Polishing Your Resume

Now that you’ve finally received your diploma or decided on a career change, the next step is to launch an effective job-search campaign to find that dream position. To accomplish this, you’ll need a well-written r‚sum‚.

Competition for many health jobs has become increasingly intense over the past few years, primarily due to the lingering recession – showing no signs of abatement anytime soon. Your r‚sum‚ is a personal marketing tool that must be crafted so you’ll stand out from the crowd.

The Right Format
An effective r‚sum‚ should focus on your future and what you offer employers – not your work history. Document and prioritize the skills you’ve developed during your training so you’re emphasizing accomplishments over past job descriptions.

Although there are several formats to consider, health care professionals should stick with the chronological format. List your work history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent clinical experience listed first and your earliest clinical experience last. Students can highlight their clinical experiences most effectively in this format. This format is also a favorite among employers because it’s the easiest to read when shuffling through a pile of r‚sum‚s.

The top of your r‚sum‚ should list your name and contact information: mailing address, e-mail address and phone numbers. Traditionally, the objective appears next. However, the industry trend in r‚sum‚ writing is to first list an effective headline – a short, high-impact sentence that draws attention to your unique skills and abilities. A headline states what you have to offer prospective employers, while the objective states what you want.

Compare the statements below about the same recent graduate:

Objective: Seeking a position as a respiratory therapist
Headline: Top-performing recent graduate in respiratory therapy with proven skills in all areas of general respiratory care and patient care

It’s pretty obvious the objective says nothing about the candidate. Assuming he graduated in a class of 20 students, this has just described everyone in the class. Of course, every recent grad wants a job; that’s why they went to school. The headline, on the other hand, can tell employers the student graduated at the top of the class or with an exceptionally high grade point average (GPA), and is competent in all entry-level areas of radiologic technology.

Next, expand on the headline with “selling points” in the summary of qualifications section. In 4-9 bullets (or a short paragraph), convey key selling points to highlight what you offer to employers, including skills and personal traits.

Education – one of the most critical parts of any student r‚sum‚ – appears next. When listing educational information, catalog honors and achievements and include your GPA if it’s 3.0 or better. If you have another college degree or relevant certification/training – including state licensure, CPR certification or related experience – include that too. It could possibly lead to a higher salary.

Share Your Experience
Work experience (titled “Professional Experience,” “Career Progression” or “Work History”) comes next. If you’re a recent graduate with no paid experience, you should list clinical rotations, internships or other training as “clinical experience.” If you have other non-specific history in health care, create an “Experience” section. Non-health care experience can then be listed within the section “Additional Experience.”

When composing your clinical experience section, list on one line the name and location (city and state) of the health care facility and the dates. On the line underneath the employer, list your job title. Consider your responsibilities and include them here. To energize your r‚sum‚ and increase its readability, begin each bulleted line with a strong action verb. Also, use a different action verb for each bulleted line.

After experience, there are other sections to consider to identify your unique qualities and increase marketability. If you won any academic or clinical awards, create an awards section or include them in your education section. If you belong to multiple professional local, state or national organizations, add a professional affiliations section. Remember, health care is culturally diverse; therefore, if you are proficient in a foreign language, add a languages area.

Also, listing military service can increase your chances of getting hired; many employers give veterans’ preference to former members of the military, especially within the federal or state government. Finally, consider adding volunteer work, especially if relevant to health care, and don’t forget to showcase your computer skills.

John Femia is a retired radiologic technologist with more than 22 years of experience in multiple modalities. He owns and operates Custom R‚sum‚ & Writing Service (www.customresumewriting.com).

About The Author