Top resume tips in applying for senior care jobs

Neidy DeJesus
Neidy DeJesus

As a researcher in one of the nation's premier executive healthcare recruiting firms, my job revolves around resumes. A prospective employer will judge it harshly and critically. A resume is the first line of offense.  It's imperative to have your resume stand out among the cattle of job seekers, if you want to land inside the interview office.

It is amazing how much a single document can change the outcome of a person's life.  Many times, spectacular Director of Nursing candidates, amazing regional candidates and even expert C-Suite professionals in the senior care industry can be turned down, just because of a formatting issue on a resume. I once heard it takes less than a minute for a hiring manager to dismiss a resume. I believed it. After screening hundreds of resumes within hours, one finds ways to quickly eliminate resumes that don't fit the bill.

Here at MedBest, we are a healthcare recruiting firm that specializes in matching mid- to upper-level management with companies in the senior care industry. We don't only base our search on which resumes look the best.  We dig deeper to find out what makes the candidate look the best.  

That may involve correcting simple, but crucial elements on his or her resume. Simply put, I'm considered the resume police here at MedBest. I have created some of the many improvements I implement when sending in our candidates with resume in hand.

Formatting for your recruiter

  • Formatting is of huge importance with resumes. The idea is to draw attention quickly to the most important details in a way that is professional and visually appealing.
  • Bold and Italic features are attention getters.  For example, a company name would read, Health and Rehab of Anytown, USA. Then for the job title, it would read Director of Nursing.
  • Bullets should be created to draw attention to accomplishments. They highlight your successes.  For example if you are a Director of Sales and Marketing, a bullet could be “Increased census from 68% to 90%.” If you were an administrator, a bullet could be “Increased XYZ facility from a Two-Star to a Five-Star building.
  • Fonts should be professional and easily readable. Although great for visual appeal, “scripts” are not good resume fonts, as they are more difficult to read.
  • Divide your resume. Use lines to separate each section.  This is a great way for the employer's eyes to go directly to what is most important to them.

Organizing dates

  • Tenure and job stability is a major focus for our clients.  With that being said, ensuring dates of employment are accurate and are well represented is a big part of having a great resume. If dates don't match up, it looks sketchy.
  • List your employment opportunities in DESCENDING order of importance. For example, as a Director of Nursing, you want to show that you have had recent experience as a DON quickly. A bad resume would put a CNA job at the top of the resume over a DON position.
  • Portray your growth within a company. The best way to do this is to make the corporation name a subheading. For example, let's say that you were an activities director with ABC Nursing Home, who then became the administrator with ABC Nursing Home, who then became the regional director of operations with ABC HealthCare. Making ABC Healthcare a subtitle will show not only your tenure, but also your amazing growth within the company

What's inside matters

  • In fact, it's what's most important. Instead of just writing your job description under each opportunity, show off your amazing results and your greatest accomplishments.  What did you do for your facility's regulatory history? Did you improve the morale and happiness of the residents and staff? And what about the financials of the company?  Do you see where I'm headed with this?
  • Whenever possible, give numbers.  “Increased resident satisfaction” is great, but “Increased ratings on the Resident Satisfaction Survey from 50% satisfied to 98% satisfied” is even better. Specifics hold more weight than generalizations.
  • List your certifications and degrees.  For example if you are a nurse with a Compact License, show that off.  It could be an open door to opportunities in other states, or even regions.
  • Your resume does NOT need to fit in one page. This is a huge myth regarding good resumes. However it should definitely be concise.
  • The best advice of all is be yourself (even though it sounds cliche).  Let your personality shine through, don't just pick a format from Word and fill out the information.  It is the resume that is original and professional that moves up to the  hiring authority.
  • Spelling and grammar is a given. Use your Spell Check.

And after all of that, remember that MedBest is here to help you.  We make suggestions for improving resumes on a daily basis. We don't want our clients to miss out on their next greatest team member because some words were not bolded, or because the resume was hard to read.  We are healthcare executives placing healthcare executives. As healthcare recruiters for the senior care industry, it's imperative that our clients see only the best representation of our candidates. If you are confidentially seeking a management or C-Suite opportunity, contact us and we will help you find your next position within the senior care industry.

Best wishes on your search!

Neidy DeJesus is the MedBest director of research and development. Leslee Lacey, a marketing consultant at MedBest, also contributed to this piece. 

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