Practical advice for practical nurses, nursing assistants, phlebotomists and other job seekers
If you are looking for a practical nursing job, a nursing assistant job, or another area in the field of healthcare, you want your resume to show the employer that you have the clinical skills that are needed on the job.
Your resume is your chance to market yourself. Think of it as your sales brochure, and be sure to highlight all of your best selling points!
These step-by-step instructions have been developed for new job seekers, who are just finishing their healthcare training programs, as well as more experienced job seekers who are looking for a new job.
Step 1: Decide on your resume’s design (And make a plain version too).
- Resume designs: Most Word programs have several resume templates that you can use to design your resume. Be sure it looks professional and dignified. There are also many free resume templates available online.
- Pick an attractive, professional design. Avoid designs that are too bold or colorful.
- Don’t use a bunch of different fonts. Just choose one font and stick with it. Choose a commonly used font such as Calibri, Helvetica, or Garamond.
- Do not use a designed resume if you are submitting your resume online. A computer may not be able to scan it correctly.
- Computer-friendly resumes: Because so many job applications are done online, you should also have a version of your resume that a computer can read. It should just be a plain Word file with no special formatting or design elements.
- Choose one font and stick with it, such as Calibri, Helvetica, or Garamond.
- Avoid horizontal lines, bullets, centering, columns, and other formatting. A computer may not scan these correctly. You can use these simple symbols to separate the sections of your resume: equal signs (=), tildes (~), hyphens (-), and boldface.
- Do not save this resume as a PDF. Keep it as a Word file.
Step 2: Type in your contact information at the top.
- What info goes at the top? Your first and last name, your full mailing address, your landline and cell phone numbers in 10-digit format, your email address, and your LinkedIn address (a shortened address is best).
- Listen to your current voicemail greeting. It needs to sound professional. If it doesn’t, simply re-record it, in case a hiring manager needs to leave you a message.
- Look at your email address. It needs to be professional. If it’s clever, cute, or funny to your friends, it probably isn’t professional enough. Get a new email address. Keep it simple, with your first and last name in it. Avoid numbers that may give away your age or birthdate.
Step 3: Create a short, direct objective statement.
- Objective statements are meant to clarify your immediate career goal and also to show what benefit you bring to the employer.
- For example: “I would like to work as a Nursing Assistant in a long-term care facility, where I can use my clinical skills to treat clients with care and compassion.”
Step 4: Create a summary statement (optional).
- Not all resumes need a summary statement. If you have a long career with many accomplishments, a summary statement can bring your career into focus for the hiring manager. People who are new to the field may not need to include this.
- These statements are often written as a phrase, rather than a complete sentence. For example: “A Medical Coding expert with over 15 years of experience in hospital coding, with additional training in electronic health records, HIPAA, ICD-10, and CPT-4.”
Step 5: New to the field? Develop a skills-based resume.
- For people who are just finishing their healthcare training programs, you may wonder, “How am I supposed to list my job experience if I don’t have any?” One option is to write a skills-based resume. This highlights your job skills rather than your past work experience.
- Create a list of your clinical skills, office skills, patient procedures, and “people” skills that you studied in your career program.
- Also include any exams or certifications you may have passed, such as First Aid or CPR.
- Think about the keywords: A computer will probably be scanning your resume, so try to use the same terminology that the job listing uses. If the job for a Practical Nurse says: “Admission, discharge and transfer of residents,” you should be sure to use those same words in your resume. A computer might not catch it if you write something similar like “experienced in admitting patients.”
Step 6: Write up your past employment experience using powerful words.
- To get started on this step, pull together the basic information about your past jobs: name of the company, your job title, and when you worked there. Put the most current job first, or you may want to put the most relevant job first, if your current job is in a different field.
- Think about what you did in your jobs, and how it met the employer’s goals. Write 1 to 3 bullet points about what you accomplished for the company. Use powerful verbs, and use numbers and quantities to describe what you did.
- What if your previous job was not in the healthcare field? You can still highlight your strengths as an employee. Here’s an example for someone whose previous job was at Walmart:
- What not to say: “Checked out customers.”
- A stronger way to say it: “Handled approximately 200 customer interactions per day, maintaining a friendly and helpful attitude. Demonstrated a professional demeanor in speaking with customers who had complaints. Participated in annual company-wide service project. Earned positive reviews in my performance evaluations.”
- Don’t forget your internship! If you are new to the job field, and had an internship as a part of your career training, you can include this as true work experience. Just be sure to make it clear that it was an unpaid short-term placement. Include your internship job title, where you worked, and what you did in the position.
Step 7: Include your education and career training.
- For jobs in the field of allied health and healthcare, employers want to know where you received your clinical training. Put this information at the top of your education sections, because it is the most relevant to the job.
- Include the name of the school, the city in which it is located, the name of your training program, and when you completed it.
- If you received any awards or honors, or maintained a high GPA while in school, include that on your resume too. Employers will want to know if you were a good student.
Step 8: Make a list of references.
- References are people who know you professionally, and can vouch for your strong qualities as an employee. Most potential employees will want to call two or three of your references before offering you job.
- Think about whom you know, and ask 3-5 people to be your references. These should not be your friends or family members. They should be people who know your professional skills, for instance, a teacher, Career Services adviser, past job supervisor, or former co-worker.
- Keep an up-to-date list in Word. Be sure you have their full names, current job titles, and correct contact information (phone numbers and email).
- Usually you do not submit this list when you first apply for the job, unless the employer specifically requests it. Most often, the list is requested during or after the interview process.
Step 9: Put on the final touches.
- How long is your resume? It should be just one page. If it’s too long, make sure to edit it down. You can play with the margins and font size a little bit, but make sure it’s not too crowded. A good rule of thumb is: don’t go below an 11-point font size or .7-inch margins.
- Ask for a second set of eyes. Find a trusted friend or co-worker, and ask them to review your resume for any mistakes you might have made.
- Ask a career-readiness expert. If you attend a career training school, go to the Career Services department and ask one of the advisers to help you tune up your resume. They are there to help!
Step 10: Put your profile online with LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Most employers will search you online before asking you for an interview, and it helps to have a strong LinkedIn profile that shows you are serious about your career.
- To make a profile, you can simply copy parts of your resume into your LinkedIn profile. Then you can follow LinkedIn’s prompts to create more content about your professional skills and goals. Try these tips for creating a LinkedIn profile.
Thank you for reading our tips, and best of luck to you on your job search and your career journey!
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, FL provides career readiness advice and other healthcare-related tips through our weekly blog. Our school is proud to train students for careers in the field of healthcare. We offer career and job training programs for Medical Billing & Coding, Practical Nursing, Home Health Aide, Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, and Phlebotomy/EKG. To learn more, contact us through our simple online form.