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Curriculum Vitae Tips: Choosing the Right Format and Title

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An important tip when job hunting is to choose the correct file format for your Curriculum Vitae. You should save your CVs to an Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word Document, or a Text File because these are the most commonly used formats. Text files are a great format, because they can be opened by any computer without the reader having to install or purchase additional software. However, text files do not allow the creator to use any formatting. This is great for content, but a CV created in a Text File format is not as aesthetically pleasing as other formats.

Most physicians use Microsoft Word to create their CVs, and this is a perfectly acceptable format. However there are some drawbacks to using Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word has come compatibility issues between the different versions of the software. If a physician has the newest version of the software and saves a CV to the new format, then users with the older version of the software will be unable to open the CV. For this reason, all CVs created by Microsoft Word should be saved in the "Microsoft Word 97-2003" format as most computers will be able to read this format. CVs in Microsoft Word formats also have some security concerns that will be discussed a little later.

The optimal format to save a CV in is Adobe PDF. A PDF file does require additional software to view, however the format is so common that virtually all computers already have the free Adobe Reader software installed. PDF files are usually not editable and therefore have much greater security. The challenge with creating an Adobe PDF file, is that it usually requires you to purchase expensive software to create the file. However, there are now several free software programs available that will enable you to convert their CVs to a PDF format from any other format. We recommend CutePDF, because it is free and is as simple as printing a page.


One of the most overlooked elements of a CV is the title of the document. Most physicians save their CV with a generic title such as "CV.doc" The challenge is that most recruiters receive hundreds of CVs with the name "CV.doc". Physicians who use generic titles for their CV run the risk of having their CV get lost before it ever makes it past a recruiters desk.

To eliminate any confusion, you should title your documents with your name, specialty, CV version, and possibly date. For example: "J Smith-Internist-General CV-Dec2010.doc". CVs with a title similar to this one minimize the risk of the document being lost.

Try to exclude symbols other than a "-" because some older computers may not be able to open documents with other symbols within the title.

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