Moving out of Medicine? 

If you are moving away from medicine you may feel your skills and experiences bear little resemblance to the requirements for non-medical careers. The truth is that there is a huge cross over between the skills you have gained to date and the ones that other sectors look for.

As a student of medicine you will have a great combination of skills: team working, interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, decision making, planning, and the abilities to manage your time, assess data and work under pressure, not to mention those skills and experience you have gained beyond your studies.

Remember, half of all graduate jobs are open to graduates of any discipline.

The Basics 

  • A CV provides basic information about yourself and should be tailored to show how you meet the employer’s requirements.
  • Most jobs have a person specification which sets out what is required of you. Go through this highlighting key phrases and use this to demonstrate your suitability. If there is no person specification you will need to do some research.
  • A non-medical CV should be no longer than two pages. Beyond this, there are no definitive rules for the structure of a CV so it needn’t look the same as everyone else’s. It’s essential to put the time in to think yours through properly, as you won’t have much time to impress the reader.
  • Consider what it is about you and the things you have done that make you different. Expressing your motivations for the organisation and job are an important part of engaging interest.
  • It must always be designed to be as easy as possible for the reader to get to the information they are looking for quickly.

Types of CVs 

Traditional/chronological
Probably the most common style of CV, the simplest format to produce and easy for the recipient to see what you have done.

Skills-based
Focuses on the skills developed through a range of activities (that are not necessarily relevant). To highlight these, the information is arranged within 4 or 5 subheadings relating to the main requirements of the employer.

Useful if:

  • You have lots of transferable skills but no directly relevant experience.
  • You have lots of directly relevant experience that would appear repetitive if demonstrated in the traditional style of CV.

Suggested Headings (Traditional CVs) 

Personal Details
Name, address, e-mail, phone numbers. Nationality is optional. Age and marital status should not be included.

A ‘Career Aim’ or ‘Objective’ (optional)
This goes at the beginning beneath your personal details and can be useful to focus the reader, especially if you’re changing careers. It should be short, sharp and purposeful, demonstrating your direction – not a list of adjectives about you.

You don't have to explain your reasons for your change of career here, but if you feel a short statement would be helpful (always emphasise the positives) then it is acceptable to include this. Keep it brief!

Education and qualifications
Include dates and results. For undergraduate studies onwards, include the institution where you studied. Give additional information on units of study or research if they are relevant. Only use one line each for A-levels and GCSEs.

Employment/Work Experience
Include work, paid or unpaid, however unrelated to the job. Expand a little – describe the duties, skills and what you learned even for basic jobs and include significant achievements and instances in which you ‘added value’ to the activities or the organisation. You could divide this section into ‘related’ and ‘other’ work experience.

Volunteering
Any voluntary work you’ve done will be highly regarded as it demonstrates motivation and commitment. Either arrange it into a distinct section, or incorporate it into your work experience or responsibilities sections.

Skills
Should be fed into your CV within your examples, for example: “managed and motivated a small team of people…..” Some people include a skills profile, a short evidenced list that focuses the reader on your main skill areas, usually on the first page. There is also the option of producing a skills based CV.

Responsibilities, Achievements and Interests
Everyone arranges this differently depending on what they have done.

Interests are important to show how you have contributed outside of work/study, and your personal development. Don’t just list them – put them into a meaningful context. They are often in a separate section.

Responsibilities can include roles within clubs and societies. Don’t just list ‘treasurer’ - treat them like a job and show the skills you have used and developed.

Your achievements may overlap with either of the above. Ensure that you demonstrate why it is an achievement by showing your development as a result of the activity and adding a context for the reader to understand. Don’t use abbreviations or acronyms the reader might not understand.

Additional Skills
Such as IT and languages. Name the packages and/or languages and your level of proficiency.

References
Give two referees, ideally one academic and one from employment. Always get permission first. Make sure they haven’t moved and provide their name, title, address (including postcode), phone numbers and e-mail addresses. ‘References available on request’ is fine if you lack space, haven’t finalised them yet or are submitting a CV on spec.

Presentation 

  • Put your information in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
  • The recommended font size is 12 in a plain font style. This is easier for photocopying and, as 12 is one of the most commonly-used font size in publications, does not ‘jar’
  • Limit the ‘effects’ you use. Be consistent with font size and style. Don’t underline excessively, it’s perfectly acceptable for headings (or use bold type) but too much can be distracting.
  • You can use bullet points to break up information. Avoid long paragraphs or poorly headed sub-sections as this is hard to follow
  • Use the tab key, rather than the space bar, to get your alignment right.
  • Be consistent with your style throughout.

Dos and Don’ts 

  • Do get it checked – by a friend, colleague or a careers adviser
  • Do your research, on the company and the role, and demonstrate this
  • Do pay attention to spelling, grammar and presentation – otherwise it will find its way to the bin
  • Do ensure the CV is in a format the reader can access if you e-mail it
  • Do use positive language that will enthuse the reader – they need to know you are interested and confident
  • If you are printing hard copies, do use good quality white paper
  • Do only submit a CV if asked to. If an application form is stipulated don’t send a CV.


  • Don’t expect the reader to make assumptions. If you omit any information, they cannot give you credit.
  • Don’t use the same CV for every application. Maintain a standard copy which you adapt each application
  • Don’t spend less time on your covering letter
  • Don’t play down your experience or achievements. Show how transferable they are and consequently how employable you are!

Further resources 

  • Prospects – see especially the section on CVs and Covering letters.
  • University Careers Service Websites – often a great source of example CVs.