How important is the impression you make with your resume? What elements can cause a resume to "stand out" among the rest? In this month’s column, we will address these and other questions about making sure the first impression you have on a potential employer is the best it can be. Regardless of the extent of your professional and educational background, your career is nonetheless summed up in words on a page. A resume should be a summary of your professional and personal experiences education, clinical expertise, employment milestones, skills and interests within the workplace. Overall, your resume is a paper introduction to potential employers one that hopefully interests them in interviewing you face-to-face. While this will be the only contact you have with the potential employer early in the search process, statistics show that the average employer spends only 10 seconds looking at your resume, often looking for a reason NOT to interview you. Below are two examples of career experience summaries for applicants for a cath lab director position. The job required cardiac catheterization experience, management experience, and knowledge of implementing new strategies, polices, and procedures. Just by looking at these career summaries, which person would you want to hire? Example #1: Extensive experience and achievement in the following areas: Operations assessment and process implementation utilizing best practice standards; business development; fiscal accountability; strategic planning; and community outreach. Example #2: Over 15 years experience in the healthcare professions with strong experience in invasive, non-invasive cardiology, respiratory therapy, pulmonary functions testing, pulmonary rehabilitation, electrophysiology, and open heart surgery perfusion services, instructing. Extensive knowledge related to budgets, strategic planning, business plan development, patient care, physician relationships, and marketing. Five years experience within cardiology product line management. Was responsible for the planning, implementing, organizing, and evaluating that cardiovascular service line within the hospital. For this position, the person in Example #2 would almost certainly move forward in the search, whereas the person in Example #1 would likely not even qualify for the first round of interviews. Why? The relevant experience and detailed summary statement in Example #2 was placed at the top of the resume, catching the reader’s attention. The individual also used the right keywords within the bullet points, making this resume stand out. More and more, employers depend on a list of pre-selected keywords to narrow the pool of candidates to interview. With growth in cardiovascular programs nationwide, there are increasing numbers of positions becoming available at all levels within the specialty, and hospitals are no doubt inundated with resumes from job-seekers. Thus, with today’s sophisticated technology, employers have increasingly relied on digitizing resumes, placing them in keyword-searchable databases, and then using software to search those databases for those specific keywords that relate to current job vacancies. Some important key words to consider using on your resume when searching for a position within heart and vascular services (if relevant to you) include: Experience Organizing Cardiovascular Planning Knowledge Cardiology Physician Relationships Evaluating Heart Budget Implementing Vascular Development Non-Invasive/Invasive Management Some of these keywords were also used in Example #1, but there was no mention of Cardiology or Cardiovascular, which are among the most important keywords both Corazon and our clients look for. Since the candidate in Example #1 focused more on general job experience rather than on detailing clinical and operational experience as it relates to the open position, this person would likely be passed over in favor of the candidate in Example #2, who used a more detailed and relevant description in the career summary. From my experience as a front-line reviewer of incoming resumes, here are 10 of the most common resume mistakes I see day-to-day, and proven tips and advice for how to avoid them. 1. Overall Appearance: Are there any typos, or grammatical or spelling errors? Always use the spell check feature on your computer, or ask a friend to review your resume before submitting it. This is critical, because these types of avoidable errors reveal something about your attention to detail and/or your written and verbal communication skills. 2. Resume Length: The best resumes are usually no more than two pages in length, with critical information summarized in the top third of the first page. 3. Honesty: Don’t falsify dates or titles on your resume to hide that you’ve been unemployed, switched jobs frequently or held low-level positions. If a prospective employer conducts a background check and discovers that you lied, you can be sure that you won’t be a candidate for the job you are applying for, or any other job with that company in the future. 4. Current Experience: While it is certainly acceptable to have a two-page resume, don’t list every single job you’ve ever had. Personnel managers are most interested in your experience from the last 10 years, so focus on your most recent career experiences and those most relevant to the open position. 5. Resume Format: If you are seeking a job with responsibilities not within your current scope of employment, do not use the chronological format for your resume. By using a functional or skills-oriented format, you can present your most recent and relevant skills and abilities up-front, because these are of greatest interest to the potential employer. 6. Showcase Your Achievements: Don’t simply copy and paste your present or previous job description to show that you are more qualified than your competitors. Instead, present specific accomplishments and achievements, such as: responsible for the increase in cardiac catheterization lab volumes, established the cardiology program, achieved additional clinical experience in invasive cardiology, or enhanced leadership and clinical skills for invasive and non-invasive adult cardiology procedures. When possible, include quantifiable outcomes that show your positive impact in the position. 7. Information to Omit: Don’t reveal specific reasons why you left your previous job, and never badmouth a former employer on your resume. Questions about previous jobs would likely come up during an interview, at which time you could explain the reason(s) for your departure. 8. Send Only Your Resume: Do not include copies of transcripts, letters of recommendations, certificates or awards, or any other documentation unless you are specifically asked to do so. If you are called in for an interview, you may bring these extra materials with you in support of your qualifications. 9. Personal Information: Do not include information on your marital status, age, race, religion, family, or hobbies. This type of information can be considered discriminatory, and potential employers cannot make decisions (either for or against you) based on this type of information. 10. Do Not Email Your Resume To More Than One Employer At The Same Time! You definitely want to treat each position as if it’s your first choice. Never give the employer an impression that they are second best. As the demand for cardiac and vascular professionals increases in markets nationwide, we hope that these tips give you the tools needed to reach and exceed your career goals. Look for our column in next month’s Cath Lab Digest, where we will discuss interviewing techniques to help you maximize the face-to-face time with a potential employer. Jessica Bricker is the Search Coordinator at Corazon, offering specialized consulting and recruitment services for cardiovascular program development. Corazon combines strategic business planning, market and financial analysis, feasibility studies, clinical operations, program implementation support, Heart Hospital design, best practice benchmarking, executive search, and staff/leadership education for newly established or existing heart and vascular programs. Call 412-364-8200 or visit www.corazoninc.com. To reach Jessica, email firstname.lastname@example.org.