Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a critical tool in advancing your career and it is therefore important to craft this document carefully. In the case of the CV, your “message” is you. The CV needs to be clearly designed and well-organized in order to best reflect you and your experience.
Summarizing your education, honors, professional experience, qualifications, research, publications, personal information and more, into one succinct, easy to read document can be a challenge. We hope that the tips and resources below help you begin.
- Know the institution’s CV guidelines. Whether you’re applying internally for a promotion or new, outside opportunity, this is critical.
- Tailor your CV to the opportunity you are seeking. Some jobs may require you to emphasize your teaching experience, others may focus on research or clinical experience. There are differences between an academic CV and a non-academic one—be sure to know which type you need to be using for the position you are seeking.
- Develop a process by which you regularly add information to your CV—preferably updating it with each lecture, publication, award, etc. Waiting to add to your CV right before you need it is more difficult and makes it likely that you’ll forget things. Consider your CV a “living document.”
- Don’t add new information unless the item has already taken place. For example, don’t include a lecture you’re giving next month until after it has occurred. If the lecture is canceled for some reason, you’re likely to forget to take it off the CV.
- Cross reference items on the CV wherever possible. For example, if you publish five articles from your thesis/dissertation, make reference to the articles where you mention your dissertation and where you can find them in the CV. (Be sure to number the publications in the bibliography of your CV.)
- Don’t pad your CV. Reviewers see through this and it could seriously undermine your credibility!
- Have a respected colleague or mentor read your CV and give feedback. Not only can they help you avoid typos, but they can offer advice on how the document is organized.
- Be sure there are no errors/typos! This simple rule is critical, as your CV reflects you, your career, and your accomplishments. Are you trying to inform, explain, persuade?
There is no one, right way to organize a CV. That said, there is a generally accepted format. Also, your academic institution may have guidelines that you must follow so check with your advisors or other senior faculty there before you begin to write. Again, always be honest! Of course, do not embellish your CV or include false information.
Generally, categories that you want to include on your CV are:
Present Academic Rank and Position
Board Certification (include month, year and board certificate number if you know it. Include national boards and their parts if you have them.)
Medical Licensure (list state & license number)
Honors & Awards
Military Service (if applicable)
Professional Experience (academic research & clinical—list chronologically)
Teaching Experience (list dates & courses taught, chairmanships, advisory positions)
Editorial Experience (list membership on editorial or review boards)
Institutional, Departmental, and Divisional Administrative Responsibilities, Committee Memberships, and Other Activities
Professional & Society Memberships (include dates & offices held)
Visiting Professorships (dates, place & title)
Presentations at National Meetings (dates, meeting names, places & topics)
Presentations at International Meetings (dates, meeting names, places, topics)
Clinical Practice, Interests & Accomplishments
Research Grants Awarded (list grant number & title, dates & Category 1 time)
Personal (list a few hobbies, interests, languages, etc. that may create points of contact with potential employers)
Number each entry so that they are easy to locate when you refer to them elsewhere in the document. Put your name in bold face.
Publications—Journals (Published, “In Press,” “Submitted,” “In Preparation”)—place these in separate sections for peer reviewed publications and non-peer reviewed. Also separate your research publications from your editorial publications.
Publications—Abstracts, Editorials, Book Chapters
Note: Be careful about noting too many abstracts and not enough articles—abstracts are easier to publish but take away from your research publication time. You don’t want them to dominate your CV and skew perceptions about your publications.
Again, this format is only a guide. Be sure to find out if your institution or the program you’re applying for has a specific format that you must follow. Also, if you have significant experience in an area that isn’t listed here, add it where it makes sense. You may have subheads that differ slightly from those above.
- Keep your font simple and stick to it throughout. Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Tahoma and Garamond are good choices. Use 10, 11, or 12 point depending on the font.
- Avoid using italics and underlining. You can use bold, capitalization or a slightly larger font to make your sub-heads stand out.
- Use a header with your name on each page.
- Number all pages.
- Print the CV on high quality white or ivory paper.
- Have your colleagues or mentor proofread your draft CV!
If you are an International medical graduate (IMG) or a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG), be sure to mention your visa status.
Leighton Chan, MD
Paul Eleazer, MD
Michael Harper, MD
National Institutes of Health
American College of Physicians