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« Physician Writing & Publishing | Main | Seven Steps To Freeing Primary Care Of Insurance »

Transition Tool For Physicians #1: Turning Your CV Into A Resume

In my coaching work with physicians, one of my favorite things that many of my clients do is send me their CV so that I can get a feel for who they are and what they've done.

Those CVs, while usually an impressive (and lengthy) foray into their education, academic experience, clinical positions and copious lectures and publications, often leave me still questioning who they are are what they bring to the table when considering a career outside of the clinical realm.

You know your CV:  a long list of your academic degrees, certifications, clinical positions, appointments and publications.  By now in your career it is probably 10-20 pages at least.  It reflects your professional position and progression.  But it has no place in a non-clinical career search.

Let me tell you why.

Industries outside of medicine are not the place for drawn-out reviews of where you've been, what you've done.  Instead of a CV, these environments require you to have a resume, a persuasive document that reflects who you are (your unique combination of skills, experiences and passion), and what you've accomplished (that is, problems you've solved) as a professional.

The best resumes also reflect how you will be able to solve the particular need / problem that your target industry or company faces.  They are tailored and individualized to the reader.

Granted, developing a resume like this take work.  Many docs, who yes, are extremely busy, decide that they want to skip this step and instead turn their 20-page CV over to a professional resume writing service that within a few weeks (and hundreds of dollars later) turns back to them a polished, slick, great-sounding resume.  But here's the problem:  often those resumes are just that, great "sounding", but with the guts that describe you and helps the prospective employer understand how you will add value to them.  A great-sounding resume can begin to feel very hollow if it doesn't address the unique challenges of a target industry (company, job role, etc.) but instead speaks in generalities of skills or experience.  It will quickly find itself on the pile of many other great-sounding resumes, which are also devoid of real content that brings (and keeps) employers' attention.

 You need to change your CV to a resume, and you need to make it stand out.  So how do you start?

Get to know the difference between a CV and a resume

CVs are typically lists of your "vitals":  your education, employment, research, publications, awards, patents, etc.  Resumes are meant to be persuasive descriptions of who you are and what you bring to the table, ones that demonstrate to any given reader that you can solve their unique business problem.  Your resume is less about you... instead it should tell your prospective employer what you can do for them.

Learn how to speak to your experience/expertise as a set of accomplishments

Rather than listing out previous job responsibilities or skills, look at your background in terms of the results you've achieved.  Think hard about what you've accomplished over the course of your career so far, brainstorm them out and frame your professional experience around those.

Use powerful, persuasive words to frame your accomplishments

Not just sound-bites (which can come off as "sales-pitchy"), but actual challenges you've faced, things you've done to address them, and results you've achieved ... particularly as they relate to the position/company/industry you're interested in.

Tailor it to resonate with whoever is reading your resume

Recognize that your resume is a living document - it will change and morph over time, with the addition of new accomplishments and different audiences who read it.  Your first pass is just that - your first pass.  Make sure your resume evolves along with you - update it regularly and for whoever is considering it.

Keep your resume in its place

Developing their resume is often the first place an eager, ambitious physician wants to start.  But recognize that in the grand scheme of physician career transition, the creation of a resume is not the number one step in a successful career transformation!  It is not likely that your big-break, your non-clinical job, or your "big opportunity" will come as a result of an impressive piece of paper.  This is not to say that the resume is not important - it is - but it is only a single element of a successful transition.

Make sure that you've done your homework first, to understand how you uniquely add value to any given industry or role.  Through a thorough analysis of your values, your unique skills, your passions, your education/past experience, you will see what you bring to the table as a whole, and how it applies to the role you're interested in.  You as a physician come with a myriad of transferable skills that can (and will) benefit companies in different industries.  But without this analysis, you cannot build a persuasive resume that hits the target "pain points"  of any given employer and demonstrates how you will solve their problem (and that you can).

With some thought and customization you can take your CV from an academic exercise to a compelling representation of you that makes people want to talk to you.  Start at the beginning.  Think about your accomplishments and how they relate to your target audience.  Make it about them, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how it is received.  Good luck!

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