Resume Tips for Physicians Considering a Career Change

August 11, 2010
Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC

Ditch the document laden with degrees, credentials, lengthy education sections and reams of publications and presentations. This stuff no longer matters! Instead, career changers need to go digital with their resumes. I'll show you how.

As a physician coach to doctor clients who want to make the transition from clinical practice to a new career, I latched onto an article in Tuesday's L.A. Times business section.

Titled "Revive your Resume," by Emily Hughey Quinn, it hints at the death of the traditional paper resume. In its place is the digital resume you create on sites such as LinkedIn.com and VisualCV.com.

Take special note: If you're a physician seeking a nonclinical, nonacademic career as a physician executive, a medical director or even in another field, your curriculum vitae is history! Gone is the document laden with degrees, credentials, lengthy education sections and reams of publications and presentations. This stuff no longer matters!

Back to the resume. The advantages of the digital resume are:

• A consistent format -- the reader knows what he or she is looking for, and where to find it.

• Access to people on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, who may be great contacts, your next boss, or excellent resources.

• Built-in networking and job-searching opportunities within the same site.

• Multi-sensory appeal, if you're willing engage your creativity and add video, images and even audio. Check out the Fortune 500-type guy and the Sassy Creative one) -- both generate instant impressions.

• Accompanying testimonials and recommendations, visible to all prospective hiring folks.

One caveat: Maintain a highly professional public persona online. Clean up your act -- check your Facebook privacy settings to ensure that your prospective employer can't see those drunken 40th birthday party pictures, or shut down your Twitter account if there's anything you wouldn't the interviewing team across the table to be asking about.

And back to the moribund traditional resume:

• The job of your cover letter is to get your resume read.

• The job of your resume is to get you an interview.

• The job of your interview(s) is to get you the job!

Your resume is all about your job-related achievements. What you did, and what results you (or the company/department) got. This is very intimidating for many physicians, who look blank when asked what they have accomplished. "All I ever did was practice medicine," they tell me. But that is another story ... for another day.

So here are some traditional resume (and digital resume) tips:

• Drop the "Objective" starter paragraph. Replace it with a concise “Summary” of your strengths and experience related to the job you are pursuing.

• Show how your experience and skills will address the future needs of the employing organization or business.

• Be truthful!!

• Keep "personal and hobbies" information brief and relevant to the position you want. If your hobbies highlight functional skills that could add value to the position, go for it. Otherwise, skip them.

• Reverse chronological ordering is best, with Company Name, Job Title, Dates of Employment, a sentence about the company and/or your role, and bulleted points highlighting your achievements and results.

• Two pages are plenty, no more than the last 20 years. (Some say just 10!)

• Picture the poor person who might be glancing over their 41st resume by the time they get to yours. Be that sigh of relief!

Creating a resume takes research and imagination on your part -- do this well and you are already ahead of 90 percent of rival job candidates!