Your Unwritten CV

March 24, 2017

Your CV is more than just what you can read.

Every now and then, I find myself in circumstances requiring me to send someone an updated copy of my CV. Before doing so, I take the opportunity to look over the thing, as some updating is invariably due. So reviewing, I never fail to wonder at how poorly the document represents me. Yes, the requisite information is there-where and when I was schooled and trained, how I’ve worked subsequently, the handful of times I somehow managed to be involved in publishing something, etc. It doesn’t, however, give its prospective readers much of a reason to hire, partner with, or otherwise give a damn about me as opposed to the gazillion other radiologists whose CVs more or less look the same. All of what I would consider my greatest strengths are nowhere to be found in it. A CV, for instance, does not have much to say directly about one’s work ethic. Nor his attention to detail. Creativity, patience, adaptability, capacity to learn new things. Interpersonal skills (or lack thereof). State of health (mental, as well as physical). Interests and abilities outside of the workplace. There are, of course, mechanisms by which such other assets can be communicated-letters of recommendation, for instance, or references who can be called upon from previous places of work and study. Even an interview or less-formal interactions can give others a glimpse at the real person behind the CV. Making sure these things get conveyed isn’t the only tricky bit. Having these good traits (or at least avoiding having bad ones) is an even less-tangible affair. The items on the CV are pretty well etched in stone-once you earned your degree from XYZ Medschool, it’s a done deal. Although a snarky comment about CME and MOC does tempt my typing fingers. Things like being a good listener or a trustworthy colleague are more transient; you’re only liable to have your references say such things about you if you’ve persistently lived up to them, and it might be difficult to put the best of yourself on full display during a brief interview or meeting.  Further, if it’s been 20 years since both your residency days and your last conscious effort at maintaining good posture, your CV might loyally attest to the validity of your training…but will do nothing to ameliorate the visual impact of your hunching spine and rounded shoulders.On the flipside, those 20 years (or however long it’s been for you) provide endless opportunities for growth and development, and it’s never too late to start polishing the unwritten portion of your resume.