Though it’s great to see yourself as a Renaissance man or woman in terms of career options, someone who can succeed in a wide range of roles and settings, for the purposes of a job search this approach can be counterproductive.
At the stage of the hiring process where CVs are involved, it’s all about match-up: How precisely does your experience align with the position that needs to be filled?
By thinking like a specialist and communicating the right details in your physician CV, you will see an uptick in the amount and quality of responses received from employers.
Answer the “Why me?” question
I recently worked with a board-certified cardiologist who was concerned about the lack of attention his CV was getting. I took a look and quickly ruled out qualifications as the culprit.
Prestigious fellowships in interventional cardiology and advanced heart failure and transplantation, solid teaching experience, numerous awards, a huge publication list…it went on and on.
In fact, the more I read the more I found myself asking the questions, “Where does he go from here? What are his priorities?” This is the main problem with a jack-of-all-trades CV: If you don’t explicitly communicate what you’re after, an employer will rarely connect the dots for you.
My solution was to develop two separate versions of the CV inline with the types of jobs he was targeting: the first toward interventional cardiology positions, the second toward advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology roles.
I recommend creating an opening statement at the start of the CV that establishes your suitability. Here are the first few lines of the interventional cardiologist-oriented CV:
Board-certified interventional cardiologist with a track record of excellence in advanced heart failure and transplantation, cardiovascular disease management and interventional training. Adept in the management of mechanical circulatory support devices, including IABP and Impella LVAD. Able to guide interdisciplinary teams in enhancing quality of care standards.
And now here are the first few lines of the advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist-oriented CV:
Board-certified cardiologist specializing in the management of advanced heart failure (inpatient, outpatient, consultative), mechanical circulatory support devices (LVAD, TAH, ECMO) and cardiac transplantation. Skilled in the management of critically ill patients after cardiothoracic surgery, cardiogenic shock and inotrope dependent end stage heart failure. Distinguished clinical research background.
Both statements are describing the same person. But because we’re thinking now about what aspects of his background are most relevant to the job being targeted, the initial impression is stronger. Stronger is good!
Be strategic about what you highlight
Using the opening statement as the theme for the rest of the CV, elaborate upon those aspects that support your standing as a specialist. For my cardiologist client, that meant making the following changes and additions:
Integration of an “Interventional & endovascular skills” section divided into three categories: coronary, peripheral and structural. A section like this that highlights procedures is a great way to back up the assertions of an opening paragraph with concrete details.
Inclusion of both current and in-progress licenses and certifications. To add an upcoming certification, list it along with a note on when it will be completed. Here’s an example: ABVM Endovascular Certification (anticipated 2016)
Highlighting useful information within work history and postdoctoral training. In my client’s case, we emphasized details such as how a recently completed fellowship in interventional cardiology had a focus on cardiac catheterization, as well as coronary and endovascular interventions.
At other points we drew attention to his extensive experience with lab-based clinical services, as well as some of the distinguished faculty he has learned from. Avoid mentioning responsibilities that are taken for granted at your level, such as patient history taking.
Use closing sections to your advantage
How often have you seen CVs that end with a laundry list of publication and presentation credits but offer little in the way of additional insight?
The first thing I do when presented with a CV is scan the opening and evaluate education and work history. The second thing I do is skip to the bottom for a glimpse of the person beyond the credentials.
This is a prime opportunity to highlight relevant soft skills.
For example, if you want to communicate your ability to work well with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and have performed humanitarian work in another country, including this information is a great way to do just that.
I would recommend inserting additional sections with information in any (or all) of the following areas:
- Professional Development (courses, training, etc.)
- Volunteer Experience
- Community Involvement
- Professional Affiliations
Coming across as a specialist within your CV can give you an edge during the job search. State your fit for the job, back it up with concrete qualifications and highlights, and remember to stay on-message from the moment you send out that CV to when you accept that great new position.