You’ve been applying to jobs for weeks now (and maybe using our complete job search guide as a reference!) but haven’t heard anything. If you’ve been sending out resumes everywhere you can imagine, it may be time to take a closer look at your applications, particularly at your resume.
You hear the word “resume,” and it conjures images of black ink printed on white paper, a bolded name in Times New Roman perfectly centered at the top of the page. Just below it, in smaller type, the address and phone number of the hopeful applicant followed by their work experience, education, and the all-important “References available upon request.”
Yes, it’s every bit as boring as it sounds.
According to a study conducted by the Ladders, the average recruiter spends only six seconds reviewing a resume, so it’s absolutely essential that your resume stands out from the rest.
While we’re not talking about going full Elle Woods and presenting a pink, scented resume to potential employers, we want to help you create a healthcare resume that looks professional, polished, and will get you noticed by the right recruiter and hiring manager.
Why is having a great resume important?
According to Alison Green, author of Ask a Manager, your resume should answer one question: “What did you accomplish in this job that someone else wouldn’t have?” Employers know you had a job with a job description, but they want to know that you went beyond just showing up and doing the minimum. She adds, “If you can’t answer that [question] yourself, and you’re the one who was right there doing the work every day, how do you expect a hiring manager who doesn’t know you to figure it out?”
So let’s get started. Here’s how to organize and format your healthcare resume to stand out, focus on your accomplishments, and land your next opportunity.
The key to a winning healthcare resume format
According to Dave, one of our talent advisors, the hallmark of a good resume is, “one that is clean, simple and easy to read.” He adds, “Obviously the content is important, but making your resume clean and appealing is super helpful.” If you’re job hunting, or if your resume is still stuck in the boring, black and white phase, you probably need to give it a refresh.
Luckily, there are a number of excellent resume template builders that you can use to create a professional, polished resume. Both google and Microsoft Word offer a number of templates you can use, or you can find one on a web-based platform like Canva, Creative Market, or ineedaresu.me. Templates are helpful since all you will need to do is copy and paste your information.
When choosing a template, you should also consider how you want to organize the information. Most healthcare professionals prefer to start with their experience, then education, then licenses and certifications, but this may change depending on where you are in your career. For example, if you’ve just graduated, you may prefer to list your education first, whereas if you’ve obtained any kind of specialty license, you may start with your certifications.
Regardless of what you list first, make sure to use bullet points to make the resume easy for a potential employer, recruiter, or hiring manager to scan.
Now that you’ve chosen a layout, what information should be included for a healthcare resume?
It may seem obvious, but a phone number, name, and email address is essential for any resume, not just a healthcare one. Worth noting, though, is the importance of having a professional email address. “As I was preparing to graduate college, and I was sending out my resume to different employers, I wasn’t getting much interest,” says Ashley Haugen, a Nashville, TN-based professional. “My dad asked if he could look at my resume and offer some input, and the first thing he spotted was my email address, which was something ridiculous and unprofessional that I’d had throughout college. So I created a new email address that included my name, and I updated my resume to include it, and I did actually start hearing back from people.”
One more important thing to keep in mind is that in the age of social media, a potential employer will most likely be doing a quick Facebook or Instagram search to get a look at the “real” you and how you present yourself online. A simple audit of your online profiles is a great way to save you any unwanted embarrassment.
Should I include a summary?
Adding a summary or objective to your resume has become more popular in recent years, and some see it as a good way to frame your candidacy. Since this is an optional part of your resume, don’t include unless the summary adds significant value to your overall resume, or if you have many years of experience in a field and need the statement to tie your career choices together. Additionally, it's best to be extremely succinct and avoid buzzwords (this article from the Muse dives into this very topic).
Job Responsibilities and Professional Experience
A section that provides hard evidence of your experience in the healthcare industry is a must. For your resume, you should list your jobs in reverse chronological order, with the most recent job you’ve held listed first.
In addition to the position, you should always include any accomplishments you achieved while in a position. “It’s one thing to note that you were the lead general practice nurse at clinic XYZ from 1995-2003,” says healthcare industry writer Angela Rose, “but it’s another to back up that statement with hard facts that illustrate the significance of the position.” Examples she cites include providing the number of people you may have supervised or managed, specific examples of achievements, etc. “Hiring managers are interested in this type of information,” she adds.
If you don’t have any specific, measurable accomplishments that can be listed on a resume, think about any “soft” skills you have and format them into bullet points.
- Built reputation for working successfully with previously unhappy clients
- Became go-to staff member for relaying complicated medical information to patients of diverse backgrounds
- Sought out by doctor and practice manager to write and edit client correspondence, exam notes, and web content
While these aren’t measurable skills (i.e. “increased website traffic by 50%”) they still demonstrate how you went above and beyond in your current position.
Education and Training
You will definitely want to include a section about your education and any relevant training you’ve had. Be sure to list your degrees, as well as any post-graduate degree(s) you have earned. Also, include the name of the college or university you attended and the years you attended the school. If there is a gap in between any of your schooling, be prepared to provide an honest, concise response as to why you took time away. Here’s a guide to explaining gaps in your resume.
Licenses and Certifications
For healthcare resumes, especially in nursing, having the right licenses and certifications are essential. Use a separate section to list any licenses you have (bulleted, of course!). “The first thing I look for on a healthcare resume is certifications and education,” Dave says, since not having the right licenses for a job means an automatic rejection.
If you have gone through any relevant training programs or hold any certifications that give you an edge over another applicant, include that here as well. Just make sure it’s information that is pertinent to the job and/or healthcare industry.
When you have your resume in what you consider to be its final form, have a trusted friend or loved one read over it to ensure that it makes sense and is free of typos. And always use spell check. Lastly, step away from it for 24 hours, and then re-read it with fresh eyes for one final pass. Odds are high you will spot one tiny something that you want to change, and that waiting period will allow you that opportunity.
The bottom line is this: If this is a job that you really, really want, then take the time and the necessary steps needed to create a solid resume that’s customized for the job. The added effort will be evident, and you’ll be a much stronger candidate because of it!
If you want to take your job search to the next level, we’d love to help your resume find the right hiring manager. Browse hundreds of jobs on the Relode platform, and we’ll make sure you find the right fit, fast.