Writing a compelling CV

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta
Alexandra Cappetta

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Many job seekers know ‘CV’ is short for ‘curriculum vitae’, but did you know the Latin phrase translates in English to “the course of life”? It makes sense considering your CV’s goal is to highlight the course of your professional, educational and extracurricular experiences to help you take the next step in your career.

It’s essential for your CV to be complete, well-organized and compelling to employers in order to help you land the job you want. So, here are some tips to get yours moving in the right direction:

CV or resume?

Before sitting down to craft your CV, it’s important you’ve determined why a CV is the best approach. While a CV and resume have the same goal of getting you employed, there are some differences between the two, including the best time to use them.

A resume is shorter in length, detail and might vary in structure and organization from application to application. Alternatively, a CV will likely be lengthier than a resume, go into more detail and follow a clear and chronological structure that’s less open to customization. Because you’ll be looking for positions that will require more extensive information, a CV will be your go-to method for many applications.

So, what should your CV look like?

Your CV: What to include – and what to exclude

Follow this checklist when writing your CV

A strong CV is careful to include what’s important without oversharing – or oversimplifying. Remember: This is a quick snapshot of your ‘course of life,’ not an overly detailed portrait. Your CV should include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Career objective/summary
  • Academic achievements and education history
  • Licensures and credentials
  • Leadership or research experience
  • Residency and fellowship training
  • Grants and awards
  • Publications, lectures or presentations
  • Languages
  • Cover letter

Your CV should NOT include:

  • Your photo
  • Past salary information
  • Explanations for leave or termination
  • References (offer these upon request)



While it’s advised to keep your CV around two to three pages, there is no definitive limit. With your academic history and training as a medical professional, it’s OK for it to be longer, but the key is to ensure you’re being clear and only offering the most relevant information.

If a recruiter or employer only spends 30 seconds reviewing your CV, what would stand out?

Keep your sections informative without bogging down the highlights. This will help recruiters and employers more easily process your information, and give you space to build upon the details you’ve provided during an interview or meeting.


It’s important for your CV to clearly identify the dates and ranges of your experiences. These should be listed within each section in reverse chronological order – with your most recent experience listed first.

Also be sure to choose a font that’s easy to read – like Calibri or Times New Roman – to create consistency and tighten the appearance of your CV. Each section title should be bolded and enlarged to add emphasis as well.

When you’ve finished a first draft, pay attention to the amount of white space on your pages. Is there too much? Too little? You don’t want every inch of the page filled completely, but you also don’t want gaping holes of white space that will distract the reader from the important content. Find a template that’s both visually appealing and well organized.

Tip: You can access CV samples, templates and get assistance crafting yours at PhysicianCV.com.


This should go without saying, but your CV should only include accurate and truthful statements about your experiences. Avoid stretching details to fit what you think the employer is seeking, as this will only put you in a difficult position later.

While your CV will likely remain consistent and be repurposed for more than one application, your cover letter is where you have freedom to customize and add variation. When adjusting your cover letter, be sure to pay attention to the organization’s job description and posting so you can pinpoint specific buzzwords or traits the employers are pursuing. This will make you more relevant as a candidate, and more desirable as your strengths align with the organization’s ideals.


While the practice of CV writing can feel straightforward, sometimes it helps to see an example CV to better understand how you can configure yours for success. Here’s an example of a well-organized CV outline and the details you should incorporate:


Great Candidate, M.D.
Board Status Specialty Profession
Street Address, City, State, ZIP, Country

Phone number: xxx-xxx-xxxx, Email address: greatcandidate@email.com
Citizenship (recommended if you require a visa)

Job Objective: (This is a quick snapshot of you as a physician, your specialty certification and background. If a recruiter only reads this section, they should have a good idea of who you are.)
Example: Passionate and intuitive physician with license and board certification in Family Medicine. Experienced in private practice settings with a strong background in serving rural health systems.

Education and Supervised Practices:

  • Fellowship, Specialty, Facility; City, State – Begin Date-End Date
  • Residency, Specialty, Facility; City, State – Begin Date-End Date
  • Medical School, City, State, Degree, Year Graduated


Licenses and Certifications

  • License, State Licensed – Date Licensed-Date Expires
  • License, State Licensed – Date Licensed-Date Expires
  • Certification – Certification Date

Practice Experience

  • Title (Begin Date-End Date)
    Practice Type, Specialty, Facility; City, State
  • Title (Begin Date-End Date)
    Practice Type, Specialty, Facility; City, State

Continuing Education

  • Topic; Instruction, Location – Credits, Completed Date


  • Academic Honor – Year Honored

Clinical Research

  • Role – Begin Date-End Date


  • Title, Publication – Date Published


  • Title, Location – Presented Date

Professional Societies and Other Memberships

  • Society, Highest Office – Begin Date-End Date
  • Society, Highest Office – Begin Date-End Date
  • Society, Highest Office – Begin Date-End Date


  • Language – Fluency

Professional Interests or Proficiencies
This brief (and optional) section of your CV should either be a bulleted list or a one to two sentence acknowledgment of your core competencies, proficiencies using a certain software, navigating regulations, delivering patient care or other skillsets relevant to the opportunity.


We’re here to help! Contact PhysicianRelations@PracticeLink.com with any questions about writing your CV or for additional assistance.

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta

Alexandra Cappetta

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