As one of the professional resume, cover letter, and personal statement writers on the staff of The Doctor Job, I have seen thousands of different physician resumes: The short, the long, the thorough, the sparse. While every physician’s resume is sure to look a little different, there are some common guidelines each doctor should follow when constructing and editing their resume.
- Keep it concise. Unlike its European counterpart (a CV), a resume should not be a lengthy document. The ideal physician resume is one page. The somewhat less than ideal (but still acceptable under certain circumstances) resume is two pages. Period. There are no circumstances that accommodate for the twenty-page resume. An easy way to edit down your document is to remove any personal interest sections or references, as these are no longer appropriate on a professional resume.
- Highlighting versus elaborating. Let’s say you are a physician with an extensive research background in your respective field. Naturally you’d like to explain each study; after all, you invested a significant amount of time researching. Fight this instinct. A resume is designed to highlight professional experience, not to explain it in detail. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential employer. You’re tired, you’re busy, and you have a stack of physicians’ resumes to flip through. Would you rather look at a simple, neat list of research studies or chunks of paragraphs describing the laboratory setting? Highlighting. It’s a beautiful word. Wow them with snapshots of your experience; do not overwhelm them with a narrated slide show.
- Reverse chronological order. In each section, begin with your most recent experience and move backwards. Not only will this aid your potential employer in creating a mental timeline of your professional history, it tends to show you in the best light. Typically the most relevant experience you have is also the most recent. For example, if you had a section on your resume for Education and Training, your fellowship (most relevant) would be listed before your residency (still relevant) which would be listed before your medical school (less relevant) which would be listed before your undergraduate school (barely relevant), according to reverse chronological order.
- If you’re a foreign medical graduate, potential employers like to see your citizenship/visa status. And it actually works toward your advantage to be upfront about this regardless of your status. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can include this information if you went to a foreign medical school – otherwise, if you did your undergrad, medical school, and residency in the US, it will be assumed. Likewise, including your visa status shows a potential employer that you are upfront and honest, ready to make the visa process as smooth as possible for them.
These are just a few tips, but they will help you make sure that your resume is cleaner, easier to read, and more likely to get you interviews. For further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at The Doctor Job!