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Q&A: How should I modify my curriculum vitae?

If you’re like most residents, you probably spent countless hours as a student meticulously reviewing your curriculum vitae (CV) during your residency application process: perfecting your spelling, constructing descriptors with great action verbs, and ensuring that all of your many accomplishments made their way onto your CV. And if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that all of your hard work paid off and helped you secure a residency position. Just as your job responsibilities changed in the transition from student to resident, it’s now time to make changes to your CV as well. So now, as you look toward more training or finding a job, what should you change about your CV, and how should it be different from the CV you perfected during your residency application process? We offer three suggestions to consider as you prepare your CV for a future position or training program.

Concentrate, don’t dilute, the content of your CV.

During residency training, you’re going to have the opportunity to perform a variety of great “CV-builder” and high-impact activities, including Grand Rounds presentations, poster presentations, publications, and committee work, which, for the most part, will overshadow many of your accomplishments as a student. And just as your residency program focused on your student activities, so will employers focus on your residency activities as predictors of success within their organization. As such, you’d like your residency activities to jump out on your CV when future employers scan it. Hence, you should use this time to remove some of the student listings on your CV that are far less significant than your more recent accomplishments. The table below lists several common items on student CVs that are removed as you make this transition. As a rule, now is also the time to start ridding your CV of the many lines of descriptors you likely put on your student CV. For example, consider removing the three lines you previously had under your job description as a pharmacy intern, and list only the position. Because you’re trying to “wow” future employers, don’t let the descriptor section dilute the impressiveness of the items on your resident CV. Your CV may shrink in length after your revisions, but the content will now be concentrated, allowing your significant accomplishments to truly stand out.

Table. Common Removals and Additions During the Transition from Student to Resident CV

CV Section

Examples of Items to Consider Removing

More Significant Items You May Be Adding

Licensure and Certification

HIPAA certification, technician certification

RPh, BCPS, ACLS, teaching certificate


Student rotations

PGY1 and PGY2 rotations

Presentations and Publications

Journal club presentations, patient case presentations, disease state presentations made to preceptors

Peer-reviewed publications, poster presentations, Grand Rounds presentations, presentations to medical/nursing staff

Honors and Awards

Less significant student honors and awards (e.g., Dean’s List, Honor Student), high school entries

Residency awards, travel awards, grants

Professional Affiliations and Activities

Meetings attended; less significant leadership activities should be removed to highlight significant leadership activities (e.g., remove “member of X Committee,” leaving “President of X Organization”)

Committee involvement and leadership positions, both locally and within professional organizations

Let the order of the sections in your CV reflect your priorities.

Depending on the type of position you’re applying for, you may wish to consider rearranging the order of various sections in your CV. For example, if you’re applying for a fellowship after residency, you may want to move your publications and research experience to a more prominent position in your CV, whereas if you’re applying for a faculty position, your teaching experiences may be more important to highlight than if you were applying for a clinical specialist position.

Get organized … again.

If you’re like many students and residents, you’ve probably become involved in a variety of activities locally, regionally, and nationally. While you’re in the process of renovating your CV, consider opportunities that may arise to maximize its organization. You may be able to divide presentations and committee or other organizational work into national, regional, and local sections. Moreover, rather than listing the various leadership roles you’ve had under headings such as “leadership” or “professional experience,” you may be able to improve on your CV by organizing these roles according to the name of the professional organization, placing your leadership positions and involvement in those organizations beneath, in reverse chronological order. Again, this may reduce the length of your CV in page numbers, but it will culminate in the creation of highly organized sections containing only what you consider high-impact activities.

One thing that doesn’t change about your CV as you transition from student to resident is the continued need for review by your peers and mentors. Giving your CV to five different people may result in five different sets of suggestions, but take the feedback and combine it with your own opinions and goals, making changes as necessary. In fact, ACCP has an Online Curriculum Vitae Service in which someone from outside your local area reviews your CV and offers feedback. This is a great opportunity for someone unfamiliar with your institution to review your CV and evaluate how you’ve described and documented the things you’ve done there.

It may take a few runs of trial and error as you sit down to update your student CV to your resident CV, but you will eventually construct a template that you can use to build on for the rest of your career. In the end, your goal should be to hand future employers a CV that gives a clear, organized picture of your pharmacy career and that, with your revisions, focuses on the achievements made during your residency training, ultimately showcasing why you would make an outstanding candidate for their organization.

For more information, check out the following article:

Flannery AH, Winstead PS, Smith KM. Transforming the curriculum vitae as a new practitioner. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2014 Dec 15;71(24):2115-7.

Alexander H. Flannery, Pharm.D., BCCCP, BCPS
Assistant Professor
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Lexington, KY

Special thanks to the late P. Shane Winstead for her contributions to the original article published in the October 2013 issue of Experts in Training.

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