Putting Your Best Foot Forward – Your First Chance to Make a Good Impression
Our plastic surgery clients have specific needs when working with us to fill a plastic surgeon position. Our experience working with practices help us understand what they are looking for, and the best ways a plastic surgeons can use his or her curriculum vitae (CV) to make a favorable impression.
You should start your CV early in your training. It should be a living document started in medical school and amended through residency, fellowship, and various permanent career positions. The tips below will help you put your best foot forward. Creating a good CV is like building a house. Taking the time early on to build a good foundation makes it easy to add to and tweak your CV throughout your training and career.
Name and contact information. Getting this part of the CV right is not as simple as it seems. First, don’t get too fancy with formatting. As with all of the sections of your CV, if you keep it clean, simple, and easy to read, recruiters and our clients will thank you. Female candidates that marry and change their last name need to show their maiden name and married name on their CV.
Be sure to list your specialty just under your name so that it is easily visible. A surprising number of our candidates omit this detail and leave it to the reader to deduce from their education details. Make it easy for the reader.
Include a phone number at which you are easily reached, we recommend using your mobile number, so you can be reached by text or voice. Many of our clients prefer to text than email for routine communications.
Email addresses can be a source of problems. Avoid using an email address tied to your current institution, such as a residency address, if there’s a chance it will be disabled during your job search. We recommend using a personal email address.
Education. List your education in reverse chronological order, starting with your residency or your fellowship. Formatting and spacing can make a big difference in how your CV flows and how easy it is to read. On the left side of the page include institutions, degrees, and locations. On the right side, list the dates. It is important to include the start and end dates using months and years. Whether you are coming straight out of residency or looking for a change many years into your career, potential employers are looking for gaps in your timeline. For instance, they are looking to see if you went straight into medical school after college and if you began practicing immediately after residency. If you are later in your career, they want to see if there have been interruptions in your employment. Gaps should be explained in your cover letter, which we will discuss later.
Licensure and certifications. State medical licenses and board certifications should be listed following your education. These qualifications are always at the top of a recruiter or hiring physician’s list of questions.
Experience. Format this section the same way you formatted the section on education. It is not necessary to write long descriptions of your duties and responsibilities. You really only need the name of the employer, your title or position, the location, and the dates. If you had a career before medicine, list your previous employment under a separate heading. Your timeline should not extend beyond the first page, as it and the sections that precede it are the most important parts of your CV.
Other sections. You want to keep your CV as short as possible and generally no more than two pages long. Space permitting, other sections to consider adding include Leadership, Awards, Professional Affiliations/Memberships, Community Service, and Additional Skills, which would capture procedural skills, electronic health record proficiency, or languages spoken. Include only information relevant to your desired position. For example, if you have no interest in doing obstetrics, then you do not need to include every obstetrics conference or rotation you completed in medical school.
Academic positions. If you are pursuing an opportunity in an academic setting, it is crucial to add a section listing research, publications, presentations, poster projects, abstracts, grants, and scholarships. This type of CV will follow a different order. See the Association of American Medical Colleges resources for more information.
Personal information. The last section should describe your personal interests and hobbies. These details are important to include. Potential employers want to know what you (and your family, if applicable) are interested in because they want to assess what your ties to the community may be. If the community is a good fit for you and your family, you are more likely to stay for longer than just a single contract term. By including this personal information, you have already started the conversation and helped give employers an idea of what you are looking for.
Cover letter. Your cover letter is just as important as your CV because it serves as your introduction and your “elevator speech.” Quickly tell employers who you are, what you want to do for them, and why you are interested in their opportunity. Like your CV, your cover letter should be short and easy to read.
The paragraph after your initial introduction is the best place to address any gaps or inconsistencies in your timeline. If you don’t address them, expect employers to have questions: Why is there a time gap? Where were you and what were you doing during that time? Why did you switch residency programs? Not explaining gaps only raises red flags for many employers. Some gaps are easier to explain than others.
It is important to take the time to prepare a good cover letter. A good cover letter combined with a concise well written CV can make the difference if you move to the next step in the screening/interview process.
According to Tanja Getter, who is the lead director for the residency education program for Community Health Systems in Franklin, TN the work may seem intimidating and overwhelming at first, keep in mind that you already have the information necessary and just need to put it together in one place. Once you have done so, you’ll be on your way to creating a good CV. Remember many times you having only one chance to make a good first impression.
ESA Medical Resources specializes in the recruitment and placement of plastic surgery professionals. Our recruitment service is free to candidates seeking plastic surgery employed, partnership, or practice purchase opportunities. Please contact us to today to discuss how we can help you locate that perfect practice opportunity. Email david at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 270-266-1024.