How to Avoid Looking Like a “Cookie Cutter” Applicant in the Job Search

March 22nd, 2011 3 Min read How to Avoid Looking Like a “Cookie Cutter” Applicant in the Job Search Blog
Download PDF As a physician, you may find that you have less discretionary time than friends and family who work outside of the medical profession. When you are ready to apply for jobs and new opportunities, you may find yourself pressed to set aside time for your job search and find yourself thinking: Why set aside time to customize your application materials, when you can take a look at a colleague’s CV as a recipe for your own CV? While having backup tools and procedures may serve you well in the OR, using a spare CV of a friend as a model for your own will hurt you rather than help you in the job search. One of my friends discovered this in medical school after he hastily wrote over the CV of a trusted friend. “It wasn’t until after I turned in my CV that I realized I had said that I was a president of a local network of medical students from India. I wasn’t.” Applying for jobs is similar to the anxiety of “Match Day”—only without the drama of finding out where you’ll be while surrounded by classmates and faculty. No one wants to fail to make a match: You don’t, and neither does your employer. To increase your chances of finding your optimal fit for your next job, follow these three easy steps: 1. Customize your application to match the type of position for which you are applying. “There’s no need to include a list of publications in the main body of your CV if you are looking for a hospital position outside of academic medicine,” says Carrie Johnson, a recruitment director at CompHealth. “Attach publications in your addendum, and keep the focus on your clinical and bedside experience.” 2. Customize your CV to highlight your relevant experience for the work environment and 
job function. Would the job require you to perform a procedure that you have completed over 500 times? If yes, demonstrate your expertise by mentioning it in your CV or letter of intent. Is the patient volume or work environment similar to other work environments in which you’ve worked? If yes, state this, too. 3. Present yourself to the employer from their perspective—not your own. Take a big picture perspective of your skills and training relative to their needs—or get a second opinion on what differentiates you from your peers and colleagues.
  • Do you have experience in a similar work environment or in working with special populations served by the facility where you are applying?
  • Have you used the same EMR system?
  • Do you share a mutual point of contact?
Most employers and hiring managers evaluate applications with three primary questions—regardless of what the position is:
  • Where did you learn of the opportunity? (Employers want to know: “Is my advertising campaign for the job working?”)
  • How do your skills and experience line up with the job? (Employers want to know: Is this an “easy fit?” How much training would be required to get up to speed?)
  • Why are you interested? (Most employers seek to make offers only to those candidates who are likely to say yes. Demonstrating your knowledge of the opportunity and that you’ve thought through what would be required is appealing to employers.)
Tailor your applications with this information and you’ll differentiate yourself in the applicant pool by positioning yourself as an easy hire. You’ll also “break the mold” for CV applications by highlighting your unique skills and experiences. About the Author E. Chandlee Bryan, M.Ed., is a certified professional resume writer, coach and former Ivy League career counselor. Prior to starting, her own business, she worked briefly as a recruiter and spent over eight years connecting Ivy League students with employment opportunities. She is the former director of career services of the engineering school at Dartmouth College and worked for many years in career services at the University of Pennsylvania.