Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
A fairly recent study (see footer) showed that recruiters look at a CV for a maximum of 6 seconds before they decide whether or not that person is a potential candidate for their job vacancy. While the study was not specifically targeted at recruiters in the healthcare sector it does pose an interesting problem for candidates, which is how to present your CV in the best way possible to survive the initial sift.
We’ve seen hundreds of healthcare CVs during the time we’ve been running Healthjobs.co.uk, and it’s clear that certain elements of the layout have a greater impact on the reader making it easier for them to understand your experience and qualifications. In this article we’re going to look at how best to update the layout of your CV to catch a recruiter’s attention.
Put your best foot forward to start
A CV should always begin with your name, address, contact details and professional registration number if appropriate. It’s perfectly obvious what the document is and the title ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is not required, especially as you want the recruiter to remember your name above anything else. A professional registration number or membership of a recognised organisation can instantly give the recruiter an understanding of your experience and field of expertise, so that can be shown near the top of your CV as well.
The order of your CV after this opening section will depend on your level of experience and the job you’re applying for. If you are an experienced healthcare professional with several years experience in the field you’re applying to work in, the next section on your CV should be your current job title, employer, dates of employment and list of responsibilities. If you’re only just starting out in healthcare and haven’t worked in this sector before then make the next section on your CV focus on the skills you have rather than your employment history. The key is to focus on relevance and ask yourself, what is the recruiter looking for in my CV?
For the experienced healthcare professional
Your work experience and current job are going to be particularly important to a recruiter’s initial assessment of your suitability for a particular vacancy. That’s why you should always present your employment history in reverse chronological order, placing the greatest emphasis on either your most recent or current job role. Go into detail about the responsibilities you have and whether you have expanded the role in any way by taking on more tasks.
Move on to cover your employment history in a similar way but giving less emphasis to roles further back in your past. It’s still essential that you mention them, but it’s not vital that you allocate as much space on your CV to jobs that you did when you first graduated or qualified in your healthcare specialism.
For the new healthcare worker
If you’ve never worked in healthcare before because you’re either just leaving school or are changing your career to work in this sector, you need to adjust the way you present your CV.
Your employment history is not going to be as important to a recruiter when reading your CV as your skills profile. Entry level healthcare jobs such as healthcare assistant are available to those without specific healthcare qualifications, and it’s the skills you’ve achieved through education or work experience that will make you successful.
Beneath your name and contact details, create a skills profile section as the first part of your CV. Use bullet points or well-spaced paragraphs to list the skills you have backed up with real life situations or evidence of achieving those skills.
Then go on to either detail your qualifications or employment history, again in reverse chronological order.
Be the solution for the recruiter’s vacancy
A recruiter is reading your CV to see if you are a good fit against the requirements of the job description, and by laying out your CV in a clear and logical order you can direct the recruiter to see all the most relevant information as they are scanning over your CV.
Don’t leave gaps in your employment history, it only makes the recruiter try to piece together your past experience. Make sure you account for any dates you were taking a career break or were unemployed.
Whenever you apply for a job in healthcare you have to tailor your CV to the specific job vacancy you’re going for. Don’t simply send off the same CV each time because you may not be as successful as you could be if you updated your CV for each application.
1 - Study published by The Ladders, March 21 2012