V is for Vitae

How to Write a Residency Application CV (w/ Example from Dr. V)

Tips from a successful orthodontic residency applicant.

Dr. V here taking over the V Coterie blog! The process of applying for residency is stressful enough, so I wanted to share my best tips for constructing a winning CV for your application. (Please keep in mind my experience is based on applying for a particular dental specialty residency, more specifically — orthodontics, not medical. Medical residency programs may have similar requirements, but they are different in their own right.)

What is a CV?

A CV, short for Curriculum Vitae, is a written document that provides a comprehensive summary of your education, relevant experiences, skills, professional affiliations, and other qualifications. It's the lengthier version of a resume. Your CV is typically used when applying for academic positions, research opportunities, grants, fellowships, or jobs in certain professional fields.

Here are some key elements commonly included in a CV:

1) Personal Information

This section includes your name and contact information (phone number, email address, address).

2) Education

This section lists your educational background in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent degree or qualification. Include the institution's name, degree earned, field of study, graduation date, and any relevant academic achievements or honors. You'll also want to include your GPA and class ranking here, if applicable.

3) Honors and Awards (if applicable)

List any academic or professional honors, awards, or recognition you've received. This is your moment to shine, so take the space you need to highlight your accomplishments.

4) Experience

This section provides details about your experiences. Long before starting your CV, you'll want to make sure you take on experiences and training that would be relevant to the position you're applying for. This can include leadership positions (really helps if you'll want a chief role later on), specialty clinical experiences, volunteering, and instances when you conducted research.

Since this is for a residency role, make sure you choose the information that demonstrates your qualifications for the program. For example, when I was applying for orthodontic residency, I wouldn't need to list my prior job experience working at Starbucks or the mall candy store, since those pose little significance for the role. 😉 Also, consider the experiences that make you stand out from other applicants (e.g. Did you spearhead a unique charity campaign? Develop a new event for a student organization? etc.)

When writing your experiences, add brief descriptions detailing the role.  Use strong power verbs, like "directed," "pioneered," etc.

5) Research or Publications (if applicable)

For academic positions or research-oriented roles, this section includes information about your research projects, publications, presentations, and any conferences you've attended.

6) Professional Memberships or Associations (if applicable)

Include any memberships or affiliations with professional organizations that are relevant to your field.

7) Professional Development and Training (if applicable)

Include any workshops, seminars, or additional training that is relevant to your field.

8) References

It's common to provide the names and contact information of individuals who can vouch for your qualifications and work ethic. Before adding persons to this list, make sure you've requested their permission to use them as a reference. You don't want them to be cut off guard on the off-chance that the institution does call or email them.

How do I format my CV?

Institutions may be more likely to choose one that has a clean layout since it can show your attention to detail. Keep in mind, though, that certain residency application portals have entries which are digitized; meaning, you really don't have control over the design or formatting. When applicable, consider these tips when laying out your CV:

Stick to a professional font. A clean font, like Helvetica or Times New Roman, can make your CV easier to read and leave a positive impression on reviewers. This isn't the time to be a risk-taker with Comic Sans or Curlz MT font. Also, make sure your font is large enough for legibility. A font size between 10 and 12 points is ideal.

Be thorough yet succinct. Review the institution's website and description of the role to determine the sections to include on your CV. Since CVs can have several pages, it's important to add the most important sections to keep the interviewing panel's attention. Keep your CV contained to 2-3 pages, if possible.

Organize your CV sections by importance. Since you'll likely use your CV for academic- or research-based positions, you'll probably want to start with your academic experience. The order of the subsequent sections is subjective, but use your best judgement.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. I've been able to sit on an interview panel during my time in orthodontic residency, and I was bewildered at the number of typos I'd find in our applicants' CVs. Make sure you have your trusted friends and classmates review your CV for any misspellings or typos.

You can download the very CV I submitted to successfully obtain a position for orthodontic residency (modified slightly for confidentiality).

A CV is typically more academically-oriented and comprehensive compared to a resume, which is shorter and tailored for specific job applications. Always ensure that your CV is well-organized, easy to read, and contains accurate information. Good luck!

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