Each one of us struggles with writing a resume that accurately describes our background, skills education, and accomplishments. In healthcare information technology, we have the added complication of unique keywords and acronyms that set us apart from other industries. Not every detail is needed, but you need to create interest. There are many myths about the correct way to write a resume, so let me explain what you need to avoid when revising your current resume.
1. Only one page
Not sure how the “one page” resume recommendation started but, as an executive in healthcare IT, you know that your work experience and accomplishments need several pages to describe. Don’t be afraid to use four, five or six pages to adequately describe your career.
2. Mixed up format
Anytime I see a resume with multiple font styles, bullet styles, creative lines and bars, and bolding here and there, it makes me cringe. Your resume needs to be visually attractive and ultra-conservative. Use a reverse chronological instead of a functional layout. Be sure to leave some white space around your blocks of data to give your reader some eye rest. When picking a font style, Calibri 12 seems to be a good clean style as well as Arial — and use just one font style throughout the document.
Not many of us are blessed with perfect writing and editing skills. It is a good idea to reread your document out loud, use MS Word spelling and grammar check as needed, and have several trusted people read and edit your resume. If you misspell “EHR,” “HIMSS,” or “HIPAA” expect to lose your HIT credibility.
4. Opinions, first person
We would all like to say we walked into an awful mess at a company and made it so much better. Use positive language and state facts while avoiding critical judgments and opinions. Your voice in the resume is third person, not first person, so don’t use “I,” “me,” or “myself” in your resume.
5. Pictures, decorative graphics
Photos, logos, or other unusual graphics are mistakes that you should stay away from when composing your resume. A prospective employer at a healthcare system is looking for key accomplishments and applicable experience. The graphics are too distracting and your photo is suitable for your LinkedIn profile, not your resume.
6. Holes in history
If you have gaps in your resume — when you left work to go back to school, care for family members or other reasons for a break in your career — show your correct work years, but be honest at the interview about the gaps. Don’t chop off the first 10 years of your work history — it is important to include all your experiences, even if you think they are not relevant or you are worried about showing your age. You may want to have a summary paragraph at the end mentioning in a brief overview early experiences.
Never include your business references on your resume; they should be on a separate document and available upon request.
Recent college graduates are the only group that need “objective” on a resume. Once you have acquired a successful work track record, the use of a career or professional summary of about 75 words is the best way to describe your background.
9. Lack of HIT keywords
Since we are in a unique industry, use it to your advantage and name HIT vendor and products implemented and pepper your resume with current terminology. Recruiters spend 30 to 45 seconds scanning your resume, so the way to stand out is to include the top keywords that will get you noticed. Have you successfully implemented an EMR/CPOE product? Have you developed strong relationships with physicians and clinicians? Do you chair important committees? What HIT associations do you belong to?
10. Personal data
There is no reason to include personal data on your business resume.
Remember that the true function of a resume is to present a persuasive business message — to stimulate a prospective employer to invite you for an interview. Ask for advice, but do not delegate out the writing of your resume to a resume service, it will look hokey and not do you justice. Do your best to write an effective resume yourself and don’t forget to update it frequently. Good luck!