First impressions are important. And for most people seeking a new job or applying for a graduate program, the initial introduction comes in the form of a resume.
If you’re a health care executive – or a mid-level career professional interested in becoming one – you need to make that first impression count.
Make the wrong impression and you may find yourself struggling to climb out of a hole from Day One – or, worse yet, never have the opportunity to recover with a better second impression.
How to Make a Resume for Health Care
Here are six tips on how to create a health care resume that maximizes your qualities and positions you as a candidate worthy of serious consideration for career advancement or an advanced health care degree.
1. Lead Strong
If your resume serves as your formal introduction, the top of the first page is the opening handshake. As with the first few pages of a novel or screenplay, you need to grab the reader and hook them immediately.
Consider Human Resources
Design and write your resume to give the reader, typically a human resource employee, the information they need – and the information you want them to know – quickly and clearly.
Highlight your most impressive capabilities, key professional experiences and top accomplishments upfront. Many health professionals choose to include an opening section titled “Areas of Expertise” or something similar on their healthcare resume.
Give yourself a proper title to distinguish yourself at a glance, such as “Senior Director, R&D and Product Development” or “Business Development and Strategic Marketing Executive”.
You also should include descriptive phrases to summarize your profile and reflect your personality. We cover descriptive phrases in more detail in tip number 5.
2. Format your Resume
1. Resume Templates and Resume Examples
Templates and sample resumes are good places to get started and to generate ideas. However, sample CVs will only get you so far.
To distinguish your application from the rest, find ways to improve upon the design and format of a resume template. Try to express your strengths through the design.
2. Resume Writing
If it’s for a job opportunity, carefully review the description of the position, the responsibilities and the qualifications required. Make sure your resume reflects what the health provider is seeking in their own terms.
3. Professional Resume
When you're goal is to transition from a mid-level position to the senior level or even the C-Suite, you will be evaluated first and foremost by your experience and aptitude as it relates to the particular opportunity.
Where possible, demonstrate the value of your role in a specific project, note key, strategic decisions you influenced, and highlight your impact when describing your professional work experience and performance outcomes on your resume.
4. Build Resume Experience
Follow the “functional” portion of your resume with a chronological listing of your work experience.
All things being equal, the more recent roles and achievements are considered most applicable and noteworthy – and should therefore be allotted a little more space.
5. How to format your resume?
We recommend you begin each segment of your executive health care resume work history with a description of your “responsibilities,” followed by several bullet points highlighting your contributions.
3. Choose the best resume length
How long should your resume be?Unless there’s a compelling reason, make your CV two pages.
Three pages is acceptable if you feel that the details of your experience needed to tell your best story can’t fit on two pages.
Condensing your resume to one page would likely require you to omit notable details or achievements that would differentiate you from other candidates.
Pro Tip: Be concise but don't omit pertinent information. When reviewing your resume, delete superfluous information and only keep details that are relevant to the job description or graduate program your applying to.
4. Quantify your Accomplishments
Health care, in some ways, is a numbers game:
- How might we reduce the cost of delivering quality care?
- How might we reduce the readmission rate?
- How might we reduce pharmacy expenses?
If you're existing job role is on the numbers side of health care (accounting, billing, management, human resources) then using numbers to quantifying your accomplishments will present a strong case to the person reviewing your resume.
If quantifying your impact is challenging, or you work directly with patients, clearly describe what you accomplished, the outcomes you achieved, and tangible benefits.
5. Write your resume
We can all agree that a candidate's professional experience is the most important factor for determining the success of an application.
Experience aside, how you write a resume, specifically the words you choose to convey why you're qualified, is a major contributing factor.
Here are three quick tips to keep top of mind when writing a resume for health care.
1. Use action verbs
Write descriptive resume phrases beneath your current or past work experience, and begin sentences with action verbs to make your resume come alive.
2. Do not repeat yourself
Take care not to repeat any words too often or else they’ll lose their impact.
However, this doesn't mean any synonym will work.
If you're having a difficult time finding descriptive, action-oriented words, consider other projects you contributed to, roles you held, or decisions you fought for.
3. Match tenses
When you're describing your role, responsibilities, and contributions from your current job, write in the present tense (care, manage, analyze).
When you're tailoring previous work experiences on your resume to reflect the responsibilities of the opportunity you're currently applying for, write in the past tense (cared, managed, analyzed).
Descriptive Resume Phrases
Descriptive, action-oriented verbs give depth to your experiences. Below is a short list of verbs that'll elevate your resume writing.
- enrich, delegate, spearhead, transform
- launched, lead, initiated, implemented, expanded
- adopted, pioneered, delivered, generated, produced
- simplified, streamlined, optimized, improved, reduced
6. Proofread before submitting
Potential employers and master's programs are looking for well-written candidates. Have too many grammatical mistakes on your application and it will significantly dampen your chances of being accepted.
Here are four time-tested proofreading tips:
- Make sure the fonts and formatting are consistent
- Check for spelling and grammar errors
- Read your resume aloud
- Ask colleagues, family members, or friends to proofread your resume
A powerful, well-crafted, professional resume will help you stand out among the other candidates and get you through to the next round of consideration.
How to Write a Resume like a Health Care Executive
Download our guide to tailoring your resume for an executive career in the health care industry.