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Here are the 3 Qualities of a Good Physician Résumé

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As physicians who are looking for jobs, you already know that writing and revising the résumé can be the hardest part of the job search.

Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, of the Physician Coaching Institute in Bellevue, Wash., has written a terrific analysis on the components of “a powerful physician résumé.”

First, Dr. Gaillour provides some perspective on the importance of the résumé versus the importance of your talent and skills as a physician.

“No physician I know obtained their big break, their non-clinical job or their bust-open-opportunity by virtue of an impressive piece of paper,” she writes. “This is not to say the résumé is not important; it is. But the résumé is only a single element of successful transition—indeed for some of you, the résumé will be irrelevant. Your own chutzpa, contacts, risk-taking, great invention, cleverness, or entrepreneurship, will dictate your success.”

In other words, don’t get too hung up on the résumé. Instead, focus on the three qualities, Dr. Gaillour writes, that make for a good physician executive résumé:

1. Shows professionalism through formatting, inclusion of appropriate details, and OMISSION of inappropriate details.

2. Lists accomplishments using appropriate ACTION verbs.

3. Demonstrates ability to SOLVE PROBLEMS FOR THE DECISION MAKER who is reading the résumé.

Backing up here, we should point out that Dr. Gaillour believes a physician should provide a résumé as opposed to a CV or curriculum vitae. Here’s why:

“A CV is a list of vital statistics, including employment, research, education, awards, publications, patents, etc.”

But a résumé is not just a list, Dr. Gaillour contends. Instead, it’s “a creative document whose objective is to persuade the reader that you have the ability to solve specific business problems.”

It’s important to note that this is Dr. Gaillour’s opinion, and she readily acknowledges that other experts will give you opposing advice. But in her opinion, your time is best spent “crafting an effective résumé. Your résumé is the document that most employers will prefer in order to discern what you can do for them. Even for employers in clinical-trials work or government research that request a CV, always have your strong executive résumé ready. If you are contemplating fields outside of these two, focus only on the résumé.”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, how do you feel about your résumé? Do you think it’s lacking in any of the three areas listed above? Does it sell you and your skills in a unique and effective way?

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