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Curriculum vitae (CV). The words sound foreign, but it must be something you should know about since EVERY residency and postgraduate application is asking for one. The CV is really just your life story pared down to a manageable few pages. Okay … it's not really your ENTIRE life story since not everyone needs to know about your pet fish and your collection of autographs from the 1953 Wisconsin Badgers or 1962 Minnesota Golden Gophers Rose Bowl football teams. But a CV does highlight the important aspects of your education and career to potential residency program directors (RPDs) and employers.

The terms CV and resume are often used interchangeably, but they are very different documents. Resumes are traditionally one- or two-page documents that give a very brief synopsis of your education and employment history. Resumes do not typically include lengthy descriptions of accomplishments or participation and are often truncated to be applicable to the position you are seeking. On the other hand, CVs are generally much longer in length than resumes and include a complete history of your accomplishments. CVs for a recent pharmacy school graduate can be 3 to 6 pages long, but will eventually grow to be 10-, 15-, or 20-page documents as your career progresses. A CV is the perfect place to provide descriptions of educational and employment involvement and contributions. The use of CVs varies from country to country, but a good rule of thumb is that professional careers in the health sciences and academia require a CV. You have entered a profession where the use of CVs is the norm.

If CVs are so much longer than resumes and have so much detail, why would anyone who is looking to hire a resident or pharmacist even bother to read all of it? In reality, they might not read every detail, but they will want to be able to discern the types of rotations you've completed, your involvement in pharmacy school, and your past employment history. RPDs can be flooded with 10 to 15 times as many applications as there are actual resident spots, thus CVs are often used as the first way to pare down an overwhelming list of potential residents and determine who is invited for a residency interview. CVs are also used extensively in the residency interview process. An applicant's CV is the source of lots of information for an interviewer and should be an easy source of talking points for you.

You might be thinking to yourself right now that there's no way you have enough material to create a substantial CV. You may also be worried that you may not be strong enough in certain areas of your CV. We certainly don't condone including fictitious or embellished accomplishments (more on that later in the chapter), but if you stop for a minute and think about all of the things you've done in pharmacy school, we're pretty sure you'll come ...

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