Job Search and Professional Development Guide

Anchal Ghai, MD

Curriculum Vitae

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a chance to really showcase yourself and your accomplishments to your future employer.  It should be geared towards the type of position you are applying for (ie: academic, community, fellowship).  Make sure to have a list of references and a cover letter as well as your CV.

On this page you’ll get a common list of do’s and don’ts adapted from multiple resources.  Also here are a few sample CV’s (sample 1, sample 2, sample 3) so you can decide on the type of style you like and different things that you can include. 

The easiest way to start your CV is to look at one you already have and edit it for the current position that you are applying to.  You all had to make a CV to apply to residency; start with that and simply edit.  It’s easier to edit something than start from scratch. 

Below are some titles of areas you can include in your CV.  You can feel free to title anything you want and move things around; these are just some examples to help you construct your CV. 

Format of the CV

Personal Details:

Don’t title your CV with the words CV - it should simply be titled with your name and then have personal information included such as contact information and e-mail address. (Make sure your e-mail address is professional sounding!!)


This is the part where you list all residency programs attended, medical schools, and undergraduate degrees.  You don’t need to go as far back as High School.  You don’t even need to list undergraduate degrees in here, but you can if you wish.

Professional Appointments:

This may be something not everyone has on their CV.  This is where you would put that you were Chief Resident.  Some residency programs give a title to their residents such as assistant clinical instructor, you can place that information in this section.  

Leadership Activities:

Like the prior subject, not everyone will have this in their CV.  This is the area where you can write other accomplishments or leadership activities that make you stand out.  For example, if you were on the NY ACEP Emergency Medicine Resident Committee, this is where that would go. 

Committee Participation:

This is where you can place committees that you were involved in.  This is very similar to the title above except it may be things that maybe you didn’t have as much active participation in.  That way you place them on the CV but in a different area.  For example, some residency programs place you automatically on the Performance Improvement committee because you participate in Morbidity and Mortality conference every month.  This would be where you would place that.


You can place any type of research experience in this section.  For some this section can be quite large so I would only pick the studies you wish to showcase.  For others this may not be large at all.  For those people with not a lot of research experience you can place things here that you participated in but didn’t publish, for example if you were just a research assistant this would be the place to put it. 


In this section you can place any large presentations that you’ve given.  For example if you happen to have done a poster board presentation for your research this is where you can place that.  It can also be any presentation you made at a conference; for example, if you gave a presentation on what it’s like to be a resident at the medical student symposium.


In this section you can place any publications that you have.  Now this may include any research of yours that’s been published, which can include anything from a visual diagnosis to a large randomized control trial.  This is also an area where you can place things that have been published that is not research related.  If you happen to have an opinion piece published in the EMRA newsletter this is where it goes. 


This is the area where you place any lectures that you’ve done including morning report.  This can be as large or as small as you wish.  These would be lectures that you gave medical students, or during conference. 

Work Experience:

Some people have other work experience not related to residency they may wish to place on their CV.  I would recommend you place things that show great achievement or are related to the field that you wish to go into.  Don’t place that you worked at McDonalds during high school; it neither shows a great achievement nor is it related to your current field of work. 

Professional Affiliations:

This is the area where you can list all the clubs you are a member of, for example ACEP, SAEM etc.  I would only include relevant clubs in here (being part of the chess club doesn’t belong here.)  But if you happen to be part of a fraternity or sorority I would still place that on your CV as a lot of these organizations are nationwide and may help you during interviews.


This is the area where you list all certifications you have which include ATLS, ACLS, BLS etc.


Make sure to list that you have your NY State License.  Don’t put your license number on the CV. 


At the end of your CV should be your references.  Make sure to have at least 3 references.  You can place the contact information directly on the CV or write “available on request” this is up to you.  If you decide not to have the references on your CV make sure to have a copy of them with you when you interview.

CV Tips

  • Make sure to have it printed on white or off white paper.  CV’s are normally e-mailed now but it’s good to have a few copies with you when you go to interviews.
  • Make sure your e-mail address is professional.
  • Length of a CV when you’re just out of residency is usually about 2-3 pages.  Don’t try and cram everything into one page it’s not feasible or expected.
  • Make sure to list information in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent things are seen first on the list.
  • You can place the dates of things to either the right or left of the CV, it depends on preference.
  • Try and describe your position and responsibility as often as possible on your CV.  For example if you’re writing that you are a mentor describe what that means.  Make sure to use action words such as you developed, mentored, etc. 
  • Most people have a hard time reading beyond the first page.  Try to include the most impressive things about you within the first page.
  • Make sure that you aren’t leaving your last page with half the page blank.  This can sometimes be fixed with formatting but if not then try and see what you can take out or add to help fix this.
  • Make sure to have somebody proof-read it multiple times!!!  It also helps to have it read by different people. 

Cover Letter

So I like to think of the Cover Letter as the personal statement of a job except a whole lot easier.  The cover letter is where you’re really trying to sell yourself.  There are many breakdowns to how to write a cover letter and a lot of different ways to do it; below is just an example on how to break it down.  There will be a few examples of cover letters (sample 1, sample 2) to see writing styles. 

I like to break a cover letter down to three main parts because it just makes it easier to organize, you can however have as many paragraphs as you wish. 


Usually this is where you introduce yourself to the reader and state your intent.  It may be something like "I am completing my residency for ... at ... and am interested in the position of ..." The wording can be varied to fit what you wish to say.  But this area is mainly describing yourself, where you trained at and what type of position you’re looking for in their department.


This is the meat of the letter and basically where you sell yourself.  This will be different for everyone depending on the type of position you’re applying for.  This is the area where you are basically saying why you’re the absolute best person for the job and describe your proof.  For example if you are applying to a job in California and you’re from New York this would be the area where you describe why you want to go California and how important it is to you. 

Let’s say you’re applying for an academic position - this is the area where you highlight your achievements to show why you are qualified for that position (eg: leadership positions, research or anything else that highlights how you stand out from others).  But remember that you’re not regurgitating your CV here - pick one thing and talk about it. 

A lot of people use this area to give facts about their residency program which is always a good idea. For example if you’re applying to a different state they probably don’t know your program really well you need to prove to them that you were trained at an institution that prepares you for anything you see at their hospital. 


    This is the wrap up. In one or two sentences you need to highlight why you’re the best person for that job. Make sure you tell them again that you are interested in the position and would like to meet them. And write a few sentences about how you will have your CV attached. 

Cover Letter Tips:

  • Make sure to bring a copy of your cover letter with you along with your CV and references to the interview
  • Try to make it fit on one page, a ½ a page cover letter doesn’t look good. 
  • Don’t regurgitate your CV!! The point of the cover letter is to give them more information about why you’re the best candidate for their job position.
  •  Go into more detail on things that make your stand out as a candidate 
  • Make sure to sign the printed copy of your Cover Letter
  • Most people email their CV, in that case think of the email as your Cover letter; it should say the same points but not necessarily as long. 
  • Make sure to customize your cover letter to the job you’re applying to. If you’re applying to both academic and community hospitals you’re going to need 2 different cover letters. 


Be prepared for the interview questions

  • The best thing to do is write down bullet point answers to the most common questions asked so you’re not fumbling around thinking up an answer.
  • Most of the questions are pretty straight forward.
  • Attached will be some common interview questions to help you prepare.
  • There are many interview questions but they all tend to revolve around similar theme.
  • When answering try and be concise don’t go off on random tangents.
  • Try and provide examples when answering the questions.
  • Be honest. If there is something you know that pops up on your records that they will ask you about just be honest and answer truthfully don’t dance around the issue.

Dress appropriately!

  • Wear a grey or dark blue suit.
  • For women pant suits are preferable. It may be hot but wearing a skirt suit can be seen as inappropriate but some conservative people.
  • Brightly colored clothing is great but is probably not a good idea during interview time.

Know your CV

  • Make sure to know your CV back and front. If you can’t talk about something on your CV at great lengths make sure to take it out. 
  • Anything written on the CV is fair game during interviews.

Arrive early

  •  You definitely don’t want to be late it leaves a poor impression, so it’s better to be really early.

Send a thank you note 

  • It doesn’t have to be hand written it can be an email but send it!!
  • Write down the names of everyone you interview with that day, or get their cards so you can send them a thank you e-mail afterwards.
  • I would also suggest thanking the coordinator as well.

Ask good questions

  • Come with a list of questions prepared.
  • This is the time you can use to interview them!
  • Ask questions that are important to you that you know will help you choose between jobs when you get offers.
  • But don’t ask basic questions. Make sure to research the group or hospital so you know the basics about them. 
  • Ask questions that you can’t find the answers to online, on their website.

Keep your Guard up

  • You can get interviewers that are really relaxed and put you at ease hoping to get you to slip up and reveal something you wouldn’t normally.
  • So be relaxed but always maintain professionalism.

Keep your phone off

  • We are all addicted to your phones but remember to silence it during the interview.
  • The last thing you need is a horrible ringtone going off during your interview.

Be positive

  • No matter how horrible your residency program or medical school or any past experience don’t talk bad about them.
  • Always put things in a positive light.
  • It reflects badly on you not on the people you’re talking about.

Common Interview Questions

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are weaknesses? Strengths?
  • How would your patient’s describe you?
  • Describe when you dealt with a difficulty situation in the workplace
  • What would you do if someone you were working with wasn’t picking up as many patients as you?
  • What would you do if you saw another physician doing something you thought was harmful to the patient?
  • Why Emergency Medicine?
  • Why Community Hospital? Academic? Fellowship?
  • What would the person who likes you least say about you?
  • What’s your ideal job?
  • Why should we hire you? / What can you offer us?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you’re most proud of