Most people have no need for a CV.
As a pharmacist, however, odds are good that you’ll eventually need one; especially if you pursue residency or any clinical or research position. Applicants for international, academic, educational, medical or scientific research positions, as well as for fellowships or grants, typically need CVs, too.
Short for Curriculum Vitæ, a CV literally translates to your course of life. It’s everything you’ve done over the course of your academic career and your work career.
It’s a comprehensive, chronological listing of an applicant’s entire career, including academic background, degrees, research experience, publications, presentations, awards, and other achievements.
It’s much longer than a resume, which rarely exceeds two pages (because most people spend only a few seconds reviewing them).
Do I need a resume or a CV?
Pharmacists truthfully need both a CV and a resume.
The resume will be updated frequently and tailored each time a pharmacist applies for a new position. It will specifically address your strengths and why you’re specifically qualified for the position you’re seeking.
Your resume will use power words to grab the reader’s attention and to highlight your achievements.
Your CV, on the other hand, is a comprehensive list of your career accomplishments, and it will usually be updated when necessary to reflect new information.
While your resume will involve primarily relevant highlights from your career, your CV will be a much longer document, especially as you advance through your career. In many cases, the CV will span 10-12 pages.
Some experts suggest that your CV can be strategically changed for each new job -- by re-ordering the information, for example -- but typically your cover letter will offer your best chance at speaking directly to the position you’re applying for.
It’s important, however, to build your CV as you move through your career, as you’re likely to forget important details about your early accomplishments.
Each position you pursue will require a specific document, and some positions may require both a resume and a CV. Ensure that you provide exactly what a potential employer requests because failure to comply will reflect poorly on you as an applicant.
It’s always worthwhile to research any company you’re applying to before submitting your application. It’s also perfectly OK to ask if you aren’t sure which to submit.
What if I don’t have a CV?
If you don’t have a CV, use your resume to begin building one. If your resume needs work, here's our guide on writing a standout pharmacist resume.
Expand on past jobs and positions you’ve held, and include things like rotations where you accomplished something specific, articles or research papers you published, and peer articles you reviewed.
In addition to the usual sections of a resume, a CV will include teaching experience, grants, fellowships, licenses, awards, professional associations, and other information relevant to your career.
Most importantly, you shouldn’t wait until the day you need a CV to begin crafting one. It should be a growing, ongoing document that you update as needed. Consider revisiting yours monthly, or each time you receive an evaluation at work.
Understand, too, that if you use the Internet to seek information about CVs, you must consider where the information comes from. Internationally, resumes are almost non-existent, and employers instead use the term CV in its place. If you find a site that mentions CVs, determine which kind of CV you’re reading about.
Avoid using templates, because odds are good that many other applicants are using the same one. Don’t hesitate to use them as guidelines, but avoid the urge to “plug-and-play” in a way that makes your CV look like everyone else’s.
Your goal is always to distinguish yourself, and your accomplishments, with each of these documents.
What if I’m not planning to change jobs?
If you’re happy in your current job with no thoughts of transitioning, congratulations.
You should still prepare for job transition anyway.
Our industry is marked by acquisitions, mergers, closings and other tumultuous changes. You cannot possibly predict exactly what will happen in the future. I can’t either.
Arm yourself for change by crafting a CV that recaps your entire career. If you never apply for a job that requires a CV, it will still serve you well as a sort of “master resume” from which you can pick and choose accomplishments as you write tailored resumes in the future.
When you find yourself preparing for transition, voluntarily or otherwise, enlist the help of coaches who have been on both sides of the hiring process by enrolling in our Cover Letter Mastery course. We’ll help you make the most of the 30 seconds you’ll likely get to convince the hiring professionals that you’re the best person for the job.
You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating the skills and accomplishments that make you the pharmacist you are today. Be sure your application documents accurately reflect the hard work you’ve done over the course of your career.
We’d be happy to help.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.