As you make your way through veterinary school, you will soon need to build a resume to use for externships, internships, jobs, and the like. For many of us, this will be the first time we have had to create an official resume, so of course there will be lots of questions. With that, I hope these quick tips will help you put together a resume you can be proud of.
Disclaimer: There is not one right way to build your resume. Take these tips as just some ideas on how to format yours. This is not the end-all-be-all.
A first point of clarification: What is the difference between a resume and a “CV” (curriculum vitae…bet you didn’t know what “CV” stood for…). In a nutshell, a resume is a one- or two-page document that highlights your experience as it pertains to a specific job or opportunity you’re applying for. A “CV” is a longer document that briefly describes (most) everything you’ve done as it relates to your career. For example, a veterinary “CV” could include your college clubs, coursework, conferences attended, all your veterinary jobs, etc. Whereas a resume may include your most important veterinary jobs and experience, your most important skills, and any other specific highlights that may help you land the job. For most veterinary students, a resume would be more appropriate if you’re looking for a job. If you’re a seasoned veterinarian looking for an academia position, management position, etc., a “CV” may fit better.
Now onto resume building. With each item it’s important to include the date or dates and location. Be sure to include a header at the top that includes your name, email, phone number, and any social media handles you’d want to include. Here are the sections, in order, of how I’ve built my resume as I look for an associate veterinarian position:
- Veterinary Experience. Outside of school, what veterinary positions have you held? Technician, veterinary assistant, intern, resident, extern, or preceptor? Any position that would prove to your future employer that you’ve had opportunities to build skills that pertain to the job for which you’re applying. But keep it relevant. Don’t include the kennel attendant position that you held when you were twelve.
- Conferences, Extracurricular Activities, Certifications. Have you attended any veterinary conferences or trade shows? What clubs have you been part of in veterinary schools? Are certified in any veterinary programs (such as Fear Free, VBMA, etc.)?
- Skills and Awards. What skills do you have that would make you an attractive candidate for the job? Client communication? Do you have advanced skills in any computer programs? Do you have training in social media or marketing? Have you received any awards (probably just in vet school) that make you stand out?
- Leadership. What leadership positions have you held in veterinary school? School clubs? SAVMA? School governance? Any leadership roles in the community?
- Education. This one’s pretty simple. Where did you do your undergraduate and veterinary school work, +/- graduate school, post-bac, post-doc, etc.?
You’ll notice I did not include GPA in this list. Here’s why: generally, it’d only be recommended to think about including your vet school GPA if it’s above a 3.7 or so. Anything below and you open the door to questions about your academic performance, which in my opinion doesn’t have much foresight on your performance out in the real world. But if you do have a very high GPA and you do include it, it can sometimes come off as bragging and arrogant. So I feel it’s just better to keep GPA off. From my experience in speaking to veterinarians, they don’t care what you’re grades or NAVLE score was. They care more about how you’ll fit into their culture and philosophy. You’ve graduated (or will soon graduate) from vet school, so it’s a general understanding that you possess the base skills to practice veterinary medicine. Now if you graduated with honors, feel free to include that in the education section.
I hope this sample format generates ideas for you as you craft your resume. If you’d like to see my resume as a sample, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.