Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians.
A Physician's Resume Agony, Part One
by William S. Frank
Matt K., M.D., an internist in private practice, became my outplacement client after he resigned his position. He was one of the best, brightest, and most creative clients I've ever had; yet he struggled for several weeks writing his resume. He agonized over it and created several different versions, but when he finished, he had a resume he loved. It fit him. He felt proud of it. Best of all, it worked. After an aggressive job search, Matt got the job he wanted. Here's his personal story, transcribed from a taped interview:
"When I wrote the likes and dislikes from past jobs I ended up with something like 23 pages. It's difficult to remember back that many years, and in some cases it's even difficult to remember last year. But I keep revising my lists.
"Driving to the office in the morning I would remember something I liked or disliked or something that was a strength or a weakness or something I had done wrong or something I had done right. Every time I thought of something, that led me to something else.
"Eventually, the likes and dislikes led me into the list of accomplishments. Maybe I approached the assignment backwards, because I looked at my accomplishments to find out what made me feel good. What made me feel bad turned out to be what I did poorly. Those were my weaknesses. And it was absolutely necessary for me to get all that out on paper and take a look at it and come to some conclusions.
"I approached it with a vengeance because it was very important to me-although I didn't necessarily recognize it at the time.
"The accomplishments were like a revelation to me. I realized that for the past ten years I had done many good things. And writing my achievements was an objective approached. It wasn't like I was trying to fool myself or trying to make myself feel better for no reason."
"When you can quantify things and see how much money you saved, or how much money you've earned, or what you did for people, it's very objective and you can say, "Boy, I accomplished an awful lot in ten years."
"What's truly amazing is that I didn't recognize that when I was actually doing the work. It made me feel good at the time, but pretty soon the good feelings were gone, and I never really put that together in my mind. I never looked back and said, "This is a very good feeling, I did an awful lot of good work there."
"It was a struggle in many ways remembering what I'd done. I went back to the clinic and went through four or five years of chronological files just to jog my mind, to pull things back into memory.
"But it's amazing how much I lost in terms of 'what I was doing when' during the past ten years. So it was a struggle to put those things together.
"But there again, once you think of something, then maybe the next day you think of something else, and then maybe that afternoon you think of something elseor five thingsand it builds on itself once you put yourself in that mindset.
"The resume came out of the list of accomplishments and that was a particular struggle for me, because by the time I had gotten to the accomplishmentsand that list was so longthen you switched tracks on me and told me I had to cut it down to two pages. (Laughs.)
"It's difficult, when you finally look at your accomplishments and begin to feel good about themit's difficult then to try to boil them down into a manageable, readable document because by natural tendency, I believe you want to put everything good you've ever done into that particular paper. You want to demonstrate to other people how really good you are.
"With your advice, I was able to cut out a lot. You recommended that I prepare a supplementary list of accomplishments as an addendum to the resume to use in one-on-one situations. That proved to be a very valuable tool.
"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using
two words when one will do." Thomas Jefferson
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