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Developing or Updating Your CV and Cover Letter

For initial contacts with a practice or facility, a cover letter accompanied by a curriculum vitae (CV) is recommended. A CV provides a detailed synopsis of skills, experience and education as well as extensive data about publications, presentations and other academic activities.

Preparing Your CV

Keep in mind that most prospective employers will see your CV before they see you. Your CV will either open or close the door to an interview, so you will want to make it effective. The following tips are here to help ensure that your documents create the appropriate professional impression.

CV Tips

  • Use an easy-to-read font. Arial, Times and New Roman are popular fonts. Keep fonts consistent throughout your materials. An eleven- or twelve-point font is ideal.
  • Center your contact information at the top. Be sure to include your name, credentials, personal and professional addresses, personal phone numbers, and personal email address(es).
  • Write your CV so it flows well, is concise and is easy to follow. Use "white space" generously to help draw the reader's eye to important information.
  • Data such as reference information, dates and exact titles are needed to verify information.
  • List education, training, employment, etc. in reverse chronological order.
  • If there are gaps of time in your education, training or employment sequences, be sure to account for this in the CV or explain in the cover letter.
  • The length of your CV may range from 1-3 pages for a recent graduate; however, for someone with extensive professional experience, research, and/or published works, a CV could run 20 – 30 pages or more. If your CV is more than one page, each additional page should have a 'heading' including your name and the page number.
  • Include everything you have done and can be classified as work outside the home, whether paid or unpaid.
  • Review your CV every 6 months to update it with professional presentations, publications, research, etc.
  • Proofread and double proofread all documents. Then have a friend or colleague proofread. Spelling or grammatical errors will create a poor first impression.
  • Choose the same formatting for your cover letter as used in your CV, e.g. font, margin settings, etc.
  • Email or mail your CV with a concise cover letter. Find out what format the practice or employer prefers to receive CVs.

Power Verbs for Physicians and Providers

Below are some examples of power verbs to help you develop your CV. You will want to utilize a thesaurus to expand your list – these will help to get you started.

  • Assessed and treated adolescents in a foster group home setting.
  • Authored parenting handouts for parents with premature infants.
  • Chaired the Family Practice Center patient education committee.
  • Collaborated with faculty to revise geriatrics rotation, incorporating an on-site primary care geriatric assessment team.
  • Conducted patient satisfaction interviews.
  • Counseled patients with acute depression.
  • Developed special interest in adolescent medicine with an elective that included providing visits to foster homes.
  • Established a patient flow committee to improve flow in the office.
  • Facilitated the formation of a geriatric assessment team.
  • Formed a local neighborhood team for disaster preparedness.
  • Implemented telephone medicine protocols for managed care patients.
  • Improved patient compliance in the treatment of asthma.
  • Managed the family practice booth at a large health fair.
  • Mentored a group of high school students interested in medical careers.
  • Motivated nursing staff to work efficiently through a special project.
  • Participated as a resident physician gatekeeper for local utilization management committee meetings.
  • Precepted nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical students in the office.
  • Revised a series of pediatric acute care patient handouts for the Family Practice Center during senior year.
  • Translated well-child handouts for Spanish-speaking patients.

Cover Letter Tips

For initial contacts with a practice representative, a cover letter accompanied by a curriculum vita (CV) is recommended.

  • Keep your letter focused, accurate, and interesting. The best cover letters are sophisticated, straightforward, purposeful and succinct. One page is highly recommended.
  • Do not use a form letter. Research the job opportunity and tailor the contents of the letter to the job.
  • Address your letter to a person, not “To Whom it May Concern.” Research the contact person’s name.
  • Proofread your draft for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Does it say what you want it to say? Ask a friend or colleague to review it for you.

FAQs about cover letters

Do I need to send a cover letter with every CV I submit?

Answer: There are times when cover letters are not necessary (i.e., on campus interviews, at Job Fairs). In most cases, especially when you initiate contact, it is a good idea to include one. If in doubt, send a cover letter.

Doesn’t the cover letter repeat the same information listed on my CV?

Answer: The cover letter is usually read before your CV and may highlight or refer to specific information on your CV The cover letter allows you to state why you are interested and explains in more depth your responsibilities, roles and skills. It should be interesting to read and unique to your experiences and interests.

Will I come across as boastful if I write about my strengths? I feel uncomfortable 'bragging.'

Answer: If you carefully plan your letter and communicate effectively, you can avoid sounding boastful. Do not simply state your strengths; give concrete examples of how you have developed skills and used your talents. Allow other people to proofread your letter and be willing to listen to their feedback. It is very important for you to be able to articulate your abilities and confidence with since.