Dear Sam: I am a registered nurse but have earned a master’s degree with a focus on health care administration (MBA-HA). I am seeking entry-level positions in this field. However, most of the job offers I receive focus on my skills at the bedside. How can I get my résumé to incorporate my past experience and skills along with the new knowledge and skills I acquired while pursing my graduate degree? — Glenda
Dear Glenda: I work with many clients who are seeking to leverage recent education and relevant experience to enter a new arena.
Instead of the reverse chronological résumé you currently have, try using more of a combination format. Your current résumé presents clinical experience at the top, so the reader only sees that side of your background.
To overcome this, open your résumé with a Qualifications Summary that presents your clinical background but puts your recent education in the spotlight. Talk about your MBA-HA degree and how that education positions you for a health care administration role. Also, explain how this degree complements your hands-on clinical background.
Leverage the power of both your education and your experience to ensure the reader comes away from that summary thinking, “She has more than 20 years of clinical experience in addition to her MBA-HA degree. Her clinical track record reflects her ability to contribute to our health care organization in an administrative role.”
Next — and key to the combination format — present a Highlights section. In this section, really explore the training you completed during your degree program. Refer to your course catalog and read your class descriptions to get a sense of how to use keywords to effectively summarize your areas of training. Even though these courses aren’t necessarily hands-on experiences, they are still incredibly valuable and need to be promoted as such.
You need five or six highlights; three or four of them need to focus on your health care administration studies, while the others should note highlights from your clinical career and the more administrative sides of your roles.
In the Professional Experience section, your content should be very focused.
Present each role with a brief paragraph overview of your responsibilities, but then take the time to explore accomplishments within each role. You have been in nursing for a while and your roles have been quite diverse, so I believe there are areas you can highlight to show diversity of experience, despite the similarities of your titles.
In the Education section, streamline the presentation a little so the reader can differentiate between your academic studies and your professional-development courses.
Currently, this section of your résumé implies that all these things are equal. Instead, you need to use strategic formatting to make sure the reader can see your degrees at a glance.
Speaking of formatting…. You really need to revamp the look and design of your résumé. Currently, it lacks appeal and reads more like a plain text résumé. Very little is formatted to attract the reader’s attention — there is no spacing between sections and there are far too many ragged lines of fragmented text.
Once you revamp the content and design of your résumé, you should experience increased reader engagement.
I am confident you will be successful based on the qualifications you possess; you just need to spend a little time reshaping your brand.
— Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and the owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Email résumé or job-search questions to email@example.com. To find out more about Nolan, visit www.ladybug-design.com.