Healthcare professionals: Applying for a job in 2009 with a resume from 1999?

When was the last time you looked at your resume?  Still using the skills you learned in school – 1 page, 3 bullet points per section, use words like “responsible?” 

Today, when it comes to screening healthcare professionals, recruiters for hospitals and staffing suppliers alike deal with a constant stream of information.  Even though there is a shortage of healthcare professionals, competition for nursing jobs and other healthcare professions can be significant for popular locations and hospitals.  So, how do you stand out and stay relevant?

Of course things like format and style of your resume are important, as well as the basic content about your credentials, skills, qualifications, work history, and education. 

However, for many recruiters in the healthcare staffing industry, the days of reading resumes off of a fax machine are over.  Most of these people now rely on job boards, social networking sites and make use of applicant tracking software.  This means that there is a new item critical to making a successful resume:

Keywords.

What are keywords?
In this context, keywords are specific words or terms used by employers to find the right candidate match in the same way you perform a search on Google with specific words.  When recruiters are making use of such technologies mentioned above they are searching for resumes with keywords appropriate to the skill match of the candidates they are looking for.  Therefore, the more keywords you use and the more accurate those keywords are, the more likely it is your resume will come up in the searches performed by these potential employers.

For example, if you search on the word "nurse" in any job search engine, you will get an overwhelming number of results returned.  However, if you search for the phrase "registered nurse intensive care unit” you're results are much fewer and more specific.

Who’s got the keys?
Knowing what keywords to use is easy.  Just look at a diverse sampling of job postings from employers posting jobs similar to the one you are looking for.   Each of these postings will have keywords for skills, qualifications, and types of credentials for the specific heatlhcare professionals they are looking for.  Make a list of all the keywords you see in each job posting and start keeping track of the duplicate ones.  The more commonly used words are most likely your most valuable keywords.  This will give you a good idea of a common set of keywords to use when creating your resume and cover letters.  Yes, you do need a cover letter and you need to use keywords in there as well.

Stay current.
Additionally, keep up with industry trends and topics by reading relevant healthcare blogs and publications.  Follow specific thought leaders or organizations and be sure you are keeping up with the latest hot topics, policies, changes and lingo in your industry.  Doing this will also keep you up to speed on current keyword usage.

Getting noticed in the stream of healthcare professionals looking for jobs can be a difficult task.  However, following tips like this will help you stay on top of the game.

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