This article was written by Kari Cline, O.D., and has been vetted by the CovalentCareers team for inclusion in our resource library.

Introduction

Most of us probably view polishing up the old healthcare resume as somewhat of a chore. 

We worked so hard on it the last time and got everything just so. But when it comes time for a change in our professional lives, whether it is graduating with a new degree, needing a job change, or switching professional careers altogether, the tweaking of that healthcare resume has to be done. 

The Healthcare Resume

Now, with that being said, depending on the job and setting you are interested in, you may need to alter your resume accordingly. By “alter” I absolutely do not mean “embellish”. 

This article will walk you through how to tailor your resume to your reader (the hiring manager or future healthcare employer).

Why tailor the healthcare resume to the job?

Let’s face it….all employers want their employees to be as ready-made as they can be. 

They all expect there will be some training time, but when something at the top of the resume attracts their attention that is pertinent to their needs, they will be much more likely to take a second look. 

I am going to demonstrate by attaching three different resumes for three fictional job postings. The candidate is the same, and all experience is the same, but you will see how differently the candidate may be portrayed just by the resume layout.  

  • The areas in red in each example resume represent areas that I directly tweaked for each job. I do not recommend that you use red in your final resume. It is there to make it easier for you to observe the differences between the examples. 

You can also see how some experience a candidate may have may not be pertinent for one type of job posting but highly desirable for another.  

Yes, you do want to appear well rounded, but those additional skills can be mentioned in an interview. Let’s get that interview first!

I am an optometrist, so I will use that field as an example.   

We’ll explore three different scenarios and how a different presentation of the resume can highlight the strengths the individual has pertinent to that role. I will highlight in red the sections that are especially pertinent to that job description, and you can compare the varying presentation styles.

Tailoring your healthcare resume to an educational or non-clinical role

If you are applying to an educational institution, you may want to highlight the fact that you worked as a teacher’s assistant while in optometry school. While this particular position you held may not be as pertinent to a private practice, those at a teaching institution would appreciate the fact that you have been acquainted with the inner workings of an educational setting.  

In a non-clinical or administrative role, it would be more pertinent to highlight your experience in EMR implementation, rather than your clinical skills. Anyone on the administrative side of this task understands it is no small feat!

You will notice that in the resume listed with Job 1, the candidate was able to emphasize their significant experience in an educational institution. You will subsequently see that this experience is mentioned in the other two resumes as well, but the primary focus of those are the candidate’s other strengths and expertise.  

In fact, in initially viewing those resumes, educational experience may not appear to be a large focus of that candidate’s experience, but in this resume it is highly emphasized.  Also, because this job description includes some clinical management, I also highlighted the candidate’s administrative experience.

  • Job 1: Clinical Faculty
  • Description: University of California Berkeley College of Optometry seeking candidate for clinical faculty. Candidate would be head of the Ocular Disease department.  Candidate would oversee UC Berkeley’s onsite ocular disease clinic, as well as the Ocular Disease I and Ocular Disease II courses for 3rd year students. 
  • Here's an example of how your resume would work best.

Tailoring your healthcare resume to a private practice

Next, let’s look at how this same candidate could present themselves to a private practice.  

While they may still want to list the teaching assistant role on the resume, as it provided valuable experience, they may choose to highlight a weekend role as an optometric technician or optician in a local optometry clinic. They may also want to emphasize how they developed a more efficient way for the clinic to order and dispense contact lenses. 

With Job 2, which is a private practice seeking a pediatric optometrist,  you can see how I emphasized the pediatric experience the candidate has. Yes, much of that pediatric experience is based on contact lenses, but highlighting the fact that the candidate has spent a lot of time with that population would be more likely to put the employer that is looking for a pediatric optometrist at ease. 

Also, you can see how this job posting allows the candidate to highlight their time at  “ABC Optometry,” which is a pediatric clinic. It is also mentioned in the Job 1 and Job 3 resumes, but not as much detail was given regarding the position, as it is not as pertinent to those job needs. 

  • Job 2: Private Pediatric Optometry Practice
  • Description: Large group practice seeking optometrist in our pediatric department. Candidate will perform pediatric routine exams, co-manage surgical pediatric patients with our staff ophthalmologists, and work closely with our vision therapy department.
  • Here's an example of how your resume would work best.

Tailoring your healthcare resume to a hospital/large group

In a setting such as a large group practice or hospital setting, you may want to focus on the great relationships you developed with local ophthalmologists during your time of observation in various clinics.  Perhaps you want to emphasize how you are able to collaborate well with other specialities to manage patient care.  Remember that while clinical experience is very valuable, there are many other factors that make up a clinic culture, and conveying that you understand what that entails will be appreciated. 

You can see how in Job 3, I highlighted all of the contact lens experience the candidate has.  This is the primary need for this job, and this candidate appears qualified for the job. This experience was in the other resumes, but it really shines through when presented this way. As the job also requires clinic management, I also highlighted some of the administrative roles the candidate has held.

  • Job 3: Large Group Practice
  • Description: Large Group Practice with heavy emphasis in specialty/medical contact lens fitting seeking a candidate with experience in this field. Candidate will also perform routine exams, and help with clinic management.
  • Here's an example of how your resume would work best.

What I have presented here are only three examples of job descriptions. Clearly, there are so many more scenarios that are feasible. Another resume could be done for corporate optometry, refractive surgery co-management, geriatric optometry, glaucoma co-management, and the list goes on. 

I hope this is helpful as a guideline for those looking to find that first job out of school, those looking for a change professionally, or even those that just want to keep their resume current. 

On that note, if you pull up your resume, and you see things that are ten years old or more, you may want to look at replacing it with something new. Within optometry, even if you’ve been in private practice for ten years, there are so many things a practicing O.D. does on a day to day basis that are not typically considered part of our profession. Maybe you helped redesign the office to add another exam lane, or perhaps you integrated all equipment to transfer data to make exams more efficient. You may have held staff meetings weekly, holding each member responsible for tracking and presenting data, or maybe you went to the local elementary schools to give a talk about eye safety. This can be applied to any candidate or profession, not just optometry.  There are so many things we do that are valuable that may not be in our typical job description, but don’t sell yourself short! You never know when something you’d least expect will click with someone looking for an associate.  

So dust off, polish up, tweak, and improve that resume!  You got this…. and good luck!

Did this answer your question?