Don’t assume that your old resume is “good enough”!
The medical field is highly competitive. Whether you are looking for a position in nursing, physical therapy, patient advocacy, or hospital administration, you must know that prospective employers move fast and make split-second decisions. The best thing you can do to advance your candidacy is to ensure that your resume is the best representation of your education and professional experience.
Accomplishing this isn’t easy, especially if you are trying to do it on your own. Even highly qualified candidates often don’t dedicate enough time to optimizing their resume — or simply don’t know which changes would create the greatest points of leverage. Here are the top five signs that your resume could benefit from a professional review.
Most professionals update their resume from time to time, even when they are not in active job-hunt mode. However, it’s important to understand that small tweaks (such as adding a new certification or accomplishment) aren’t the same as a holistic clean-up. If your resume is more than five years old, it probably needs an overhaul!
Resume formats change quickly. In fact, within the last five to seven years, the old “objective statement” has been replaced by a tightly worded professional summary that combines your accomplishments and skills to highlight your fit for the job. Meanwhile, general-use resumes have been left behind in favor of targeted documents that are customized for each position you are interested in. There are new expectations about resume formatting, and unless you routinely review resumes as a part of your job, getting this right can be a challenge.
Virtually all modern resumes must pass through an automated software known as the applicant tracking system (ATS for short) before they land in front of a hiring manager. To clear that threshold, you must be sure to include specific keywords and phrases that will trigger the ATS to put your resume into the “Qualified” folder, as opposed to discarding it as unqualified for the position.
Knowing which keywords matter, and how to use them appropriately, is both an art and a science. It is an art and a science because you must deeply understand your professional field and have insight into what matters most to the hiring manager. A good job description will provide some cues. For example, if the job description mentions grant writing and you have the relevant experience, be sure to include that term on your resume! Some positions may require experience in managing regulatory compliance while working with a city or state program. Others prioritize candidates whose research has been published in a well-regarded journal. A position’s description is usually a good start, but sometimes the best way to reverse-engineer the ATS algorithm is by working with a resume specialist who has experience helping candidates in the medical field.
A personal statement, which was a required part of your application, is your opportunity to explain what you want to accomplish in your medical career. Professionals who are looking for a nursing, pharmaceutical, physician, or even a hospital administration position should consider updating their personal statement for their resume. Many candidates treat this as a formality, not realizing that the personal statement is a tremendous opportunity to create a memorable impact. A fresh set of eyes can be helpful in making sure your personal statement is both clear and compelling.
Professional education is important in every field, but especially so in medicine. Whether your next job involves being responsible for someone’s well-being or supporting professionals in patient-facing roles, employers are looking at resumes to find evidence of a firm commitment to training and development. Unfortunately, many candidates are afraid to make their list of coursework and medical certifications “too long.” As a result, the resume errs on the side of being brief and modest, but pales in comparison to peers who are willing to offer a complete list of their credentials. So, be sure to include every relevant course and certification, add expiration dates where appropriate, and renew any relevant certifications that may have expired — ideally before you have to look for a new job.
The formal style of writing a resume can feel restrictive, and candidates often struggle to find the right balance between crafting a resume that’s professional and making it their own. A resume that “fits” a variety of medical field jobs is yet another common mistake — there is no single resume that can represent a candidate equally well for several different opportunities! This is why a generic resume is a liability. It will likely fail to stand out to the hiring manager and compromise your chances of getting an interview.
How can you remedy this common mistake? To start, make sure that your resume addresses both your technical qualifications and the “softer” patient-facing skills. While your medical or specialized technical training may look similar to someone else’s, your approach to patient care can help you stand out. If you are looking for a non-patient-facing role, think about your commitment and positive impact on the professionals around you.
Next, use the keywords that you know are important for the position. For example, you might highlight your contribution to the Continuous Quality Initiative (CQI) in your last job. Remember that numbers and other objective details can ground the resume and provide content. If you have successfully managed a caseload of X in a X-size clinic, or shortened the month-end financial close for a hospital from 15 days down to 9 days over the course of 6 months, write it down.
Job hunting can be difficult. The good news is that with a perfect resume, you can be on your way to more interviews, more opportunities, and ultimately the next amazing job in the field that changes and saves lives. Don’t let common mistakes and misconceptions derail your progress! Submit your resume today for a free resume evaluation to increase your chances of landing the right job, sooner.
Natalia Autenrieth is a regular contributor to TopResume, the largest resume-writing service in the world. TopResume offers a range of resume-writing services including expertly written and keyword-optimized resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Does your resume need a second opinion? Request a free resume review today!