From Textbook to Paycheck!

By: Dr Ninada KC, Medical Officer, Namma Clinic, DHFW, Karnataka

Great grades? Check.

Entrance exam? Check.

Tackling case scenarios? Check.

A catchy CV? Ummm…

Cracking interviews? Oops!

We medical students are taught and prepared for how to treat patients, how to handle emergencies, how to put up a smile in the face of adversity. What medical school is conveniently leaving out is how to get into an office, walk in and get that job we have been looking forward to. With corporate hospitals sprouting up in every street and stand alone clinics becoming pretty much outdated, it is imperative that medical students know how to write a CV, how to present and carry themselves at an interview and how to land jobs in the real world. For long, stress interviews and CV writing have been part of the engineering curriculum, but until it becomes part of the MBBS module, we students will have to fend for ourselves.

First off, to write a CV or build a portfolio in itself is a tricky business. Hooting your own horns without coming off pompous is a skill that needs finesse! You will find several templates online, but make sure you choose one professional enough to carry the “Dr” in it. Everything about your CV needs to convey a certain level of maturity and responsibility, it is through this CV that you’re telling the HR that (s)he can let you handle the lives of patients at their hospital! Be it with the font, colour, sizing, indentation or spacing, maintain uniformity. For no matter how loudly we profess “do not judge a book by its cover”,  at the end of the day, the recruiter has a pile of applications sacked at the table and (s)he’s got to make a simple screening. Because pictures speak a thousand words, choose a professionally flattering picture to go on your CV that blends with the CV template.

Next up, writing the CV itself[1]. To write colourful things, you would need to have done colourful things! While I wouldn’t say no to slight exaggeration, remain honest for the most part. What carries value on your CV? Usually recruiters are just looking for things you have done in your med school. Listing out achievements or prizes from school is pretty much baseless. Maintain a chronology and remember; only that for which you have proof (certificates/ letters countersigned by suitable persons) can go on your CV.

Some things that ideally look good on a CV include-

Research papers

Paper/ poster presentations and prizes for the same

Conferences attended

Symposiums/ medical debates attended and won

Clinical audits, internal quality assessments conducted.

In addition to the streamlined academics, your extra curricular involvement throws great light on you as a person. Personally, I believe this is what sets you apart from others. Especially if you’re looking for interviews and employment abroad your overall personality takes a major playing ground alongside your academic performance. Some extracurriculars adding glow to your CV would be-

Cultural/ literary involvements

Involvement in sports

Social service

Any leadership positions held


Finally onto the biggest matter at hand. The D-day! The interviews[2] are in themselves much more important than anything you’ve done so far for that job. With some luck, you may get called for an interview even with average grades and a mediocre CV, all that is brushed off by a great interview. This is the time you get to make a real impression on your recruiter in person. The trick is knowing what the interviewer is looking for and delivering accordingly. I would say it is your demeanour, mannerism and confidence that matters the most. Your body language speaks volumes. Maintain eye contact, be pleasant, and be positive. Asking the right kind of questions regarding the job, hospital or expectations goes on to show your interest in the job. Do not forget to dress formally and professionally.

There are also several agencies that help with CV writing, applying to jobs and prepping for the interviews.

Protip: Convince yourself that you are the best candidate for the job and no one deserves it as you do. Ensure your humility and confidence walk hand in hand and never lose sight of why you have applied for the position.

I would like to end this with a reminder that you will face a lot of rejections especially if you are applying to the US/ UK, and that is alright. There will be times when you do not as much as get a call back from the recruiters, this is absolutely alright too. But have a fall back option, a contingency plan or a safety net. The larger number of applications you send out, the higher the probability of  you landing a job.

Prepare for success, but brace for the failures.


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