Developing a Strong Curriculum Vitae (CV) in Healthcare

Original Editor - Naomi Algeo

Top Contributors - Wanda van Niekerk and Jess Bell  

Curriculum Vitae[edit | edit source]

‘Curriculum Vitae’ stems from the Latin ‘course of life’ and is often shortened to ‘CV’.

The term CV is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘resume’, which is more popular in North America. However, there are differences between the two. Typically, in European countries, a CV is approximately two pages long. This can change depending on the job application requirements or the geographical area in which the job is based. A resumé, on the other hand, is often a one-page summary of someone’s career history depicting "a short account of one’s career and qualifications."[1] It is important to remember that a CV is not the sole criterion for a position, but rather an entry ticket to a holistic application process.[2]

Contact/Personal Details[edit | edit source]

The first item on your CV should be your name. Your name will typically be formatted in a larger font size than the other text and be bolded.[3] Other essential elements to include are your:

  • email address (preferably use an email address with an affiliation as this can appear more professional)
  • location
  • telephone number

You do not need to include your date of birth, marital status or nationality; these items should not impact your job application, so they can be left off your CV.[4]

Some CVs include a LinkedIn profile address. Only include your LinkedIn address if your profile tells the employer more than what is outlined in your CV. Your LinkedIn should be considered an extension of your CV, so it can include supplementary information that you may not have room for in your CV.

Profile/Summary[edit | edit source]

This section is not always included in a CV, but it can be useful if you are a new graduate or if you are changing career direction. Some key items to consider:

  • avoid being vague in your profile
  • tailor it to your experience
    • ask yourself:
      • 'could one of my colleagues/classmates copy and paste and use this profile?'
      • "what makes me stand out?
  • when you are describing core skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for, ask if you have provided evidence to support that you have these skills?
  • keep it to three sentences:
    • who I am
    • skills (backed up with evidence)
    • call for action (what I am seeking)

Poor example: I am a physiotherapy student who is hard-working, driven and passionate about physiotherapy. I am a strong communicator and work well in a team. I’m excited to start my career as a physiotherapist and look forward to hearing from you.

Good example: I am a final year physiotherapy student at the University of Physiopedia, with a first-class honours grade average. I have strong skills in communication and innovation, as evidenced by distinction grades in these competencies during my last placement assessment. I am seeking employment as a physiotherapist in acute therapies as I am eager to develop my knowledge and skill set in this area following on from a recent placement at Physiopedia Hospital.

Education[edit | edit source]

Your education should be in reverse chronological order, meaning that your most recent degree or achievement is first. Avoid listing all your modules and accompanying grades. Instead, if you have completed your degree, include your overall grade. If you are in the middle of completing the programme, you can write ‘Current grade average: ___’, and include what your current grade is. Avoid using phrases such as ‘Aiming to achieve X grade’, as there is no evidence to back this up. Using your current grade average is best practice.

When listing your degrees, name the degree first, followed by the institution from which you were awarded the degree. For example, ‘BSc (Occupational Therapy), University of Physiopedia’.

Experience[edit | edit source]

Like the education section, experience should be in reverse chronological order, meaning that your most recent job roles are first.To be consistent, list the job role first, followed by the organisation you worked for. You may have gained similar experience in your roles, but try to avoid repetition where possible. If the job you are applying for is a clinical position, it may be useful to list your clinical experience under one heading. Likewise, if the job you are applying for is an academic position, research or teaching experience could be front-ended in the CV under its own heading.

Achievements[edit | edit source]

If applicable, list any major achievements, honours or awards received in reverse chronological order.

Skills[edit | edit source]

Skills are typically divided into ‘soft’ skills and ‘hard’ skills. Soft skills include skills, such as communication, teamwork, planning and innovation. Hard skills, on the other hand, can be more technical, such as Java, data analysis using SPSS and Microsoft Excel.

Scholarly Activity[edit | edit source]

When applying for roles in academia, or where research may be a core responsibility of a role, scholarly activity can be included (e.g., publication list, oral or poster presentations, etc). In addition, research metrics such as h-index or i-10 could support scholarly impact.[5] Where publication or congress/conference lists are long, consider adding them as supplementary information. In recent years, alternative metrics, also known as altmetrics, measure public engagement with research activity and are actively being considered as another valuable metric to assess academic activity.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

It is good practice to include references (usually 2 to 3). Consider the job applied for and potential referees who may be suitable. For example, if you are applying for an academic role, make sure you include at least one referee who has an academic background. At a minimum, include the referee’s full name (with title if relevant), job role or relationship to you (e.g., Supervisor), and organisation, with a work email address. It is good practice to ask a referee permission to include their details on your CV.

Layout[edit | edit source]

The presentation of a CV is important. In a 2018 eye-tracking study by Ladders Inc, it was found that employers spent an initial 7.4 seconds screening a CV.[7] Common CV mistakes to avoid:

  1. Bad grammar
  2. Spelling mistakes
  3. Poor formatting
  4. CV longer than two pages
  5. Casual tone
  6. Use of jargon
  7. Unusual font style or size
  8. Exam grades listed in full
  9. Generic interests listed, such as cooking or reading
  10. Lack of activities related to personal development

Automated Screening[edit | edit source]

With advancements in technology, some organisations now use automated systems to process the initial screening of CVs.[8] These systems typically screen for keywords and phrases which are related to the role and organisation.

  • Keywords:
    • While many may be tempted to list keywords in their CV, it is important that there is context. For example, an automated machine may pass a CV which states, ‘I’m a team-player, with excellent communication, problem-solving abilities, innovation and initiative’. However, this will mean very little to a recruiter who then sieves through the shortlisted applicants. Therefore, consider the job description for the role, highlight key responsibilities and skills, and then thread these into your experience and education to provide context. As described in the Plus course, Developing a Strong Curriculum Vitae in Healthcare, it is important to back up and support skills with evidence and experience.
  • Accuracy
    • Interestingly, as software becomes more sophisticated, some systems can fact-check via the Internet whether what is listed on your CV is correct (e.g., on LinkedIn). Ensure that any information online is accurate.
  • Spelling and grammar
    • Proofread your CV to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Format
    • Ensure that the file that you upload is in the correct format (e.g., PDF if specified). Some systems may reject specific formats or misread others.
  • Acronyms and titles
    • It is impossible to know if a system is programmed to search for an acronym, full title, or both. Therefore, it may be useful to consider both. For example, ‘I am a Senior Occupational Therapist (OT)’.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Merriam‐Webster . Resume. Accessed September 2023. https://www.merriam‐
  2. Davenport D, Natesan S, Caldwell MT, Gallegos M, Landry A, Parsons M, Gottlieb M. Faculty recruitment, retention, and representation in leadership: an evidence-based guide to best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2022 Jan;23(1):62.
  3. Gottlieb M, Promes SB, Coates WC. A guide to creating a high‐quality curriculum vitae. AEM Education and Training. 2021 Aug;5(4).
  4. Lacroux A, Martin‐Lacroux C. Anonymous résumés: An effective preselection method?. International Journal of Selection and Assessment. 2020 Mar;28(1):98-111.
  5. Zaorsky NG, O’Brien E, Mardini J, Lehrer EJ, Holliday E, Weisman CS. Publication productivity and academic rank in medicine: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Academic Medicine. 2020 Aug 1;95(8):1274-82.
  6. Chen J, Wang Y. Social media use for health purposes: systematic review. Journal of medical Internet research. 2021 May 12;23(5):e17917.
  7. The Ladders Eye Tracking Study. 2018. Available from (last accessed 08 September 2023)
  8. Fenech R. Human Resource Management in a Digital Era Through the Lens of Next Generation Human Resource Managers. Journal of Management Information & Decision Sciences. 2022 Jan 2;25.