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Do I Need a CV or Resume for a Non-Clinical Job or Side Hustle?

Many physicians don’t have a ton of experience with resumes or CVs, as job searches aren’t frequent compared to the general population. Perhaps one was prepped when applying to medical school, then residency, then fellowship, and then looking for a clinical job. In fact, depending on how they found their first job, they may not have even done one for the attending physician job search. Additionally, these documents may look quite different than the ones necessary for a transition to non-clinical work, as the structure and formatting typically used for nonclinical jobs and the skills emphasized for nonclinical careers can be quite different. 

Many physicians are also not aware of the difference between a CV and a resume, and may send in a CV when asked to send their resume in with the application for the non-clinical job or side hustle of interest. While they are both utilized during the job search process, they serve two different roles. Read more below about the differences and which one you need for your non-clinical job or side hustle search.

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CV or Resume: What’s the Difference?

Doctors are much more familiar with CVs, which are the standard for clinical medical work.

CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which translates from Latin into “course of one’s life”. In essence, your CV covers your entire career life which outlines your entire academic and professional background. It will likely have all of your accomplishments, publications, volunteer experiences, and more, and can be many pages long. We’ve seen physicians with CVs that are over 10 pages long!

You can think of your resume as a condensed form of your CV. With a resume, you highlight your experience, qualifications, and accomplishments as they relate to the job you hope to get.

CV or resume - what's the difference?

A CV typically focuses on your academic achievements, research and publications. Given the amount of schooling and training we go through before graduating to our first attending job, the focus on a CV for physicians in the job search for a traditional clinical job makes sense. Practices will want to know how to market your experience and will want to know about your training, all of your publications, and other things that make you unique in the medical space. In general, all of the CVs they receive for consideration will look very similar, since both the job and the experience necessary for it are pretty similar. 

In the non-clinical world, there are a wide variety of different types of positions, with job descriptions for the same position title varying from employer to employer, so each employer is looking for something different. Additionally, it’s not always just physicians applying for the positions, so everyone’s educational backgrounds and experiences may be quite different, with some aspects of people’s careers not being relevant to the job in question. Resumes focus on work experience over education, focusing on qualifications and skills.

Think of a CV as a ten-episode mini series and a resume as a two-hour movie on the same topic: your career.

CVs generally follow a standardized format of information presented in sections such as education, research and publications, practice experience, professional society memberships, and both personal and professional references. Resumes, however, tend to be more flexible when it comes to formatting, though there are some specific tips to help you format your resume for maximum effectiveness.

The chronological order of the CV and resume are also different. CVs are generally organized oldest to most recent, while resumes generally highlight most recent to oldest.

CV or Resume for Non-Clinical Jobs & Gigs?

While you can apply for a non-clinical job or side gig with a CV, a resume is more standard for non-clinical positions. If you are asked for a resume and send your CV instead, you risk the chance of being overlooked, especially if the headhunter sourcing the applicants is flooded with applications and can’t easily skim your CV for relevant experience.

Most employers only spend six seconds to a minute reviewing your application before deciding if they want to know more or move on to the next applicant. Your application may never even make it to a person for a six second scan. Many companies now employ technology to help them filter out which applications even show up for review based on pre-screening questions and relevant keyword searches throughout your application. When you send a general, ten-paged CV for review, they are likely to filter it out or skip it in favor of a one-page resume formatted to easily find the key, relevant information.

While the resume is the standard for non-clinical careers and side gigs, some non-clinical positions may actually prefer both, especially for research-focused positions, so it’s good to have both updated and polished before applying for positions.

Importance of Your Resume for Non-Clinical Jobs and Side Hustles

Your resume’s primary goal is to land you an interview. Its job is to highlight what makes you the ideal candidate for the role open. You want your resume to point a large arrow-shaped sign at you that screams “hire this person!” It should make the employer want to reach out to learn more about the specifics.

You want your resume to accomplish this task as quickly as possible. While guidance can vary and depends on the preference of the reviewer, in general your resume should be 1-2 pages long at most. And this does not mean shrink the text to size 7 font and get rid of the margins to make it fit. If your font is below a standard size (typically 10pt to 12pt), it may also get passed over as it may still seem overwhelming.

If you are interested in exploring and interviewing for different non-clinical positions as we recommend in our article of what to consider before leaving your clinical job, each job you apply for may have different requirements and preferred qualifications. Your resume’s job is to match your work experience and accomplishments to the job description for each specific position as closely as possible. If you’re interested in pharmaceutical industry roles for physicians, for example, you may be considering both medical science liaison and drug safety physician careers. While your experience as a physician will be your first step past the job search gatekeepers, the requirements will be significantly different for the two roles. Thus, you’ll need two different versions of your resume, one for each role you’re interested in.

Successful Resume 101 for Physicians

The dos and don'ts of writing your resume

Resumes have a lot of flexibility when it comes to presentation and what information to include to showcase your fit for the position. There are, however, a few guiding principles we recommend to help you shine through the application slog.

Tip 1: Customize your resume for each position

We cover this in the previous section, but it’s worth highlighting here. When you apply for non-clinical positions, tailor your resume for the specific position you’re applying to. Yes, this can be a bit time consuming, but it’s worth the investment on the front end to save you from having to keep applying for countless jobs because you get screened out and never hear back. If you’re applying for a job within insurance medicine, your prospective employer isn’t going to care about the medical writing you’ve done for health blogs–or vice versa.

Customize not just what associations and honors, if any, you decide to include, but what roles and accomplishments you achieved at each of your featured work experiences.

If you can’t think of any relevant information, include the basics of the position (employer, title, years worked) and move on. It’s generally recommended to at least included the position even without relevant experience, as employers see gaps in employment as red flags. Excluding them completely may get your resume screened out before you have the opportunity to explain during an interview what you did during that time.

Once you’ve narrowed down and focused what you want to include, be as specific as possible. The more you can provide examples that may correlate to their position, the better your chances as getting a request for an interview. For instance, don’t just say you have experience running a successful private medical practice. Mention for X years, you oversaw a practice of Y other physicians and practitioners with an average rate of Z% revenue increase under your supervision.

Tip 2: Focus on your summary statement

While not required, a summary statement at the top of your resume, directly under your name and contact information, is a great way to summarize your 1-2 page resume into one paragraph that the employer can scan in their 10 second first pass.

Your summary statement in two or three sentences provide a professional induction to you that highlights your most valuable skills and experiences related to the position. This quick TL;DR can help employers learn whether you have the qualifications and skills they desire so they know they should read on.

Carefully study the job description for your desired position and incorporate keywords from their requirements and responsibilities to help clue them in that your resume is worth 60 seconds of their time so you can land 30 minutes later in an interview.

Tip 3: Prioritize the rest of your resume by relevance to the specific job.

Americans read left to right, top to bottom, so organize your resume in this order.

  • Put your contact information at the top, so they know how to reach out to for an interview.

  • Include your summary statement just below your contact header

  • List work experience from the most recent to oldest below your summary statement, relying relevant responsibilities and accomplishments linked clearly to that position

  • Include education below your work history (remember, no large unexplained gaps in employment)

  • If you have space remaining, include other relevant highlights such as volunteer work, professional association memberships and leadership roles, and awards or honors.

When listing the responsibilities and accomplishments for each position you’ve held, put the most important at the top for that job. If you’re listing several related responsibilities or accomplishments, start the list with the most applicable to your desire position and end with the least relevant.

Tip 4: Avoid oversharing.

No one likes the stranger that walks up to them at a dinner party and starts sharing their entire life story. In these situations, you’re much more likely to say you’re on call and fake a phone emergency than lean in and ask for more information.

Treat your resume the same with the employer. Share the relevant information and trust your highlighted accomplishments and works to speak for themselves. You’ll have one–or three–interviews to provide the information they’re interested in learning more about. You don’t need to share it all during the introduction.

This is where the 1-2 page general guideline comes from. If you have so much relevant experience (publications, research, specific accomplishments within a role, etc.) that you can’t fit it on 2 pages, you can showcase the most important and relatable, then include a sentence mentioning you’ve done so. This lets the employer know to ask about your additional experience during your preliminary interview.

Tip 5: Organize and proofread

We cannot stress enough how quickly your resume has to make an impression in the non-clinical world. If you want your resume to stand out and draw the employers attention for review, make sure it’s neat and organized. These are skills that matter a lot in the non-clinical world, so you want potential employers to see these skills in action from the get go. 

Also make sure you thoroughly proofread your resume. This is especially important for medical writing opportunities. If you’re trying to get a position as a writer and have spelling or grammatical errors, you’ve already failed your interview before you had the chance to speak.

Even non-writers should pay close attention. There will likely be several others to hundreds of candidates applying for the same position. You don’t want to give the employer any excuse to pass on requesting an interview. Print your resume, read it aloud, or have a friend or family member review it for you.

When organizing your resume layout, white space is your friend. Headings and indents are white space’s trusty sidekicks. Include section headings and make sure the flow of information beneath them are easy to distinguish.

For example:


[Include your summary statement]


[Employer name], [position held], [dates of employment]

  • Most relevant experience performed

  • Second most relevant experience

  • Third most relevant



Ace Your Non-Clinical Job or Side Hustle Search

Once you’ve polished your resume, you’re ready to start your non-clinical job or side hustle search. If you send out resumes to a few similar positions and don’t hear back from them, give your resume another look. Ask a friend to compare your resume to the job description for their thoughts.

If you’ve done several interviews but none of the positions scream “second career” or “perfect side gig” to you, explore other options:

As you explore different career and side gig options, look for related databases we run to alert our physician members of available opportunities. Also check in with our physician online communities weekly for our ICYMI recap announcements, where we share current and upcoming opportunities.

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