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Career Coach

New Grad Resume Style

Published March 19, 2014 2:47 PM by Renee Dahring
I was speaking to a group of spring graduates a couple weeks ago about how to create an effective resume. In my talks I emphasize the importance of both content and format. Those of you who are familiar with my website and my various articles will note that when it comes to resumes, I recommend a pretty standard format. 

After I finished my presentation, a soon to be new graduate raised her hand to voice a concern. "I am worried that my resume will look pretty much like everyone else's resume if I follow your advice."  

My answer? Yes, it absolutely will! That is the goal. 

Recruiters and human resources personnel review a lot of resumes and they review them very quickly. In fact, most resumes will get no more than a 30 second look - if even that much. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications. In other words, you don't want to make your reviewer work too hard or have to dig too deep to find the pertinent information. The best and most reliable way to accomplish this task is to use a standard format. 

Think about it. That's why we use a standard format, such as SOAP, in the clinical setting when we chart. Because the format never varies, the reader knows exactly how and where to find whatever piece of information they require. Easy peasy. Key information is located exactly where we expect it to be. 

I think the student's real concern, and what she was actually getting at, was a worry that maybe her unique personality wouldn't shine through. Well, remember, the only purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. That means at this stage of the application process it's far more beneficial for you as a job seeker to showcase your skills rather than your personality. Style doesn't belong in a resume. After all, it's a resume, not Facebook. 

I feel the need again to remind all job seekers to always keep in mind that when it comes to landing a job it is all about what the employer wants - and what the employer wants from your resume is simply to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications. 

But don't employers also care deeply about whether or not your personality and style are good fit for the culture of their organization? Yes and the proper place to demonstrate that will be during your interview, not in your resume. 

2 comments

I am an Advanced Practice Nurse Recruiter at a major hospital system and I want to thank you for writing this. As someone who hires nurses all day, I can say you hit the nail on the head. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to sift through 200 CVs/ resumes and not be able to find the education, experience, certification or skills due to fancy formatting. It actually focuses us more on the formatting, not the skill set.

As strange as it sounds, plainly formatted and elaborate descriptions of the skill sets are the best CVs/ resumes!

Thanks again for you excellent advice!

Kelly, Healthcare - Recruiter, University of Maryland Medical Center April 4, 2014 8:13 AM
Baltimore MD

Very helpful and clear, thank you

Also, does past nursing experience, succinctly noted, have much influence on an NP resume ?

Char April 4, 2014 6:03 AM

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