Do I need a CV or a resume for a nonclinical job?


“Imagine knocking on someone’s door who you know is home, but she doesn’t answer. Or worse, she opens the door, takes one look, and ‘bam’ slams the door shut.”

Krista Grant, lead physician recruiter at Wake Forest Baptist Health, used the above scenario to describe what it can feel like for physicians applying to nonclinical jobs.

She said a common reason for the rejection is that the doctor used a CV to apply for a job when a resume would have been a more effective calling card. Since she recruits for both clinical and nonclinical positions, Ms. Grant is very familiar with both CVs and resumes.

In this blog, I’m going to show you why a resume is preferred for most nonclinical jobs and give you some key tips for converting your CV to a resume.

Unlike the CV, which is a chronological accounting of your complete professional history, the resume prioritizes information relevant to a specific job with the goal of showing how your qualifications and experience make you a great candidate.

Ms. Grant said that while a CV may work for some nonclinical jobs, a well-written resume makes it easier for the gatekeepers and decision-makers to quickly understand why you are a good fit for the job.

This table highlights the general differences between the CV and resume.

 The purpose of the resume is to get an interview.

Because recruiters typically spend only 7 – 8 seconds on a resume before sealing its fate, it has to catch their attention very quickly with information that shouts,

“I’m the one you want!”

Short of actually writing that, or having some kind of pop-up bribe on your resume, how do you grab the recruiter’s attention with this mini-skirt length document?

You show some leg! Well, resume kind of leg.

Ms. Grant said she reviews more than 1,000 CVs/resumes a year and it makes a big difference when the overall appearance is inviting and easy to scan.

Once you have selected a good-looking template, you want to work on the heart of your resume which is in the Professional Experience Section.

In this section, you use bullet points to describe your job duties and accomplishments and show how you have made a measurable, positive impact in your position.

Ms. Grant shared a simple formula for creating these bullet points:

You did X in X period of time resulting in X (quantify your results). If you can explain how, even better.

Example (for a Physician Advisor)

  • Good – Decreased appeals by 25%
  • Better – Decreased appeals by 25% in 6 months
  • Best – Revitalized observation coding, decreasing appeals by 25% in six months, resulting in $5,000,000 recovered

Now, probably some of you are thinking, I “just” see patients. I don’t have specific job-related accomplishments, and certainly nothing I can quantify.

It’s OK.

A good number of entry-level non-clinical jobs do not expect you to have statistics.

But hiring authorities do want to know how your experience matches the job.

A good place to begin is to print off several job descriptions of interest. Start listing the skills and duties desired by the company. Think about how you use these skills in your current job and create bullet points to capture this experience.

You also want to match as many keywords from the job description on your resume as are relevant for you. For example, if the job description mentions utilization management, level-of-care, and evidence-based medicine, you want these on your resume as the recruiter will be looking for them.

After you have matched the content on your resume as much as possible to the job description, creating a Summary statement is a great way to let the reader know in 3 – 4 sentences who you are and why you are a good fit for the job.  Summary statements have replaced the Objective statement.

Ms. Grant shared these additional tips:

  • Include your credentials after your name
  • Use powerful action verbs
  • Have several other people proofread your resume
  • Follow-up on your resume if you haven’t heard anything. It may have gotten lost in the ATS (Applicant tracking system)

If after going through this process you feel you are coming up


……..and just don’t seem to have the right experience,

I recommend talking to physicians in the type of position you desire to see what additional experience you may need and what steps to take. Recruiters can also be helpful here.

Having a working draft of your resume will avoid scrambling when that coveted job appears. You will be ahead of the game, with more time to prepare for the interview. I want that door to open for you!

Which reminds me, the next blog in this three-part series is on…you guessed it… Interview Prep.

Oh, and if you need help converting that CV to a Resume, I created a new product just for you…. The Carpe Diem Resume Kit. A step-by-step guide to create a Rockstar Resume that will help you land that nonclinical job!

Be back soon,


A very special “Thank you” to Krista Grant for her most helpful contributions to this post.

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  1. Joel Cycenas on January 30, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Nice work Heather.

    • Heather Fork on January 30, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks so much, Joel! Good to hear from you. I hope things are going well.

  2. Nick on October 18, 2019 at 10:35 am

    It is now clear when to use between CV and resume. Thank you, Heather. Thank you to Ms. Grant as well for sharing those tips with us.

  3. Kausar Javed on January 19, 2020 at 7:34 am

    This was a really awesome article! Very helpful!

    • Heather Fork on January 19, 2020 at 7:12 pm

      How very kind of you! Thank you very much. Glad it was helpful for you.

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I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

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You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

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“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

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“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

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Papillion, NE
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“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

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Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

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Colorectal Surgeon

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Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

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"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

- Yuri Shindo, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
Camille Gardner-Beasley

"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

- Camille Gardner-Beasley, MD

Family Medicine
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"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO


"I'm truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be coached by Heather, she is not only a resourceful mentor but a wise and supportive friend. I'm honored to recommend Heather to all my friends and colleagues."

I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities.

- Abbey Awad, MD

Internal Medicine