The CV (curriculum vitae) is an essential professional summary of your qualities as a candidate for residency, and there is no better time to start on it than as soon as possible. Not only do you need it for ERAS itself, but you’ll also need it for away rotation applications and for the faculty writing your letters of recommendation (and having your materials ready gives you the best chance of getting your LORs back promptly). Do a good job on it now and it’ll be easy to update as time goes on to reflect your latest endeavors. The Careers in Medicine CV webpage (login needed) has an excellent point-by-point summary that you should consult as you work on your CV.
The general categories on a CV generally include:
- Contact and personal info (use your full legal name)
- Education (all college level and beyond)
- Honors and Awards (if applicable)
- Work experience (especially if there are gaps in your timeline; also can include non-paying volunteer and leadership activities done during medical school)
- Research (if applicable): Publications & Presentations and conferences (often listed separately)
- Professional Memberships (if applicable, can be put with extracurricular activities)
- Extra-curricular activities (feel free to tailor the list to prevent it from being over-long and having less important activities overshadow significant ones)
- Hobbies and Interests (this grab bag is often interview fodder and sometimes are the only factors that differentiate an applicant from the pack)
One common point of contention amongst students and even mentors is whether to include activities performed before enrolling in medical school (especially college). The stance of people I agree with has been that there are two very good reasons to include an “old” thing in your CV:
- It explains a gap in time. You want to account for all time between high school and your application. If there are years between college and medical school, you need to state what you were doing.
- It coincides with a long-held or continuing interest. Examples include peer advising, research, etc. If it helps explain you as a person and you’re not simply padding the length, then don’t be scared to include something.
If you think an activity is relevant, makes you look good, or informs the reader as to who you are as a person, then don’t feel guilty about including it. Just remember the important adage: the more you write, the less they read.
Examples of properly formatted and phrased CVs can be found at the CiM CV webpage. There is no formal length requirement, but chances are it’ll fit on 2 pages unless you’ve been publishing a lot. Generally, it is organized by category and items appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Use one font (or two—one for headings and one for text). Use bullets, bold, italics, and/or indentation to keep things organized.
Keep in mind that you will put your CV into ERAS item by item, so the formatting/appearance of your CV will only be seen by your letter writers or rarely during interviews if requested.
Don’t forget to include a few hobbies/personal interests. In
many most nearly all cases, these items will be the only interesting thing you and your interviewers will talk about it.
Have your CV vetted by your specialty and faculty mentors.