So you’re looking for a new job in the health care field. Whether you are job hunting after relocating or trying to figure out how to get your career started, having a strong resume is crucial to getting your foot in the door.
The field of health care encompasses a wide range of jobs, but much more of it overlaps between the various professions than you might think. The entrance to all of them shares one requirement, and that’s knowing how to make a resume. At the beginning of your job search, that’s the primary means of communication you have with a potential employer.
Keep reading for a rundown of the skills, certifications, and experience employers tend to look for on health care resumes.
When crafting your resume, you’ll need to show employers that you have a balanced skill set. Competence in any profession relies on a combination of soft and hard skills, and both are important for success in the health care industry.
Hard skills are the job-specific skills you’ve gained through education, experience, or hands-on training. As a health care professional, you have many hard skills to highlight and employers will be scanning your resume for them.
Here are some of the most common hard skills needed in the health care industry:
- Medical record management
- Knowledge of HIPAA
- Basic patient care
- Monitoring vital signs
- Office administration
- Basic medical procedures (drawing blood, administering vaccines, etc.)
Any hard skills that don’t make it into your resume’s work experience section, or that you want to feature prominently on your resume, can be listed in your skills section.
Here’s an example of a surgical tech resume skills section:
- Surgery preparation
- Sterilizing surgical instruments
- Emergency care
- Ambulatory EHR
- Diagnostic procedures
- Work well under pressure
Including position-relevant hard skills on your resume lets employers know that you have the experience they’re looking for in a candidate.
Soft skills are the characteristics that influence both how you work and connect with others. They’re crucial for work in the health care industry, where there are a lot of moving parts and you must be able to interact with colleagues across a range of specialties as well as patients who need your support. Here are the most important soft skills for your health care resume:
Strong communication skills are important in both your patient-doctor dynamics and among your peers.
You must be able to communicate complex medical information to patients so that they can understand their diagnosis and treatment options.
You also need to be able to communicate clearly with your colleagues to ensure that everyone has the relevant and accurate information needed to perform patient care and treatment.
Showing employers your communication skills will reassure them that you’ll make a valuable part of the team.
When someone is visiting the doctor, their stress levels are elevated. It’s likely they’ve been struggling with physical discomfort and anxiety about finding care, and there’s always a chance that they’ll receive bad news.
Healthcare professionals that relate to patients with empathy will reassure patients and build trust. Employers want to know that you can treat patients with care and empathy, so it’s important to demonstrate this skill on your resume..
Attention to detail
A single mistake can have much more severe consequences in the medical field than in most other professions. Whether you’re looking through medical histories, making diagnoses, writing prescriptions, or measuring dosages, attention to detail is critical.
If employers can see that you’re detail-oriented and thorough, they’ll trust you more to work independently and with less oversight.
How to demonstrate soft skills on your resume
It’s okay to list a few soft skills in your skills section, but it’s even better to include them in your work experience section. Anyone can claim to possess these qualities, but to make your resume truly compelling, you need to provide concrete examples of times you showed them.
Here’s an example of how to demonstrate organizational skills on a nurse practitioner resume:
Regent Home Physicians
Aug 2019 – Present
- Spearheaded implementation of a new EMR system to streamline organization of medical records, increasing staff efficiency by 20% and reducing errors to 0
Rather than explicitly stating that they are organized, the candidate spotlights a time they took initiative to improve an organizational system. Using an example like this will convince employers that you have the soft skills you need to succeed in a health care position.
Employers want to know that you have experience relevant to the position you’re applying for. To make your health care resume as strong as possible, it’s important to tailor it to the job.
To tailor your resume to a specific position, go through the job listing to identify the keywords it includes. Those keywords are the particular skills, credentials, qualifications, or types of experience that employers are looking for.
Targeting the keywords from the job ad on your resume will give you the best chance of securing an interview.
For example, if you’re looking for a job as a pharmacist, some keywords from a job listing might be:
- State pharmacy license
- Doctor of pharmacy
- Clinical pharmacology knowledge
- Computer skills
- Managed care residency
Making sure to include these keywords on a resume where applicable will help get you past initial resume screening and hopefully into an interview where you can discuss your experience in person.
If you’re struggling to write targeted bullet points for your work experience section, consider using a resume builder that can help generate industry-specific points for you.
The education section of a health care resume is particularly important, as there are more educational requirements than in other industries. Employers want to see that you have the academic foundation you need to be a qualified and knowledgeable professional.
Here’s how to format your education section:
- List the name of your degree
- List the institution you received your degree from
- Include your graduation date
- Include your GPA (if above a 3.5)
- Include any honors you received, such as Cum Laude or above
Here’s an example:
East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City
B.S. in Neuroscience
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Honors: Summa Cum Laude
If you don’t have a lot of professional experience, you can expand your education section to include relevant coursework. That doesn’t mean you should list every medical class you ever attended. Just choose the ones that are relevant to the position you’re applying for and include them as a bulleted list under your degree.
Different professions in the health care industry will have specific credential requirements, so be sure to pay attention to what credentials you need for your target job and list them clearly on your resume.
Make sure to include any of the following that apply:
- A medical degree, such as M.D. or Ph.D.
- A certificate of completion for any required programs. For instance, any nursing job will require you to go through a registered nursing (RN) program.
- A satisfactory score on the qualifying exam of your specialty.
- A fixed amount of training time. Find out how many hours of practice you will need to complete in the field of your interest.
- CPR Certification.
Remember that licensing and certifications need to be kept up-to-date. Most health care professionals must renew their licenses to practice every five years. Employers need to know that you have the legally required credentials for the position, so make sure they’re clearly listed.