Every year selection committees for critical care jobs receive hundreds of Resumes/curriculum vitae’s (CVs) from applicants competing for a handful of positions. Applicants are typically highly ambitious individuals with a broad range of experience and achievements, however many struggle to collate this information into a succinct and impactful Resume. Given the competitive nature of these positions, it is vital that your resume is relevant, up to date, and easy to navigate. This blog aims to help you create a Resume that highlights your strengths and differentiates you from your competition.
Planning your Resume
The process of creating your resume starts well before drafting the document itself. It begins with reviewing your experience, identifying your deficiencies, and creating a plan to overcome these. Planning your resume should commence soon after you decide on the career path you wish to pursue. At this point, it is useful to review the selection criteria for your desired role so that you can tailor your Resume toward this over the subsequent years. For those interested in anaesthesia, start by reviewing the selection criteria for your state’s anaesthesia training scheme, alongside the ANZCA ‘roles of practice’ statement.
Once you are familiar with the desired candidate attributes for your preferred role, utilise the suggested resume headings below to make a list of your experiences and achievements. To determine the skills and achievements you wish to highlight in your Resume, write down 5 achievements that you are most proud of, and list 3 things that differentiate you from other candidates. Ensure these elements are clearly highlighted in your CV.
Depending on the stage of your career, the resume subheadings will be filled to varying degrees. Don’t be alarmed if you are not able to fill every heading – identifying deficiencies in your skills and experience is an important part of the process. Make a note of areas in which you wish to improve, and devise a realistic plan to achieve these goals.
When planning how to fill deficiencies in your resume, keep in mind that the selection panel will consider the time commitment and your contribution to each listed achievement or activity. Completing a graduate certificate will award you more points than a short two-day course, while original research will demonstrate a greater time commitment compared to a simple audit. Note that while much can be achieved in a short time (courses, audit, volunteering), some tasks, such as original research, will take longer to complete.
Preparing your Resume
- The standard required for applications to resident and registrar roles is high. Disregard your high school resume and start again.
- The content of your resume should be consistent for the discipline and level you are applying for.
- Your resume is not only a record of your employment, skills, and achievements, but an opportunity to summarise how these align to the skills and qualities required by the prospective role.
- Only include recent information (within 5 years, or 10 years if particularly impressive).
- Give context to roles and activities. Succinctly list your responsibilities, skills, and what you achieved.
- Only include information that you believe will add value to your application. Listing too many irrelevant achievements can make your resume difficult to assimilate.
- Outline your specific contribution to research or other activities.
- Avoid sweeping, general statements about skills.
- If you highlight a skill, provide specific evidence to support this claim.
- Place achievements that differentiate you from other candidates high up in your resume.
- Consider modifying your resume to align with the strengths of your prospective hospital – e.g. if there is a strong research focus (and this is one of your strengths) place this section higher up in your resume. If the hospital prides themselves on their perioperative service, make sure your experience in this domain is highlighted clearly.
- Small details such as formatting and spelling are important. Errors demonstrate a lack of attention to detail and look unprofessional.
- Ask multiple registrars and consultants for feedback on your resume.
It is vitally important to present the information in your resume professionally, succinctly, and clearly. Subheadings should be used to help organise your experiences and achievements in a logical way. Medical resumes are typically organised using the following subheadings. Note that the exact title of the subheadings is variable. You may wish to merge subheadings with fewer examples.
- Personal identifiers – name, demographics, photo
- Education and qualifications
- Medical training and experience
- Awards and achievements
- Leadership, advocacy, and representation
- Professional development
- Research and quality improvement
- Personal interests
The exact order of these subheadings will depend on your strengths, the role you are applying for, and the narrative you wish to convey to the reader. To assist in helping you stand out from the crowd, it is helpful to place the most relevant and impactful achievements high up in the resume, alongside achievements which differentiate you from other candidates.
- The layout should be simple, professional, and easy to navigate
- Content should be listed reverse chronologically (start with the most recent)
- This is a professional document, avoid excessive use of colour
- Use consistent formatting (font, size, spacing, indents). Consider size 11-12 Times New Roman or Calibri
- Use appropriate margins
- Consider using bold text and underlines to daw the reader’s attention to key words
- Avoid abbreviations
- Include page numbers
- Your resume should be no longer than 3 pages if possible
Candidates attribute years of time and effort into the achievements listed within their resume. Increase your competitiveness for critical care roles by familiarising yourself with the relevant selection criteria and develop a plan to overcome areas of deficiency. Allow your skills and achievements to shine by including only recent and relevant information, and by adopting a professional, consistent, and well-structured format. Do not forget to spell check, spell check, and spell check again.
For further tips on preparing your resume check out this article from the BMJ.