One of the most important keys to landing an amazing position in healthcare whether that be as an administrator, pharmacist, nurse, doctor, social worker, or some other medical-related position is a great first impression. For most job seekers the first impression an employer receives of you is your healthcare resume. Creating a readable resume is a vital part of the job search process and can be the difference between being passed over and landing your dream position. While you should customize your resume to the specific role you are applying for, here are some tips to keep in mind before you hit submit on your next job application.
Healthcare Resumes vs. CVs
Two common tools used by hiring managers to evaluate candidates in the medical industry are resumes and CVs (curriculum vitae). You may be asked to submit one of them or both of them. While they can have many similarities, it is important to note the difference between a CV and a resume. Think of a resume as an ad you are creating for hiring managers. They tend to be a snapshot of who you are, giving hiring managers a summary of your professional experience and qualifications. They are generally only one to two pages long. Comparatively, a CV is a detailed report on you. They tend to be more lengthy, providing greater detail compared to a healthcare resume covering a comprehensive list of your education, certifications, work and research experience, professional memberships and affiliations, publications, and other related topics.
Formatting Your Healthcare Resume
How your resume is formatted is often the first impression hiring managers will have of you. There are plenty of resume templates online that you can use as a starting point. The best resumes are clean and professional. Each section of your resume should start with a heading, with the most important sections, like education and work history, towards the top. The information in each section should also be presented chronologically. Try to bullet information whenever possible to make it easier to understand and faster to digest. Your margins should be 1 inch on all sides and you should keep your font size between 10-14. You should also submit your resume as either a PDF or a word document.
Utilize Keywords and Buzzwords to Highlight Your Skills
Many modern HR departments are starting to use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will screen and rank resumes and only present hiring managers with the applicants that the AI thinks is best suited for the position. One of the best ways you can make your resume more ATS-friendly is to incorporate keywords and buzzwords into your work history and other accomplishments. Review the job description and responsibilities to search for specific qualifications that they are looking for. For example, if one of the requirements mentions a specific patient care software be sure to reference that specific technology somewhere in your resume. Here are some other types of key phrases that help get your medical resume noticed:
- Clinical skills
- Communication strengths
- Strategic planning
- Project and/or operations management
- Treatment experience
- Specific software and medical technology expertise
- Grant Writing and fundraising
- Languages (fluent in)
- Research and publications
- Professional Development classes, seminars, trainings, and conferences
- Management experience
- Public speaking
- Participation in continuous quality initiatives (CQI)
Be Less Vague and More Descriptive
Use descriptive phrases that begin with action verbs when you are describing your different professional experiences in healthcare. Whenever possible you should also try to quantify your experiences. This is a great way to show quantitative evidence that you will be an asset to the organization. Use statistics that are relevant to your specific healthcare professions such as readmissions or expense reductions. Instead of saying “I helped improve hospital systems” try “developed, presented, and implemented new patient care guidelines that led to a 5% decrease in administrative expenses.”
Sections to Include in Your Healthcare Resume
This section should go at the very top of your healthcare resume and is all about providing all the information recruiters and hiring managers need to connect with you. Information that should be included in this area of your medical resume includes:
- Phone number (make sure your voice message is professional)
- Email address
- Link to your Linkedin
- Address (optional)
This section should go directly under the contact information. Think of this area of your resume as an “elevator pitch” about yourself; how would you describe yourself if you were on a short elevator ride with the hiring manager. It should include a brief summary of your qualifications and the value you would bring to the organization. If for example, you were using this in a healthcare administrator resume you would want to ask yourself what qualifications and expertise you can bring to this management job, then create a concise summary of those ideas. This is NOT a cover letter. You should only be including about 2-4 sentences of information here.
Areas of Expertise
Many healthcare professionals open their resumes with an “Areas of Expertise” section. This makes your most relevant and impressive skills a focal point of your healthcare resume. An expertise section is also a perfect place to include the buzzwords and keywords we talked about a little earlier. Some areas you can feature for example for a management job in a healthcare administrator resume include:
- HR skills
- Software and databases expertise
- Patient relationship and customer service
- Public relations
- Staff supervision and delegation
- Oral and written communication skills
- Budgeting and cost analysis
- Knowledge of specific medications and procedures
- Compliance with regulations and laws like HIPAA
- Knowledge of insurance policies
- Contract negotiations
Knowledge is everything in healthcare. You want to show off that you are a knowledgeable candidate who has the necessary education to handle the role you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an administrative or executive role you would want to highlight an impressive master’s degree like a Master’s in Health Services Administration. These types of programs aim to teach you valuable leadership skills and recruiters know it. You should include all your educational degrees including bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees. When writing this area of your healthcare resume be sure to include:
- University or Educational Institution
- GPA (only if it will make you look impressive and set you apart, usually 3.5 or higher)
- Graduation Year (optional)
The “work experience” section will likely be the most important and valuable part of your healthcare resume. List your previous positions in chronological order and include the company/place of employment, job title, and length of time you worked in the role. Use bullet points to highlight significant accomplishments and performance outcomes for each job. Focus less on the specific duties of each position and instead demonstrate how what you have done previously in the healthcare industry will add value to the business or organization you want to work for. While your CV includes all your previous work experience, your healthcare resume should only highlight the most recent or relevant jobs related to the one you are applying for. Generally, you only want to highlight three to five positions with maybe three bullet points each.
Certifications and Licenses
If you have any licenses, trainings, or certifications that are relevant or the job description specifically calls out specific ones you will want to list them somewhere on your healthcare resume. A healthcare administration resume for instance can feature that you are Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC), a Certified Financial Professional (CFHP), a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS), or a Certified Diabetic Educator.
Before you submit your healthcare resume make sure you have a fresh pair of eyes to look over it. Read your resume aloud. Get a friend, family member, or colleague to review it. You can even run it through grammar tools like Grammarly. Typos and poor grammar can be the kiss of death for your resume. These types of oversights can demonstrate a lack of attention to detail, which can be concerning to healthcare recruiters, especially since a simple mistake on the job can often be the difference between a patient living or dying.