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Bad Resume Advice

Published November 6, 2013 9:29 AM by Renee Dahring
I read a lot of resume advice. I like to keep up with what others are telling you to do.  

I realized even when I was a new graduate NP that much of the resume guidance I was receiving was not particularly helpful. I could sense that it wasn't geared toward the medical professions, much less applicable to a nurse practitioner.

Even the placement services at universities and colleges seemed to be a bit clueless when it came to resumes for our professions. This hasn't changed much. In fact it might be worse now that the online job boards are getting into the act and have started handing out resume and job search advice, too.   

I can place much of what I read into three categories: 

  1. Ok advice
  2. Questionable new and trendy advice
  3. Sad and outdated information

The hardest part for you as an NP or PA is figuring out which is which. Let me help you.

The majority of the new and trendy advice is not going to fly in our professions. For instance, the latest recommendation I saw was for something they call the "talking resume". Near as I could tell, it is an audible version of your resume. I also read that you should include a photo of yourself on the back of your resume - exactly how this would work in a resume that is submitted in electronic format is rather sketchy. But at any rate both of these tactics should be avoided.

What you as a PA or NP job seeker should understand is that this type of advice is geared towards people seeking positions in new and trendy industries such as web development, advertising and some innovative new business models and it won't adapt well to healthcare. No matter how cutting edge we believe ourselves to be, you will find it generally isn't going to go over well if you step that far out of the box with your job applications. 

When it comes to outdated info you will read well-meaning advice about paper choices (hello! 2001 is calling and wants its snail mail resume back). 

Alternate formats seem to be popular topics as well. In our profession we strongly prefer the chronological format over the functional format. If you want to impress us please, please don't give us a resume with your skills in a separate section that is detached from the position where you performed said skills. 

And speaking of outdated, if you're instructed to begin your resume with an "objective" you should be aware that this advice is soooo 5 years ago. And furthermore, there is no longer any reason to end with "references upon request". Duh. 

I am also still seeing recommendations for those of you over 40 to omit graduation dates from your education because it may give away your age. BAD ADVICE. Leaving off ANY dates can be a red flag and may disqualify you.

2 comments

I think the e-portfolio is a good exercise to help you gather together your information but I don't see it in use for job applications at this time.  

Renee Dahring November 15, 2013 12:27 PM

what do you think of the e-portfolio - our class was required to make one

Sue Gross, family - FNP-s November 14, 2013 10:48 PM
Sacramento CA

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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