​For Doctors and Nurses: The Right and Wrong of Building a Medical Resume

Healthcare jobs offer doctors and nurses, and other medical professionals a chance to build a career that helps people live long, healthy lives, and the pay is not too shabby, either. However, as with any sector, you’ll likely face stiff competition as a potential healthcare worker. With this in mind, you’ll need to impress HR managers and medical program directors with an impactful medical resume if you want to land a job at the healthcare facility of your choice. Get to know the right and wrong ways of building a resume that dazzles and boosts your chance of being called in for an interview.

Right: Participation in research and volunteer work

Get involved with laboratory research and clinical work as often as you can before you apply for a job. Your willingness to participate in these activities tells recruiters that you are dedicated to the medical profession. You gain plenty of useful experience when you engage in these opportunities, which can give you a leg up on the competition. Be sure to mention the supervising professor, the lab or company, brief information about the project, and key results for easy reference. If you’re still in school and too busy with your studies, you can join research or volunteer groups in between semesters when school is out. Check with your school faculty for opportunities.

Wrong: The inclusion of irrelevant or outdated personal information

Your application doesn’t have to be a comprehensive compendium of your life--in fact, it would be a mistake to do so. When it comes to resume building, less is definitely more, so make yours easy to read. Pick the information you put on your resume wisely, and keep them current and relevant to the medical position you are applying for. Don’t include your participation in studies that have been refuted or proven wrong by another.

Right: Easy-to-understand language

Keep your writing clear, concise, and readable for HR managers who have to review hundreds of applications at a given time. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use medical terms as long as you don’t get too technical--not all hospital HR personnel have medical backgrounds. Avoid hyperbolic words and loaded expressions that imply self-congratulations, which can be a huge turn-off. Provide the details of what you want to achieve in the job, and be accommodating. If you are only available at certain hours of the day, don’t be afraid to say so. It tells recruiters that you don’t want to waste their time.

Wrong: The information is too general

It’s not unusual for medical job applicants to send multiple applications out to different hospitals and healthcare facilities simultaneously. As such, their resume often takes the one-size-fits-all approach. Though it makes sense at first glance (especially if you’re looking to get hired fast), ultimately, all this does is make your resume appear like everyone else’s, not to mention it also makes you look lazy. Either way, you won’t be seen as a standout candidate. Know who and what you’re applying for, and tailor the information on your resume accordingly.

Right: Strengths are highlighted properly

You need to place a strong emphasis on both your academic and extra-curricular achievements. If you achieved high scores in medical-related classes, mention them. Any academic award is also worth including, as recruiters will want to see that you are driven to excel. As for your extracurricular activities, these do not necessarily have to be med school-related. Extra-curriculars reveal your values and character, for instance, if you were the captain of a college sports team, that shows leadership, which can be something that the job calls for without it being spelled out.

Wrong: You got too creative

Many believe that gimmicks are the easiest way to get hired, but these will never escape the eye of an expert recruiter. Most likely, the HR director reading your resume has seen hundreds if not thousands of resumes, so they can easily spot whether an applicant is trying to fool them or not. A few of the most common resume tricks include:

  • Using a fancy design to catch the hiring manager’s eye
  • Leaving certain jobs out of the work history to show you’re not a job hopper
  • Peppering the resume with keywords to get picked up by resume-screening software

True, these tactics may get you through the door, but if your resume doesn’t hold anything substantial, they won’t keep you in the room. Savvy hiring managers can easily see through such trickery, so stop playing around with your resume and stick to what works: honesty and straightforward communication.

Right: Prepare for potential red flags

Resumes are rarely perfect. Even the best ones will have some red flags. The problem is not the red flags themselves, but how you respond to inquiries about them. If it took you more years to complete your medical degree instead of the usual, or if your work experience has lengthy gaps, be ready to explain why. Make sure your reason is a truthful and acceptable one.

Wrong: Focusing too much on yourself

On the surface, your resume may appear like it’s all about you--after all, it’s your personal information that it contains. And this is what many resumes get wrong. All too often, resumes focus primarily on the applicant, when the focus should instead be on the employer. The common thread that binds the mistakes listed here is that your resume needs to deliver one key message: that you have the exact qualifications that the recruiter is looking for. Your accomplishments, strengths, any training that you have completed, they need to say that you have the skills, ethics, and character to be effective at the job position that needs to be filled.

A strong medical resume should be more than a summary of your education and experience--it needs to show how and why you’re the perfect candidate for the job. As you develop your doctor or nurse resume, get ahead of your competition with these guidelines on the right and wrong approaches to take.

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  • 7 seconds: this is how long your resume has either to impress or be ignored by the recruiter 
  • 300+: average number of applications one corporate job opening posted online receives 
  • 3%: number of sent resumes that result in interviews 

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