All of us have a professional story to share. We have come from various backgrounds that make us different and allow us to link unique contributions from our professional journey. Some of us dedicate our careers to academics, many serve in private practice, and others have a combination of career experiences. Unfortunately, many of our humble colleagues have incomplete stories in their curriculum vitae (CV), their résumés and their personal statements.
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Explore This IssueJuly 2022
Academic colleagues tend to be better at telling their stories because academic promotions rely on a current CV; they document their contributions well regarding teaching, presentations, research, committee work and even volunteer activities. Many clinical colleagues contribute significantly to their hospitals, clinical settings and the community, but do not document this well.
Often, ACR/ARP members and mentors want to nominate colleagues for academic promotion, award recognition, committee membership or even job opportunities, but this can be problematic for the nominator if a CV or résumé is incomplete. Professional contributions and community work are relevant to our stories, and this brief article highlights how you can optimize your CV, résumé or your personal statement to better tell your story.
Optimize Your CV
Many places of employment have a suggested standard format for CVs/résumés. The format may or may not tell your story, and you may need different versions. Whether you are applying for a job, fellowship, research position, promotion, award, committee membership or other position, start by reading the description and/or criteria. These may be general or very specific. Your CV/résumé should have sections or categories that reflect the criteria. If the instructions say “highlight contributions,” then do that. It’s also a good idea to send the guidelines/criteria to the people who are writing letters of recommendation or nominating you.
Even with vague guidelines or criteria, have sections or categories on your CV/résumé that correspond with those in the guidelines. The easier it is to find information on your CV/résumé, the happier both your nomination letter writers and reviewers will be.
Highlight Leadership Roles
It is important to highlight and reflect significant leadership roles in your CV, résumé or personal statements when being considered for a new position, committee or an award nomination. Professional titles, such as department chair or dean, convey many predictable leadership roles and experience. However, other positions don’t imply leadership experience or potential. For example, a staff member may have led an initiative for faculty development in the department or even at the hospital level that would be unappreciated unless uniquely highlighted and labeled as chair, lead, etc.
Other roles could include chairing a curriculum development initiative, managing finances for a clinic, taking on quality assurance roles, mentoring students/trainees at any level or leading patient education initiatives in the community. Even leadership volunteer roles in primary and secondary education as a parent, in a sports league or in your church community reflect expertise in communication, team building and executive skills.
Mentoring is another aspect of leadership to emphasize. For a mentoring award, the CV/résumé should showcase what type or level of people were mentored (e.g., undergraduate or graduate students, residents, fellows, interprofessional students, faculty, staff). Describe the outcomes from the mentorship, such as presentations, publications, scholarship, awards and acceptance for position (e.g., post-doctoral academic, practice).
Volunteering is often a criterion for promotion, and service awards should be included in your CV, résumé and personal statements. Volunteer roles can be varied, such as serving on committees at work, for professional or patient organizations, or in the community. Work-related and professional service are usually included.
All types of volunteering are important. Again, when deciding which ones to put on your CV/résumé, include them all. Refer back to the criteria for that promotion, award or job. Look at your CV/résumé, and think about who the audience is. Volunteer roles in places of worship, philanthropic organizations and your children’s schools/activities may or may not be on your professional CV/résumé. If you are being nominated for a service award, these would be very important to include, in addition to professional service.
Pull out your CV/résumé now. As you begin to peruse it, consider the following: Is it easy to read? Are sections clearly delineated? Are subsections needed—to separate presentations at workplace, local, state, national and international levels, for example? Does your CV/résumé highlight your accomplishments?
No matter how humble you feel, make sure you put your best self on paper.
Janet L. Poole, PhD, OTR/L, is a professor and division chief, Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque.
Daniel F. Battafarano, DO, MACP, MACR, serves in the Rheumatology Clinic, CommuniCare Health Centers, San Antonio, Texas, and is a professor of medicine at Uniformed Services University and adjoint professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.