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How to Create a Powerful CV
When was the last time you looked at your CV or even updated it? For me I had not touched my CV since my last summer job in the second year of Medical school.
Post CCT is a period where many doctors start trying to dig out old CVs or even write their first ever one. For me, my CV was certainly out of date and I wasn’t quite sure how to start writing a CV targeted to GP job applications. I found it hard to find any reference material and so relied on the help of some of my senior colleagues to guide me.
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In this blog I will share the key aspects of a CV and how to present it in a manner that empowers you to get the job you apply for.
What is a CV?
CV is a shortened form for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ which means ‘the course of one’s life’. Your CV should therefore reflect your life experiences and qualifications. Many jobs ask for a CV during the application process to get a snapshot of who you are and how suitable you may be for the job – and as with so any things, first impression both counts and lasts.
Things to include
It is important to keep things simple and in a logical manner. Think of what you would like to know as an employer? I find it easier to split my CV into the following headings:
- Basic details
- Career statement
- Work experience
I always ensure my name is at the top of the CV alongside my contact details, indemnity provider and GMC number. By keeping these details at the top of the page it is clear who the CV belongs to and makes it easier for the employer to contact me if they like what they see.
What is a career statement?
A career statement allows you to provide a snapshot of your career goals and future ambitions. This section can enable you to a) stand out from the crowd, as well as b) show tailoring to the job application in question.
For example, you may have applied to a ‘Salaried GP role with a view to partnership’ – so in your career statement you may wish to include that one of your career ambitions is to become a GP partner later on in your career (of course only if this is true)!
It’s best to keep this section short and to the point as most employers don’t have time to read through everyone’s whole CV – this can catch attention quickly.
Which qualifications do I include?
It is important to try and keep your CV relevant and up to date. Think about which qualifications are relevant to the job you are applying to. When applying for jobs as a newly qualified GP it is not necessary to include your GCSE or A-level qualifications, however any extra qualifications you attained at medical school or beyond may be useful.
For example you may have participated in teaching in wards, or as a junior doctor became an ALS tutor – these both may help with a job application for a role in a training practice. Maybe during training you attended a leadership course or even completed a Diploma – if you’re applying into a Super-partnership and this side of General Practice interests you, include it.
It is helpful to include your training placements in this section – this allows the practice to see the various specialities you have experience in.
I tend to list my hospital training placements and then give slightly more details about my GP placements – detailing the duties I undertook eg telephone triage, if I was involved in teaching, key responsibilities that I had and which software (Emis/Docman/EPS etc) I became familiar with.
If you have taken a career gap, try to explain why there is a gap eg 2013-2014 maternity break etc.
You may not have any publications, and this is fine. Maybe however you were involved in an interesting quality improvement exercise or an audit that impacted the practice you were at. Once again only include those that may be of interest to the practice or organisation that you are applying to.
If you still feel there may be nothing to add to this section, feel free to omit it from your CV.
Why should I include my hobbies/interests?
You don’t have to provide your interests and hobbies but by doing so it can help you stand out from the crowd. It may also be a great talking point in an interview to help break the ice.
Often hobbies can demonstrate skills and attributes that professional roles can’t – or at least enhance them. Teamwork, resilience and time management spring to mind to name a few.
Stay in touch with your Referees
References are a vital part of your CV. It is therefore important you choose the right referees based on your application. Over the years of training there are probably various supervisors that you can approach to become your referees but in most instances it is good practice to include your most recent supervisors – a potential employer will be looking for up to date references and may wonder if your last employer has not provided one.
To ensure your references are returned in a timely manner make it a point to inform your referees that you are applying for a job and make them aware that they may be contacted for a reference. This helps prepare your referee and can allow them to highlight your positive attributes in their reference related to the job.
Present your CV well
Whilst many of us get fixated with the details of a CV, we often forget about the value of presenting our CV in a professional manner. Simple steps such as ensuring the CV is typed, in a standard sans serif font and presented in a simple layout can enhance your CV’s presentation. It emphasises your professionalism and lets your employer know you care about the information you are passing on.
Often doctors present a CV that is not well spaced, or even hard to read or find information because little thought has been given towards presentation. Again it comes down to providing a strong first impression.
Ensure your CV is spell checked, ask a friend to proofread it and maybe ask your supervisor to look at it and provide any further advice – they’ve probably read a fair few CVs themselves!
A CV that highlights your best attributes is a bonus in any application process. Take time each year to update it and review it – maybe the start of every tax year is the time you decide on.
By doing so you will find your CV is always up to date and is a less burdensome process. Each year we learn new skills and become more experienced so ensure your CV is the best reflection of your career journey.
We cover CVs in more detail, as well as looking at the next few steps in the application process such as covering letter and interview, in our half day Post CCT Max Online Course – watch the sample to see how it can increase your chances of securing a job.
Good luck as always!
Dr Pooja 🙂
Dr Pooja Arora is a portfolio GP based in Birmingham. She has held local and national roles in her Medico-Political background fighting for GP trainee and GP rights. Her roles have included:
– Vice Chair Birmingham LMC
– BMA council member
– BMA General Practitioners Committee elected representative
– BMA Sessional GP committee elected representative
– BMA National Deputy Policy lead working at scale
– HEE GP ambassador
– HEE GP stage 3 assessor
– RCGP Midland Faculty AiT representative
* Blogs written by Dr Aman and Dr Pooja Arora are not for professional or medical advice. Please seek appropriate professional, legal or financial advice where appropriate *
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