Applying for a new medical role? Colin Molyneux, training and development manager at Prospect Health, shares his top CV tips
Make your CV sell you
When writing your CV you should first ask yourself: what is my CV for? Is it going to help me achieve my perfect medical job?
Your CV isn’t just a record of your employment and educational history. It’s not designed to tell a boring story, and nor should it mimic Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’.
Your CV should be a sales tool that sells you as the best candidate for the medical job you are applying for. It should be the trigger to getting you invited along to an interview for that role, and a representation of you as a “value add” potential employee.
Your CV should compete, and win in the race to get you that all important first interview. Once there, you can do the rest!
Make it easy to see you are ideal for the job
If you want your CV to be the first choice for that dream employer, you need to make it easy for the reader to see that you are indeed the ideal candidate for them. Your CV needs to emphasise the skills and experiences you hold, that make you the first choice applicant.
The way your CV is presented will also be subject to scrutiny upon first reading. Many candidates profess, in their CVs, to have a great attention to detail, and to be supreme communicators, whilst the CV contains grammatical errors, and isn’t succinct and clumsy in its construction.
Pitfalls to avoid
Although CV writing can feel like an impossible conundrum, the truth is, nearly everyone gets it wrong to some degree. Therefore, assuming you avoid some basic pitfalls, you are far more likely to get shortlisted ahead of the rest:
Lack of relevant information
The big question here is: what is relevant? Many applicants make the basic mistake of making assumptions as to what is important to the employer, and therefore end up providing very little in the way of information that is of any interest.
Research the company and the role you are applying for. (job descriptions & adverts are a good starting point). You will learn what they are looking for from the perfect applicant and you can now ensure you are communicating all the relevant skills and experiences you hold through your CV, so the recruiter can quickly see your suitability for the role.
Unsubstantiated claims of brilliance don’t work! Simply claiming to have excellent communication skills doesn’t cut the mustard. Give examples of how you have used these skills, and you are onto a winner. “I write a monthly blog on company developments as part of our social media strategy” is going to win much more favour than an empty statement.
Many people write a ‘one size fits all’ CV, and this leads to a bland CV that doesn’t sell specific skills and experiences. Make it clear as to who you are and what you do, and importantly where and how you add value!
85% of CVs contain basic spelling or grammatical errors, and are rejected on that basis. Your CV must be impeccable if you want to demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail. Always get someone to proofread your CV and cover letter before you submit them to a future employer.
Only focus on positive information. Never criticise previous employers, or refer to difficulties and disappointments, unless they were something you successfully turned around.
Poor language and grammar
The use of jargon, clumsy expressions or clichés will sabotage the chances of even the most capable candidates. Instead of the first person “I” pronoun, “I did this….” “I did that…” use positive action statements to lead bullet points such as:
- Created a marketing plan that...
- Initiated a revised process where we...
This will look much more dynamic and is easier to read and digest. The bullet points give an energetic feel to your CV and help to reinforce the message that you are an upbeat ‘can do’ type of candidate.
Make recruitment software work in your favour
When applying online, your CV is scanned by the recruitment software before human eyes even see it. The software will often reformat your CV into a generic version, and this is where overly formatted CVs fall foul of the system.
Formatting options like shaded boxes and columns interfere with the system’s ability to store your information correctly.
Ensure your CV is as plain as possible in relation to formatting. If you are uploading a PDF file, ensure it is compatible with the Web Portal being used.
Recruiters will also use keyword searches to match the best candidates to jobs – make sure your CV contains the keywords and statements likely to be used.
- Research the company you are applying to and ensure your CV exactly matches what the client is looking for
- Prove what a great candidate you are by including examples of achievements and improvements you have made
- Try not to over-elaborate, and be succinct. A CV DOES NOT NEED TO BE TWO PAGES, but it shouldn’t be a huge volume of pages either
- Proofread your CV, and thoroughly check for any errors, ensuring it makes sense
- Always write a cover letter that justifies why you are applying, and why you are the right person for the role
- Be negative and critical of previous employers. Your CV needs to be a positive reflection of you
- Don’t attach a photo unless one is requested
- Don’t rely on just one CV. One size does not fit all
- Don’t use fancy layouts and formatting. This can easily get reformatted badly when it is printed off by the recruiter
Finally, don’t get disheartened. If you are not being called for interview to jobs that you know you know are a good fit for, seek some sort of guidance from a recruitment consultancy or similar organisations that operate in your chosen career field. You may be making a basic error that is easily corrected.