After graduating from dental school, creating a successful CV will grow your confidence as you apply for an associateship or a residency program. Whichever route you decide to take in your professional career, you’ll want to present yourself as a knowledgeable and professional candidate who would be an ideal fit. The CV is the first thing that crosses the interviewer's desk or computer screen, and within five minutes of reviewing your qualifications, a first impression will be made. Therefore, it’s important to make those five minutes count, and create an effective and concise CV that drives the point home of why you should be in that next position.
With so many do’s and don’ts surrounding resume writing and your CV, deciding where and how to make changes might cause a bit of hesitancy. Put your doubts to the side and take a look at these recommendations for creating your perfect CV:
As previously mentioned, the primary objective of the CV is to highlight your achievements and skills in the field, while complementing them with relevant details that provide additional context or further address the big accomplishments in your career. The CV should be easy to read and flow from section to section. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to include and not include in your CV, think about what milestones you have achieved that would stand out if you were to describe them to someone. What makes you different? What is your main selling point that the owner dentist or program director should be aware of?
When you get that major interview, the interviewer will base many of his talking points on what is shown on your CV. Therefore, while it’s crucial to create a CV that highlights your relevant experience, qualifications, activities, awards, and interests, you can’t get by on achievement alone. It can be beneficial to form anecdotes from the content on your CV, should they arise when brought up during the interview. This way, you can be less worried about memorizing the key facts and stats of your dental school career, and more focused on telling stories and experiences in a conversational manner. When you’re comfortable during the interview, you can steer it organically into mentioning these key credentials and specific figures. Keep in mind: Your tone, body language, and pleasant attitude is just as important as how qualified you are for the position.
The key is to keep your CV consistent and easy to read. Use a simple font and white space to break up large blocks of text. Don’t be too concerned with graphics or fancy templates. Keep your most important information first in bullet point format, and don’t include any unnecessary information (outdated work experience, hobbies, jargon, etc.). You’ll want to keep your CV short, with a two- to three-page maximum limit.
Some things you may want to include:
- Shadowing experience
- Publications (blogs, news, etc.)
- Professional organizations, associations, or other positions you’ve held
- Awards and recognitions, being as specific as possible to add perspective to your experience
- Outreach and volunteer work
- Speaking credits or posters presented
Things to Keep in Mind
As each position is unique, adjust your CV to the specific role you’re applying for (a recruiter will only spend so much time reviewing it). You’ll want to wow the practice owner or program director with as much relevant information as you can fit in those compact two pages. After reviewing the requirements of the job at hand, ask yourself some personal questions: What do they need? What can I do for them? How does my experience best work for what they’re looking for? How can I best represent myself for them?
You’ll want to include each of the following details:
- Personal details
- Education and/or qualifications
- Work experience and previous employment
If you go over the two- to three-page limit, remove some of the less important sections (such as skills and interests). Ask a peer or faculty advisor for recommendations on potential adjustments to ensure you have an outside perspective as well.
At this point, you’ve probably got more than enough information to help you in your quest to create the perfect CV. However, what are some major things to avoid when collecting and crafting your history?
You’ll want to be honest and accurate, so be sure not to skew any details to your advantage, and fact check every item to make sure each is up to date. Don’t include too many personal details. Besides your basic contact information, things like your age, race, gender, etc. do not need to be included; awards and memberships are far more important. Don’t try to be fancy with design elements, shading, or waste any space because of it. As discussed, being concise and neat is the name of the game, and anything to distract the reader will certainly cause them to pass over on you.
If you can afford it, resume writing services (which can also tackle LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, etc.) can be a worst-case scenario option if you feel your resume is lacking that “kick” to get you hired. Otherwise, try finding a good template online and working from there (the CV templates on Google Docs, for example, could be a good place to start).
Don’t be lazy in your writing and the way you present yourself. Use action “punch” words to really make the initiation (e.g., you led the team, you managed that organization). Keep your projects, your actions, and the results you achieved in mind. Where possible, add statistics (percentages, numbers) to quantify the impact you made.
The main purpose of a CV is to demonstrate your key skills and achievements and how they can best be utilized for the job at hand. However, no matter how great you make your CV, it won’t do everything to get that ideal job. Try your hand at our numerous resources on interviewing that’ll help you ace your next interview!
Further reading and examples:The Young Dentist: Tips On How To Write A Good CV