“The medical field.” It’s only three words long, but the phrase encompasses hundreds of different occupations and a rapidly growing employment sector of the American economy. With such a vast array of specialized positions available in medicine, job seekers must ask and answer the following question: What should go on professional medical resumes?

Start with this neatly bisected list of eight tips to craft your answer.

Exam room one: helpful hints for medical professionals.

1. Emphasize your education. Most prospective employers want to see your skills and work history on a resume well before any educational details. Not so in the medical field! Many positions within medicine require extremely specific degrees and certifications. The school you went to can also be much more important in medicine than it is in other fields. Schools develop reputations for being competitive or demanding, or for excellence in certain specialties. Place the Education section near the top of your medical resume and give hiring managers an immediate sense of your schooling.

2. Don’t skimp on skills. Whether you’re an osteopath or an optometrist, your new job in medicine is going to draw on a highly specialized skill set. Honed skills are important in any occupation—but because the medical field involves making decisions that directly affect human lives, demonstrating your capabilities takes on greater importance. Take a look at these two sample resumes, for a Pharmacist and Certified Medical Assistant, from Monster. Both have prominent skill sections, and include technical as well as patient-focused abilities. Soft skills are especially important for patient-facing roles.

3. Perfect the personal statement. A personal statement is an incredibly important part of applying to schools in the field of medicine. Prospective nurses, physicians, mental health counselors, and even pharmacists must include one with their AMCAS application. However, it’s also a great tool for your healthcare resume, serving the same function as a career summary in other professional sectors.

The Princeton Review has an excellent set of tips on writing personal statements, including that “good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language.” A personal statement is your chance to explain why you want a career in medicine, and to highlight your accomplishments so far. Use it to captivate the reader’s attention and make yourself stand out.

4. Take time to tailor. At Jobscan we urge applicants to tailor resumes in all sectors of work, and experts on medical resume writing agree. “Health care human resources staffers and recruiters know the typical duties for nurses, orderlies, and medical technicians. So, if you’re applying for a job that requires certain skills or experiences, it won’t do any good to provide a summary of routine duties,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Your resume should instead convey your individual experiences and accomplishments—and tie those back to the specific job you are seeking. Tailoring your resume also gives the employer a sense of how well you follow procedures—which is key to any medical career.

Once you have your first medical resume draft done, run it through Jobscan’s resume optimization tool and make sure it’s tailored to perfection! Thanks to the personalized results you’ll get from Jobscan’s resume analysis, you can effectively present yourself as a match for your desired position.

Exam room two: words of wisdom from medical professionals.

These insights come directly from people in various stages and specialties of the medical profession.

5. “Process improvement/quality improvement projects are popular now. This is basically looking at systems of care and finding small changes that can be implemented. You measure how effective you were at it before the change and how effective the process is after, and hopefully it got better. That would relate to a job application in that you could say for an ‘X’ size clinic, we were able to see ‘N’ more patients, or work ‘Y’ more efficiently/effectively. Medical folks love data…hard numbers to show what you can bring to the organization.” —A physician in the Army, practicing family medicine

6. “I made sure to emphasize my direct interactions with patients [in my resume]. Practitioners and admin staff alike are usually pretty willing to train new hires in highly specific and technical procedures. It’s easier to do that than, say, try to teach someone how to have a proper bedside manner.” —Second-year medical student

7. “When I hire someone, I am usually looking for an individual with a personality that will connect with our patient population and stakeholders. Most people have a lot of the same skill set these days. If a resume could convey something about how well the author connects with patients, clinic staff, and medical providers, the prospective employer might take notice.” —Program staff member at Rehabilitation Institute of Washington

8. “I used to work with students who were applying to residency training programs after finishing medical school—and that is a lot like a resume. Keywords [and keyword phrases] often included:

A. ‘History of hard work’ in medical school
B. ‘Motivated by compassion for persons’ to enter healthcare
C. ‘Have learned the importance of communication (I listen to my patients)’
D. ‘This is a job that I find interesting’
E. ‘I enjoy being a team player’—as healthcare is usually carried out by a team these days.” —Medical ethics expert at the University of Washington

Take more than two of these tips, and I bet prospective employers will call you in the morning!

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Steph Hartford

Steph writes for work AND for fun.

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