In the absence of any pre-established relationship, the content of your CV and other application materials are all an employer knows about you before deciding whether to consider you as a candidate for their job opening. The reality is that you may be filtered out as a viable candidate for your dream job before you even have the opportunity to sell yourself via a phone interview or on-site visit.
There will likely be competition for any position you decide to pursue, so creating first impressions and how you market yourself as a candidate should not be taken lightly. Though the content of your CV and other application materials may appear very basic on the surface, it is the minor details that can set you apart and differentiate you from the competition when all else is equal.
Create a strong CV
The first document that will be required by all employers is your curriculum vitae (CV). Employers use the CV as a screening mechanism to filter out candidates who don’t seem like the right fit before proceeding to phone interviews.
To determine fit and qualification, they look for obvious items like medical training and education, work history, certifications, licensure, professional associations, honors and awards, research and publications. Your goal is to include all the pertinent information that will set you apart as a candidate.
Conversely, do not add what could be construed as irrelevant content just to make your CV longer. The length of your CV is not indicative of your quality as a candidate. Simply adding content to increase length will dilute the meaningful substance of your CV and make it more difficult for potential employers to navigate.
Employers need to be able to navigate through your CV quickly to find the information they are looking for. Beyond the content itself, you can also help accomplish this through proper formatting, consistent spacing and listing activities in reverse chronological order. Employers are most interested in what you are doing now and shouldn’t have to dig too far to find that information.
Again, a strong CV will not win you the job necessarily, but one that is disorganized and difficult to navigate can certainly eliminate you from consideration earlier in the process.
Sell yourself in your cover letter
It is to your advantage to submit a cover letter along with your CV. Your CV may show how you’re qualified, but your cover letter will show why you’re a great fit.
If there is a job posting or advertisement for the opening, take the specific qualifications, skills or attributes being sought and elaborate further in the letter on how you are a match. In addition, indicate any pre-existing relationships you have in the organization or area to show that your commitment to the opportunity will be long-lasting.
Line up references and letters of recommendation
Request letters of recommendation or contact information for your references before or at the onset of your search. Be sure to notify your references if you believe a potential employer will be reaching out to them.
By devoting the necessary time and attention to ensure your application materials reflect your strength as a candidate, your chances of moving forward in the process are only increased. You have worked hard to get this far in your career and do not want to miss out on your dream job for reasons within your control.
Jeff Hinds, MHA, is president of Premier Physician Agency, LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in physician job search and contracts.