Resume Writing

Presenting Yourself on Paper

If you are seeking a new opportunity, you want to develop a compelling resume and avoid having it quickly placed in a reject pile. Even if you are not actively looking, creating an up to date resume is a valuable investment for any professional. An annual or semi-annual review of your resume and recent accomplishments allows you to objectively appraise how you are performing against your organization’s strategic objectives. This is also a good time to consider what is happening in your field and your own personal goals. The healthcare industry is in a period of flux and change. A current, well- designed resume positions you to respond quickly to an unanticipated opportunity or an unexpected change in your current job. This article contains suggestions for creating an effective resume.

Select a resume style that is professional, well-structured and easily read. Busy executives scan the first page of a resume. If it piques their interest, they will put it aside for a more in-depth review. The first page is prime real estate not to be wasted. On the other hand, resumes that are too complicated or stuffed with information that runs to the edge of the page appear exhausting to a potential reader. Strike a balance between information and space.

While functional and chronological resumes are acceptable, we find our clients prefer a chronological style. On the first page, your name should appear in large font and bold type and your full contact information should be easily accessible. If your education and your current position, including accomplishments, are included on page one, the reviewer has a quick snap shot of you. On subsequent pages, you can list all prior positions with dates and a brief organizational/position description. Add honors, professional associations, presentations and publications and the resume is complete.

The most critical part of your resume is your accomplishments; they separate you from other applications with similar experience. If you are actively applying for a job, research the organization to understand the expectations and possible challenges of the position. If you regularly revise your resume, you can fine tune and highlight additional accomplishments relevant to a specific position with only a small additional investment of your time.

Some resume pointers:

  • Include accomplishments that are measureable and contain metrics.
  • Identify specific departmental and organizational outcomes that link directly to your performance.
  • Avoid achievements that are overly vague, are processes vs. outcomes or elements contained in a job description.
  • Use the most current terminology and focus on issues relevant to the position you are applying for and on major issues facing healthcare organizations today.
  • Demonstrate a logical career progression that shows advancement in scope of responsibility, span of control, or complexity of role.
  • If there are gaps in your resume or frequent moves, present the information accurately. If necessary, include a brief explanation in your cover letter such as: work in interim roles, necessary geographical moves or circumstances beyond your control. Everyone understands organizational closures, mergers and downsizing.
  • Show evidence of continued learning and involvement in professional organizations and community leadership.
    Adopt a professional style that is easy to read and free of typos or grammatical errors.

If you are selected for a telephone or in person interview, you have passed the first hurdle. Congratulations! Now is the time to do your due diligence about the organization’s culture, values, strategic goals and challenges to prepare you to excel in your personal interview.

Email Jane Fitzsimmons, RN, MSN,