How to Write A Resume in 2020

How to Make a Good Resume in 2020. Top 3 Errors And How to Fix.

I've been reflecting back on the thousands of resumes and CVs I've reviewed this past year. I've been wanting to make a video and post about this topic for some time.

It came to me one morning. I need to give you the three key tips, the three key areas where I see so many people make mistakes, which get in the way of having an effective good, great, even winning CV or resume. So what would be better than to provide you those three best tips for your Resume in 2020? Those tips are 1. Make your name the hero of the document, 2. Don't use a photograph and finally, the most important one 3. Include a targeted personal profile or executive summary of your career at the top of your resume.

Let's dive deeper into the reasons why these are the top 3 tips.

6 to 8 seconds to Review a Resume.

So the thing about resumes and CVS is, if you know much about them, then you know that it only takes a recruiter about six, seven or eight seconds to review a resume for the first time. This 6 to 8 seconds is all the time that that recruiter needs to make some sort of decision as to whether they want to talk to you or get you in for an interview.

So it is critical therefore that you focus a lot of your effort on the front page or the first page of your resume. Your resume's sole job really is to get you that conversation with the recruiter or employer.

Tip 1. Make Your Name the Hero Of Your Resume.

Far too often do I see people putting non-essential words at the top of their resume, like “curriculum vitae” or “resume”. When we actually already know what this document is. So the first tip for maximizing your front page is to get rid of those words and any other erroneous text and just put your name in the biggest, boldest, largest font size letters you can at the top of the page.

Because your name is the “hero” of this document. You're trying to sell yourself to the employer and the one thing you want them to do is to remember your name.

Because your name is the “hero” of this document. You're trying to sell yourself to the employer and the one thing you want them to do is to remember your name.
Dr Anthony Llewellyn

Tip 2. Get Rid Of That Photo.

Which leads me to the second key point. Think carefully about whether you need a photo on your resume.

Each and every year candidates ask me “should I be including a photo on my resume this year?” My advice this year is the same as before. Don't include a photo, particularly if you are applying for a job in the professional realm.

Each and every year candidates ask me “should I be including a photo on my resume this year?” My advice this year is the same as before. Don't include a photo, particularly if you are applying for a job in the professional realm.
Dr Anthony Llewellyn

Photos are seen as ostentatious and over the top. And the other problem with including a photo on your resume that you don't know about is if they've never seen you before, the recruiter begins to make up all sorts of ideas about you in their mind based on your photo and the recruiter's unconscious biases, rather than the contents of your CV or resume. And they are spending three or four seconds looking at that photo when they should be spending those three or four seconds out of a total of six to eight seconds reviewing other parts of your resume.

Tip 3. Incorporate An Executive Summary In Your Resume.

My third key point and the thing I see missing so often or poorly executed on CVs or resumes is what some might call the “personal profile” or “career summary”. But what I now like to call the “executive summary”. The bit that sits at the top of your resume right under your name, that takes up about a third or half of the front page that tells your story about who you are, what your career is about, and what you can offer to the employer.

The problems I see is this executive summary is either missing or that candidates are putting bullet points with responsibilities and things that they've done in the past that are of no real interest to the employer.

So make sure you tailor that and talk about the sort of knowledge and skills and capabilities that you can bring to the job.

But also think about what can you offer to this employer.

  • What do they need?
  • Can you offer new leads or new business?
  • Can you offer to improve processes and reduce costs?
  • Or can you actually create new value for this employer?

Write all that down and put it at the top of your resume.

Hi, I'm Dr. Anthony Llewellyn, otherwise known as the Career Doctor. If you are new to this blog, I make posts and videos on YouTube about the job application process. I am a real medical doctor who knows far too much about the recruitment process. If you want to check out some of my other posts then feel free to have a search around or hop on over to the Career Doctor YouTube channel by clicking on the video attached to this post.

Related Questions

Question. Do You Have Any Extended Information About CVs Or Resumes?

I certainly do. Check out this post or the related posts below.

Question. Can You Tell Me More About the Executive Summary Or Career Goal Statement?

Again. We got that covered in this post.

Question. I'm Really Struggling With My CV Or Resume. Can You Help Me?

Answer. Whilst the main purpose of this post is to provide everyone with some free information about how they can empower themselves to do better in the recruitment process I do offer a range of options to get more detailed help with your CV or resume. Just look under Services in the Header or pop over to here.

How To Write A Medical CV

How To Write A Medical CV. The Ultimate Illustrated Guide.

One of the interesting aspects of medical training is that we tend to assume that doctors have the professional skills to manage their careers. However its been my experience that many struggle with the job application process because this has not been the focus of their training to date.

So if you are feeling a bit lost as to what to write in and how to write your CV. Here’s an overview.

Medical CV

How does the Panel Review your Medical CV [Video]

The Implications for Medical CV design, structure and content

We recently hosted an evening webinar on the Medical CV.  70 trainee doctor registrant learnt how the selection panel reviews your Medical CV.

Trainees are often surprised when they find out how little time is spent looking at their Medical CV at each stage of the process (in some cases a few seconds to minutes).  This is probably even more shocking when trainees often spend hours putting one together.

Generally speaking, there are 3 phases in which your Medical CV is considered post submission.

Stage 1 Initial Review of your Medical CV

This is often done by only one person (usually the Chair of the Panel). The process can literally be a few seconds per CV.  The main purpose of this stage is determining who should be interviewed and who should not.  This is sometimes referred to as shortlisting or culling.  Your main aim at this point of the process is for your CV to provide all the essential information required to get into the interview pile.  Standing out is only a secondary aim.  So make sure you have reviewed the job description and put all the essential stuff that may be required, such as medical degree, registration status, years of experience, trainee status somewhere on the front page, preferably in either the header or the career goal section.

Stage 2 Pre Interview Review of Medical CV

This is when the other panel members have the opportunity to browse your CV prior to the interview day.  Some will do this in more depth than others.  It's your first chance to stand out.  So again a good career goal statement and a well laid out CV is essential at this point.  Because they are just browsing again the front page should include all the main things you want them to know about you, as they are only likely to glance at the rest at best.

Stage 3 The Interview

Your CV (and application) will probably be sitting amidst a pile of others in the interview room so that panel members can refer to it.  So why not refer to it yourself in your interview responses.  This reminds the panel that its there and contains further information about you to support your candidacy.

For much more about how the panel reviews your Medical CV and the implications for structure, content and design see our video below, where we also talk about whether you need to do a cover letter or not.


medical CV

How to Write a Medical CV Video. Medical CV Template.

We recently recorded a “how to put together a medical trainee CV video” (Resume).

There's tremendous interest in the topic of how to put together a medical trainee CV.  Medical students are also interested in the topic.  For many, it may be the very first time you have have to assemble a CV or resume.

That's why we put the call out via email and our facebook community group (lots of good stuff in there to help you with your medical career in there by the way) for folks interested in a webinar on key points for putting together a good medical trainee CV that will satisfy the needs of employers.

So a few Mondays ago, we held a Webinar of around 40 trainees and medical students to discuss some of the key aspects of putting together your CV.

So here it is:

How to Put Together a Medical Trainee CV video

This is a long video but we encourage you to watch it through entirely. By the way On Youtube, you can adjust the speed settings to listen a bit quicker if that works for you.

A bit of a summary of what was covered in this post (all the headings here link to sections of the video if you want to fast forward):


Hopefully self-explanatory this gives you an overview of everything covered in this video on how to put together a Medical Trainee CV

Why everyone says CVs are only reviewed for 6 seconds and whether you should use a photo?

Search for more than a couple of minutes on the internet for information about CVs and you will find someone who tells you that the average first pass review for a CV is 6 seconds.  I suspect many of these folks don't even know where that reference comes from.  Well, here it is.  The study was an eye-tracking study and whilst its got its criticism and there's a bit of a lack of detail.  The study certainly meets face validity when you talk to people who are experienced with reviewing hundreds of CVs.  When you are reviewing applications as part of an annual medical recruitment process its not unusual to receive hundreds of CVs.  If you dig a bit further into the article, however, there's another interesting finding.

If you were looking for an additional reason why you should not include a photo the study provides you one.  I generally advise against photos on CVs for the following reasons.  1. Medical job applications tend to be conservative affairs.  2.  It can come across as a bit narcissistic.  3. It also removes a key opportunity to make a first impression.  If someone can see a picture of you, then they are already forming all sorts of biased opinions about you based on this photo.

But the Ladders study adds another reason not to do it.  It distracts the attention of the reviewer from other more important information.

2 Options for Structuring Your Medical Trainee CV

Basically, I recommend, the following format:

  • Personal Details (include a brief qualification summary)
  • Career Goal Statement
  • Work Achievements
  • Education Achievement
  • The Rest (in whatever order represents you best)
  • Referees

Why not Education before Work?  Because this is an employer interview and that's what is of most interest.

There are some circumstances where Education could or should come before Work.  This is generally when you have been educating more recently than working, for example still in Medical School or an International Medical Graduate.

Whether to use an Employer Recommended Template or Not?

If you look at these templates they are not overly attractive.  Filling one in will mean that yours looks like everyone else's'.  So its hard to put together a medical trainee CV that stands out in those circumstances.  All these templates are really trying to achieve is that you provide the reviewer with a minimum amount of information.  So you can refer to them and still adopt your own style. So far, everyone I have reviewed in Australia and New Zealand is published as a guide (meaning you don't have to use it).  Feel free to send me one that is not but so far I have looked at:

How Talk About ‘Non-Medical' Related Work?

In general, its good to talk about any substantive work you have done in a previous life outside of Medicine.  Where you list this will depend on other work history and education and how much of a strength you feel this is. You can also cross-reference some things in other headings like Skills or even the career goal statement.  For example, if you were previously an Executive Assistant then you have definitely done a job in the past that required high level organisational, time management, stakeholder management and communication skills.

The Importance of Career Goal Statements

I could go on about the importance of these and in fact, have done so in another post and video

Talking About Work Achievements

Try to give some evidence for what you have achieved in your past roles.  Avoid listing common job responsibilities this will bore a CV reviewer.  They already know what OR at least think they know what an Intern does on a day to day basis.

A Brief Discussion on Referees

In summary:

  • Don't fret about getting more than one College referee
  • Try to have a diverse mix (think about including at least one non-doctor and at least one male and female)
  • Make sure your first referee is a recent manager or supervisor

Exactly How Many Referees should I have?

3 is good.  But remember they will be contacted in the order you put them.  And the 3rd is only normally contacted as a back-up if one of the other two goes missing.

You can have more. But probably more than 5 or 6 is starting to look excessive.

Some Other Tips on Improving Your CV

Biggest take home message here is.  GET SOMEONE ELSE TO REVIEW YOUR CV FOR YOU.  Attention to detail in CVs is important.  You have probably spent a few hours putting it together and revising it.  You will probably now be overlooking a typo or formatting error.

Audience Q&A:

The Audience Q&A included a discussion about Cover Letters and Personal Statements.  For Personal Statements, I generally recommend a Career Goal Statement instead.  I will at some point try to write a post or do a video on Cover Letters.


A Quick Reminder about the YouTube Channel

I've decided to start a Youtube Channel.  I really would like to share with a wider audience some of the knowledge that I have gained over several years doing jobs in Medicine that I really love. But let's face it most other doctors really hate.  I'm talking about things like medical manager roles, executive leadership roles, recruitment roles, coaching roles, committee roles and clinician engagement roles.  So some of the stuff I know is fairly unique.  I also have a network of peers that could contribute useful information in the broad are of doctors careers.

So I've started out vlogging on a couple of topics.

One is about the idea that if senior doctors could become better bosses (people managers). And if trainees could understand that being a boss is quite difficult at times.  Then we might have a positive impact on the culture of medicine.

The other topic.  Quite relevant at this point in time.  Is the one we have been talking about.  The job application and interview preparation process.

My current goal is 100 subscribers by the end of July.  As of the time of writing this post I was sitting at 40.  Why 100?  Well, that's the magic number at which point Youtube lets you have your own custom channel name.

So if you feel inclined you could really help me out by doing any or all of the following (none of which will take up more than a small amount of your time):

Scroll to Top