Career-seekers: Here’s how to write a CV that stands out

As director of provider recruitment, Rachel Reliford has seen a lot of CVs – some of them better than others.

These documents are unique to each person, so no two will ever be exactly the same, but there are some ways to make sure your CV is showing you in the best light.

Here are her tips based on her experience as a recruiter and industry best practices.

Who needs a CV?

While a Curriculum Vitae, or CV, is more commonly used in other parts of the world, in the United States it’s more concise counterpart – the resume – is preferred.

In the U.S., a CV is almost exclusively reserved for academics and medicine.

The difference, Rachel explains, is in the length, purpose and layout.

“A resume is more of a concise document,” Rachel said. “A resume is more tailored to the position you’re applying for. It doesn’t have to be chronologically ordered or cover every position in your career like a CV.”

For physicians, a CV is preferred over a resume so recruiters like Rachel can see more detail up front about a person’s training.

Best practices

Rachel Reliford photo.

Rachel Reliford, Director, Provider Recruitment at OSF HealthCare

1. Include a full chronology of work experience.

Start with undergraduate education and include all of your academic and work experience.

“A CV begins the day you start academic training – usually undergrad, but sometimes medical school. And it’s always compounding. You never drop things off after a certain amount of time,” Rachel said.

A CV with lengthy gaps in employment would raise red flags for recruiters, so if you’ve taken any time off to raise a family, take a sabbatical or deal with any other issues, offer an explanation so the recruiter can see the full picture.

2. Make sure your layout is consistent and easily understandable.

List your contact information first, followed by education, professional experience, state licenses, board certifications and professional associations.

Save research and academic experience for the end.

3. List current – and appropriate – contact information

If you provide an email address, make sure it’s an account that you check regularly. Likewise, any phone number should be a cell phone or direct line, not one that will be answered by a member of the office staff at your current position.

“If we have to leave a message, we’ll have to explain why we’re contacting you,” Rachel said.

4. Include some personal information

A short personal section or biography is a great way to give a more complete picture of who you are as a person and a professional, but it doesn’t have to be extensive.

“We always like to see things like their hobbies, interests, things about them or their family,” Rachel said.

But don’t overshare or include a photo, which could come off as unprofessional. Personal information shouldn’t overshadow your professional experience. Save that for your cover letter.

5. Speaking of a cover letter…

Write a cover letter that shows why you’re interested in a particular organization or position.

“It’s always helpful to have a cover letter because it helps us understand them as an individual and what they’re looking for, but it’s not required,” Rachel said.

For providers looking for a position within OSF HealthCare, use your cover letter to explain what caught your eye about OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, why you’re looking forward to working on a simulation project at Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center or why you want to practice medicine in a small town.

“It helps me understand what makes you feel like this is a good opportunity for you,” Rachel said.

See current opportunities at

About Author: Laura Nightengale

Laura Nightengale is a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. 

When she’s not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.

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