80% of Value Titles, Organizational Prestige, Academic Achievements. Brand-Name Employers [like Cleveland Clinic], Work Accomplishments.
Format A list of lists. Where you were when. A list of accomplishments, results. What you achieved. Facts, figures, #s, data.
Key Feature Length. Succinctness.
Short is better.
Length Unlimited. When in doubt, put it in. 2-3 pages. When in doubt, leave it out.
Biggest Mistake Disorganized, poorly-formatted, sloppy. Looks unprofessional. Focuses on job description, duties and responsibilities, not accomplishments.
Quote A Ph.D. candidate submitted his thesis, and his professor said, "This is too easy to read and understand. You need to make it more pedantic." "Show me a person who can't distill a lifetime onto two pages and I'll show you a scatterbrain or an egomaniac." —Jim Kennedy, Founder, The Directory of Executive Recruiters.
Education At the front of the document. At the end of the document.
Tip #1 This isn't a do-it-yourself project. Unless you're a master typist, hire a secretarial service or professional word processor. Keep backup copies. Spend 8-12 hours drilling for, identifying, and wording your accomplishments and achievements. Keep backup copies.
Tip #2 Don't make the reader THINK. Don't make the reader THINK.
Tip #3 Keep backup copies Keep backup copies

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