Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders
Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders

MSA Search BlogInsights from over 30 years of Healthcare Executive Search

Tips for Better Résumé Organization

We've all seen the statistic that a recruiter only takes 5 to 6 seconds to review a résumé, so we know that résumé first impressions count! I see so many résumé styles come through that I found it necessary to develop a simple list of tips to better organize your information. This won't guarantee that a recruiter will spend more time looking at your résumé, but at least they will get the information and it will potentially earn you that great first impression that's needed within the time they're reviewing. 

Résumé Organization Tips

  1. Pick an easy to read layout or format, and stick with it. Remember, this is a professional representation of you and you are being evaluated on the information provided. Be consistent with clear fonts, spacing, and overall organization, and include dates of employment with each position (example: 05/00-03/15) 
  2. Make it easy for us to reach you—give us your digits! Did you remember to provide your cell phone number and/or home phone number? Email address? If you're on LinkedIn, supply your profile URL. We like reading the information you provide and any recommendations you may have. 
  3. Organize your résumé in reverse chronological order—we want to see your most recent position first. Include detailed information (6-8 bullet points) for the last 10 years of your employment; anything before that can be condensed (3-4 bullet points). 
  4. Include appropriate and relevant accomplishments and responsibilities with each position listed. This is your opportunity to brag on yourself and we LOVE to read it, so ham it up! What was the scope of your role? Were you involved in any special projects or initiatives that lead to increased patient satisfaction or improved survey results, etc.? Are there specific needs listed in the job posting that you have experience with? Add them to your résumé so we can see you have that experience! 
  5. Outline your education and credentials clearly. Include the name of the institution, degree/certification/licensure earned, and year of completion or expected date of completion.

These tips may seem basic, but when you're an experienced leader with many accomplishments and/or positions to share, it's easy to get lost when updating your information. Remember not to make your résumé too lengthy. This is a snapshot of the most important pieces of your career history, and you'll have the opportunity to share more details when you're interviewing. 

Good luck with your revisions, and hopefully some of these simple adjustments will help to get you in front of more recruiters, and ultimately connected with hiring managers!

How We Handle the "Declines"

By Denise RiebeRecruiterMSA Search

As a recruiter, it's always exciting to interact with candidates in the initial stages of a search, which includes sourcing, reviewing resumes, and conducting interviews. Then we get the privilege of introducing the best of the best recruits to our clients from setting up client interviews, to conducting reference calls, to setting up assessments with those candidates the client agreed to meet with. Oh what fun for everyone involved...but, what about those candidates that didn't make the cut? At what point do you let them know they weren't chosen for the next step, and how do you do it? 

At MSA Search, we have a commitment to our candidates to keep them informed, even when it's bad news. We never want to just send them the canned email saying, "Sorry, it didn't work out," or be remembered as the "slow-no" search firm. You never know when that candidate might be a client of yours or when you may need them for another position. All candidates would much rather receive a personal brief note or have a conversation to be notified of the news as soon as possible. It might be a bit awkward for us, but we owe it to all candidates. It's necessary to give them substantial feedback while keeping in mind we need to respect our client's confidentiality. Most candidates will appreciate the personal contact and won't push back. They just want to know so their next endeavor will be successful. 

Résumé and Cover Letter Advice to Tell Your Story

by Roger SamuelExecutive Vice President and Practice Leader, MSA Search

As an executive recruiter, I often see résumés that feature an executive summary and maybe a "career objective" on the first page. A little secret into what recruiters look for first when receiving dozens of resumes a day: experience and accomplishments. We will pretty much ignore these editorial comments you are writing about yourself on our way to ascertaining: what are you doing now? How long have you been in your current role? And, what have you accomplished in this role as well as previous roles? If that information peaks our interest, we'll keep reading. 

The best résumés, in my opinion, tell a story of your career progression. What I'm looking for after that initial scan is how long a candidate has been in various roles, and just as important, with various organizations. I highly recommend that if you've been promoted within a particular organization, list the total years you were with them before articulating various roles within. I love to see internal promotions; it tells me that you were (or are) good enough at what you do.

I also recommend you add a sentence or two describing the various organizations you've worked for. How many beds, net revenue, a brief description of the significant moving parts of the organization (for example, one acute care hospital, seven ambulatory sites, and a 47-provider multi-specialty practice). Again, this will end any guessing on our part as to whether or not you've done work at the scope necessary to succeed in the position we're recruiting for.

One of the absolute keys to getting your résumé into the "yes" pile is to focus on your accomplishments. Even at the most senior-level positions, I still see résumés that are a laundry list of items taken from a job description. Believe me, we know the key responsibilities of a CFO or CNO. What we're interested in is: what have you done to add value to the organization? And the more specific and measurable you can be, the better. 

Finally, I like to see a strong, well-written cover letter accompanying the résumé submission. In fact, I often counsel candidates to take the career objective paragraph out of their résumé, and instead, make a strong case in a cover letter as to why a particular position is attractive, and why they feel they're uniquely qualified for the role. This letter accomplishes quite a few things:

  • Articulates for a recruiter why this position and why now
  • Helps a recruiter prepare for the initial call with you by covering why this position and why now
  • Gives the recruiter a brief example of your ability to write well and make your case 
  • Shows a recruiter you're doing more than just fishing your résumé—you're taking the time to personalize a cover letter specific to a particular position

My final advice is to ignore the old adage that your résumé must be a certain length. Face it, the longer your career, the longer your resume should be. Tell your story!

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