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July 22, 2007
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Prepare a resumé or CV with a cover letter
By Jean Murray, PhD

If you haven’t already put together a résumé or a curriculum vitae (CV), there is no time like the present. You’ll find many uses for the résumé as you go through chiropractic school:

Here are some common questions and answers about résumés:

Q. What’s the purpose of a résumé?

A. The résumé is a sales tool to get your reader to grant you an interview (or a scholarship). Along with the cover letter, the résumé is the reader’s first experience with you, so you want it to be as perfect and complete and professional as possible.

Q. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV (curriculum vitae)?

A. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the two documents are different — in purpose as well as in format.

A résumé is used in business situations for the purpose of obtaining a job interview; a CV is used in academic situations for academic applications (promotions and tenure) and for publicity.

The résumé often lists education and experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and usually includes only the information needed to persuade an employer to call for an interview. The curriculum vitae (which literally means "a running of the life") is a more detailed listing of academic, professional, consulting, and publication experience.

Since you are preparing a business document, it’s more likely that you are preparing a résumé. It doesn’t matter what it’s called, as long as it contains the pertinent information.

Q. Someone told me résumé must be on one page. Is that true?

A. Your résumé should be as long as it needs to be. It doesn’t have to be limited to just one page, but the most important information (your education and professional skills and training) should be on the first page.

If it is possible to limit your résumé to one page and still be effective, that’s great. Many résumés, especially for people who have had a number of professional positions, cannot be limited in this way. Quantity is not as important as quality.

Q. Should I include only my chiropractic experience and education?

A. The more information you provide to readers, the better able they will be to assess your work ethic and background. Certainly include all colleges and schools you’ve attended after high school, and all the job experience within the last 10 years — even that summer job at the local fast food place. All of this work shows your work habits and abilities.

Q. What other information should I include in my résumé?

A. Include information about your education and your work background. Highlight special training and chiropractic techniques in which you have taken classes. Don’t forget to mention any practice-management training or seminars you have attended.

Q. Should I include references in my résumé? What should I exclude from the résumé?

A. Most experts suggest that you not include:

Q. Do I have to print my résumé and cover letter on fancy paper? Should I go to a copy place and have the résumé professionally printed?

A. It is what is printed on the page that’s important, not the paper or printing. Everything needs to be neat and error-free and professional-looking, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive paper or printing.

Q. Should I include a cover letter with my résumé? What should I say?

A. Yes, you should always include a cover letter with any important correspondence, including a résumé. The cover letter draws the reader into the résumé, explains why you are sending this résumé, and is part of the selling device. The cover letter should be laid out in four parts (each with a separate paragraph):

1. Describe why you are writing (to apply for a scholarship, to respond to an ad for an associate position, etc.).

2. Point out how your experience and education fit the position. Your main purpose in this cover letter is to get the person to read the résumé.

3. Discuss any personal characteristics that can’t be included in a résumé, such as your social skills or your background working with children. Include any personal information the reader might need to know, such as your availability and willingness to relocate.

4. Finally, close with a statement expressing interest in the position or scholarship, and indicate the best way to contact you. Even if you have included your contact information at the top of the letter, include it again (e-mail address, phone, and cell phone) here. Go to the Resource page to see a sample cover letter.

Q. Can I send résumés to search for a position that’s not advertised?

A. Certainly. Many students have found positions in specific areas by sending out résumés to DCs in the area and following up with a phone call.

One final note: Before you send out your résumé and cover letter, proofread them carefully. Ask someone else to look them over, too. Be sure they are absolutely perfect — no typos, no misspellings, nothing out of alignment, or in different fonts. One mistake can destroy your great effort!

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