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Write a powerful resume.

Write a Powerful Resume A resume is a short powerful document that showcases your accomplishments. It is a necessary document to use in a job search, but, by itself, it will not get you a job. Randomly mailing resumes does not often get an interview for a high-level job. Word-of-mouth contact usually gets you the interview, but you must have a good-looking resume to send before you get there. It must look as polished as your interview suit and give the employer valuable information about you.

A curriculum vitae, on the other hand, is a long document. It tells all the places you have shown up for work, all your publications, your education, everything you have done. We all need one to keep track of our professional lives, but it is not what you send a potential employer. Believe it or not, people doing the hiring do not want to read all about you. They're busy, lazy, or bored by too much information. If we become the ones doing the hiring, we don't want to read long documents either.

So you write a short powerful resume to send to a potential employer--three pages, no more. That means you will have to pick and choose items from your curriculum vitae. Making it short forces you to put your best stuff down and leave out things you don't want to do again. Choose the activities that you have enjoyed in the past and would like to do more of. If you don't ever want to do work with computers again, don't show your next employer on your resume that you have the skill. You'll also choose activities that are appropriate for the job you are applying for. If you want a management position, you would tell about what you accomplished on a utilization review committee rather than about a great discovery you made in your clinical practice.

At the top of the first page, type your full name, address, and home and office phone numbers (if it is all right for your office to know you're looking). Include zip code and area code; you do not want the employer to have to do the work of looking up that information. You provide all the information so they can easily get in touch with you.

Next, list all your professional experience. It goes before education because experience is the most important factor in getting a management position. When you choose items from your curriculum vitae, most likely you will have to add information. True, you worked at St. Vincent's Hospital from 1986 to 1990, but what did you do while you were there? Did you help lower costs in the emergency department? How much? If you worked for a managed care facility, you might say, "Developed four new satellite offices, recruited eight primary care physicians over a two-year period, and reduced length of stay from 450 to 375 days per 1,000, which has resulted in a first-time operational surplus for the plan."

Notice the numbers. People like to know that you have saved an organization money or increased its revenues, and they want to know how much and over what period. Use numbers to prove your general statements whenever you can.

Use strong active voice verbs such as developed, recruited, reduced. An example of active voice is "John hit the ball." Passive voice is, "The ball was hit by John." Stay away from the passive. Just as the name implies, it is not as powerful. When applying for management positions, use phrases such as "led the team that..." to show that you can manage people. Managers are not supposed to do everything themselves. They are supposed to help others to do.

You can use a chronological or functional format for your resume. In a chronological resume, you list what you've done in reverse order. For example, your most recent job from 1989 to the present is listed first under professional experience. Then you describe the position you had from 1983 to 1989 and so on, heading backward. If you are running out of room, you may have to leave out some information from 20 years ago. A functional resume is helpful if you have been at the same place for the past 15 years. You can list the management functions you have performed in that one location in reverse chronological order. Examples: 1988-present, Chariman of Long-Range Planning Committee; 1986-1988, Chairman of Hospital Utilization Review Committee.

Education can be listed in the order that it happened. Most of your education was in college and medical school, but people do notice if you have continuing medical education if you are applying for a management position. The important concern for the education section is that you have the entry and completion dates and the degree earned for each item. If it took you six years to finish college because you had to work to earn money, you need to mention that. Otherwise, it might be assumed you had lazy, shiftless tendencies that may reappear in the new organization. Explain gaps of a year or longer, not months--that's getting too detailed.

What you include after work experience and education will be determined by how much room is left and what kind of position you are applying for. If you are applying for a management position, you would include publications on management topics, not your clinical publications. Many of those doing the hiring will look at a long list of clinical publications and say, "So what--you're not going to be practicing cardiology now." If you are applying to be dean of a medical school, you can include all your publications in a separate attachment, because publications are the badge of honor in academic circles.

Do include licensure and board certification. Most medical management positions require board certification. People ask, "Why, since I won't be doing internal medicine." It may be like a dog needing a pedigree to be a show dog or it may be that other doctors you manage will have passed the boards, and they want to know that you made it through boot camp, too. Fair or not, it most often is a requirement.

You can include honors (Alpha Omega Alpha, Phi Beta Kappa), languages (Spanish is impressive in Florida), special skills (computer literacy), professional associations (American College of Physician Executives, American Academy of Pediatrics), or other information that you think is appropriate for the job you're applying for. There is much debate about whether to include birthdate. One way or another, they are going to find out how old you are, so you might as well put it in at the end.

Do not put in the resume why you are leaving your present position, your personal opinions (doctors hate to be managed), or salary history. The interview is the place to discuss such things. Don't list your references or say they are available on request. Everyone already knows you will provide references. Also, do not give the names of your references until you have called each of them and asked permission. You want a reference to be prepared to talk about you--not caught off guard.

Once you have collected all the information you need for the resume, you must think about how to dress up the finished product. People do pay attention to the color and thickness of the paper, the quality of the print. Just as you use fine linens on a dining table for important guests, you use fine quality paper to impress your potential employer. Good 24-pound white bond paper with black ink is a good choice. People used to have a print shop produce 500 copies in typeset print. That's not the best way to go, because people think you are sending resumes out by the hundreds. They like to feel you are applying especially for their job. Also, the resume often has to be changed from one prospective employer to another. You may find you want to highlight certain of your activities based on what the employer says it's looking for. The very best solution these days is to have your resume on a word processor disk and print it with a laser printer or one of the cheaper laser-like printers (Hewlett-Packard Deskwriter). Many print shops have computers that you can use for a small fee and print on their laser printer for $2 per page. As always, a good quality typewriter is acceptable print. A computer dot matrix printer is not.

Some recruiters are faxing resumes to organizations. Don't do it, and don't let agents who represent you do it. The fax is a wonderful new invention, but most people agree the paper is not ideal. It curls up, the print is not wonderful, and the words can fade after a short time. You do not want someone annoyed when they are reading your resume. If you think you must fax a resume, immediately mail a copy.

Be consistent in your layout. If you put professional experience, education, and other main headings in bold print, make them all the same. Don't bold print some and underline others. You will want to use all the space for your information, but having enough white space makes others want to read the document. Have top, bottom, and side margins and a space between major items.

No typing mistakes. If you have them, people think you don't care enough to send the very best. Even with computer spell checkers, it's almost impossible to catch all the errors yourself. You've been working with the information so long you become blind to errors. Get several other people to proof the resume for you. A technique for proofing if you cannot find someone else is to read the document backwards. You're unable to concentrate on the meaning, so you are more likely to find the typos.

A resume never leaves home without a cover letter, and every resume sent out has a different cover letter. Otherwise, the person receiving looks at the resume and thinks, what's this? Why did I get it? Why should I read another resume? It gets put in the trash can or conveniently hidden so the recipient will not feel guilty about not reading it. The cover letter should tell briefly how you learned of the position, why you are sending your resume, and when you will call to see if you can meet with the person. It is printed on the same paper that the resume is on. The cover letter is the last part in the writing process, but it is not written until you know exactly who will receive the resume.

As much trouble as it is to write a resume, you feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish. You get a concrete look at who you are and what you've done professionally. As you make plans for your future, it is important to examine your present and past to see if the direction you are taking makes sense. In addition to its other contributions, the resume helps develop this perspective.

Barbara J. Linney is Director of Career Development, American College of Physician Executives, Tampa, Florida.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American College of Physician Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Linney, Barbara J.
Publication:Physician Executive
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Prescription for physician executives: take care of your doctors.
Next Article:The challenge for women physician executives.

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