Giving Your Healthcare Resume a Clean Bill of Health

Published: Apr 09, 2012

By Alex Twersky, Marketing Consultant and Career Expert

The healthcare field has experienced rapid changes recently. If you’re in the field, your resume needs to reflect an awareness of these changes (from cost-cutting to increased regulation) as well as present your own professional credentials in the strongest way possible. I’ve compiled an easy-to-follow roadmap to ensure that your healthcare resume is in the best health possible, and that it gets noticed by potential employers:

RESUME STRUCTURE: WHICH DO I CHOOSE? This choice can be as elusive as the solution to a lab experiment. Do you go with a reverse-chronological format that lay out your experience position by position from the most recent backwards, or is a CV format more appropriate, outlining your significant credentials, skills, publications and achievements? The answer is… it depends. If you’re a healthcare manager or administrator, a reverse-chronological resume is probably more appropriate, especially if you’re coming from a field outside healthcare. However, if you’re a doctor, researcher or academic, a CV might work better to clearly present your qualifications and accomplishments.

BE DESCRIPTIVE! One of the things that define you in the healthcare field is your specialization. Whether you’re a doctor or social worker, you may have developed a focus on a particular patient population, or a specific patient challenge. Make sure you elaborate on this as a way to distinguish your special expertise, no matter what your role in the healthcare field.

HIGHLIGHT SPECIAL SKILLS. Perhaps you’re a whiz at databases or accounting programs? Or maybe you’ve mastered a specific kind of scientific research, or you’re an expert at balancing a hospital’s books? In any or all of these cases, you must ensure that your resume accentuates any special skills because this presentation will be critical to setting you apart from other candidates.

NUMBERS MATTER! Any time you can quantify something you’ve done, you’re providing the reader of your resume with a type of shorthand to absorb the impact of your accomplishment. For example, imagine the difference between saying you wrote a successful scientific research grant, and saying the same thing but mentioning that you drew over $2 million in NIH research funds? Both statements say essentially the same thing, but the latter provides an impressive metric by which to gauge your contribution. By the same token, you may have helped a hospital reduce its operating expenses, or you can tack on the fact that they fell by 20%, no small feat in an environment where costs are growing.

PUBLISH OR PERISH. In certain corners of the healthcare field, especially research, you must demonstrate consistent success in getting your research findings published. It will be difficult to maintain one’s standing in the field if you don’t show that you’re working on relevant research issues, and if your findings are not published. Of course the research itself is what counts, and the scientific process cannot be hijacked by editorial deadlines. But as long as you focus on expressing the progress you make throughout your career, you’ll find favor in the eyes of the publishing gods.

ARE YOU MANAGEMENT MATERIAL? Whether managing teams of people or overseeing compliance issues with federal agencies, be sure you don’t forget to highlight your management skills on the resume or CV. Every organization wants to know that their new hires either have leadership experience or the potential for it, so the more specific you are about how many people you’ve managed, regulatory relationships successfully secured, or projects you’ve overseen to completion, the better positioned you will be to demonstrate that you are bringing these vital skills to the table.

The healthcare marketplace is definitely getting more competitive, but if you apply some of these key ingredients to your resume then you’ll be setting yourself apart from those who haven’t. And in this professional landscape, distinction is victory.

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