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How to Optimize Your Health Care Resume

Health care professionals need to be on top of technology when it comes to looking for a job in a health care career. In today's job market that means, ensuring that your resume is optimized for applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Many health care employers and organizations have a software application system specifically designed to read resumes for job openings.

The purpose of ATS

The ATS allows recruiters to easily and efficiently sort through the hundreds of resumes medical facilities and hospitals receive when positions for dental assistants and other healthcare professionals are open.

In addition to allowing recruiters to quickly sort through resumes, ATS helps recruiters keep track of incoming resumes through the application and interview process.

Its software stores the data in resumes and gives the recruiter the ability to search through the resumes according to skill set, education, experience, and certifications.

An intelligent system that ranks resumes based on searched criteria, think of it as a search engine like Google. Specifically, the software is searching for certain keywords that relate to your experience and credentials that would fit quality health care professionals.

If you don't have the right keywords, your resume just might be bypassed even if you're a perfect fit for the job. And not just the ones that are included in the job description and posting, think outside the box too!

Tailoring cover letters and resumes for ATS

Since it's the ATS that first determines if you're a good candidate for the position, it's smart to optimize your resume so the ATS can accurately identify you as a good candidate. Here are some guidelines on how to optimize your resume for an ATS:

Don't send your resume in a GIF, TIFF or JPEG file and don't send it as a zip file. Instead, create and send your resume in an MS Word document.

Avoid using headers, footers, fancy fonts, charts, graphs, and special spacing.

Keep the layout and other details very simple. When listing your work history, list each employer from current to last first. List each in this fashion:

  • Name of employer
  • Job title
  • Start and end dates
  • Description of accomplishments on the job

How to Present Achievements

We certainly want all our Concorde graduates to proudly list their achievements and accomplishments from the work completed during their programs, whether in class or at an externship or clinical site.

But there are some common-sense rules to follow when listing accomplishments on a resume that will more effectively make your qualities and talents in health care careers shine and stand out from a pool of job applicants.

Marcus Alexander, BSM, Graduate Employment Specialist at Concorde's campus in Memphis, Tenn., said employers in health care careers look for accomplishments at previous places of employment as it's a good indicator of future job performance.

"Doing things beyond your normal job duties or going above and beyond gets the results of awards and certificates," Alexander said.

However, Alexander cautions, knowing how to correctly determine what is an accomplishment is important. And, knowing where to add this information to a resume can be vital as well.
"You want to seem positive, but not arrogant or proud," she said. "Keep your information straight and to the point."

Types of Awards to Mention and How to Mention Them

Give a brief description of what the award is, said Dan Garule, Senior Graduate Employment Specialist at Concorde's Kansas City, Mo. campus.

"For example, our company (Concorde) has the Torch award. If you were not familiar with Concorde, you would not know exactly what that represents."

If you have several different accolades, Garule suggests creating a section within the resume to list them in chronological order along with the organization that awarded them.

"Be sure to include any community service awards as well," he said. "Employers often see that as a sign you're invested in the community."

One Area to Be Cautious

If you have an award that is tied to a particular religion, you might want to make sure it relates to your resume and the job you are trying to obtain, Garule said.

"Religion is one of those things that is a very personal thing," he said. "It should not matter, but you don't want to give the potential employer any reason not to keep your resume at the top of the stack."

Final Touches

When writing up your resume, add keywords and phrases from the actual job posting in your resume that is relevant to your educational and work history.

This is critical, as your resume will be ranked by the ATS by how well it matches the words used in the job listing. Add these keywords in a natural manner when you are describing your experience and job accomplishments. And don't copy and paste your resume; be sure to upload it into the field for the ATS.

Being mindful of ATS and tailoring your healthcare resume the right way will greatly enhance your chances of the ATS poising you as a good candidate for the job position.