Writing your Curriculum Vitae

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) will become a document that grows and develops with your own growth and development as a health professional. While the initial groundwork required to get things set up just right may initially take some time, it pays dividends in the long run when you have the ability to quickly add updates and send off a professional looking document at a moment’s notice, nabbing you that last minute job advert or impressing a new acquaintance in your professional network.

Almost every job you apply for will require you to supply your CV so it’s worth knowing how to put your best foot forward on paper. This document could be the difference between you getting your dream job or not – let’s show you how it’s done!


What is a CV?

Sometimes also referred to as a resume, a CV provides a summary of your education, career history, achievements and skills. It gives prospective employers an idea of what you have done and what you might be capable of.


What should I include?

There is no one correct way to write a CV. It will look slightly different based on the job you do and maybe even for different positions you apply for. For example the CV of an occupational therapist and a dietician might look very different, but the CV of an occupational therapist applying for a new graduate position versus a managerial position might also look very different.

Nevertheless, the essential elements you’ll probably include will be:

  • Personal details
  • Education/qualifications
  • Professional experience (in reverse chronological order): the type of work, details of the organisation, your duties and responsibilities, time period
  • Professional development (short courses/conferences)
  • Professional memberships
  • Personal achievements and awards
  • Publications, conferences, presentations, projects
  • Volunteer/community/leadership positions
  • Referees
  • These headings can be placed in any order that you think works best to draw attention to the qualities that make you the best fit for the position. Feel free to change it for different positions you apply for


Top Tips

  • Use an easy-to-read format: it doesn’t have to be a design masterpiece. The font, headings and structure should draw attention to your achievements, not distract from them
  • Vocabulary: use strong, punchy action words to add a bit of persuasion. Rather than common words like did, went, formed, started… think big with verbs like established, formalised, implemented, launched.
  • Keep it to 2-3 pages tops
  • Do some research: there are loads of websites out there that provide templates, give examples or even run services to help you put it all together for you. There’s no excuse for not getting some advice from someone with experience, it’s so freely available.


Common Mistakes

  • Spelling and grammar: this will stick out like a sore thumb, and is often cited by recruiters as an easy excuse to put your CV in the “no” pile as they sift through stacks of applications
  • Not tailored to the job: the recruiter will be looking for something, make it obvious by tweaking the words you use, placing it on the first page, putting it in bold. Do your best to make their job easy.
  • Too long or difficult to read: keep it concise and to the point.



While it’s absolutely worth all the effort it takes to get all of these minor details correct, don’t forget the best thing you can do to boost your CV – go out and do stuff! Sign up for courses, gain work experience across different fields, learn new skills in voluntary positions… take a real interest in what you do, get really good at it and your achievements will speak for themselves (no matter what font you write them in).


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