This post was written in collaboration with Dr. Michelle Mudge-Riley. Look for Zebras has no financial relationship with Dr. Mudge-Riley or her company, Physicians Helping Physicians.
Recently, I saw an article about AI being used – to screen resumes for jobs! In addition to knowing how to “beat” the algorithms, the article talks about the fact that jobs are getting more and more applicants. This is true for many industries, and definitely for non-clinical jobs.
While it used to be “easy” for a physician to get a job at, say, an insurance company, the 3-4 other applicants have now become 30-40 other applicants, all interested in transitioning from a clinical to a non-clinical job.
What employers look for in a non-clinical physician resume
Once you’ve passed the AI algorithms, how do you make sure you stand out – in a good way? It starts with knowing about the trends in hiring and in application submission. Let’s take a look at what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.
Customize your physician resume for the job you’re applying for
A job search can suck up a lot of your time. Developing a single, generic resume and sending it out to every potential employer might make things easier on the front end. But it may lead to disappointment.
Your resume should be individualized based on the job that you’re applying for. By writing about your experiences at prior positions with a specific future job in mind, anyone who reads your resume is more likely to see how the two roles relate to one another.
Emphasize what you’ve accomplished
The descriptions that you write for each work experience shouldn’t simply list your job responsibilities. Write about the results of your efforts and what you accomplished on the job. By doing this, you demonstrate how you solve problems, lead teams, and attain goals – regardless of what day-to-day tasks you’re wrapped up in.
Measurable accomplishments are a plus. For example, you may have led a project that resulted in a cost savings of $400,000 for the company. Or you hired and trained a team of 15 clinicians for a new line of business. These are worth mentioning.
Use clear, straightforward language
I once had a phone screen with a company recruiter for a position. As we were going through my resume, she read off one of the bullet points describing a previous job. Then she paused and said, “Can you explain that to me? I have no idea what that means.”
I had used language that was common in the small field I’d been working in, but unfamiliar to anyone outside of it. That was a resume faux pas that I could have avoided.
It’s fine to use terms that are included in a job ad for the position your applying for, as well as language that you know is universal and ordinary within the company. Otherwise, big words, jargon, and abbreviations are unlikely to impress the head of talent acquisition. They may even cause a skill or accomplishment to be overlooked.
Help employers translate your clinical experience to non-clinical experience
A lot of physician resumes list the titles held in various clinical positions without any explanation. This makes it difficult for the employer to see the value a candidate can add in a non-clinical position. Think about how your clinical experience puts you in a position to excel in the responsibilities of a non-clinical role, and ensure that your resume reflects this.
This is especially important for non-clinical jobs that don’t necessarily require a medical degree. A recruiter may not automatically realize how your medical background will help you excel at the job. You need to guide their thought process as they review your application. For many non-clinical jobs, this means highlighting leadership experience and mentioning projects undertaken on top of your regular patient care activities.
Paint a clear picture of your career over time
Physician careers are often more complicated than a series of consecutive full-time jobs.
For some, training is interspersed with gap years and moonlighting. After starting “real” jobs, many of us have more going on professionally than just a 9-to-5. It might be a side hustle, a rogue academic appointment, or a non-clinical job that allows for a day of clinical work each week.
This can make it difficult for recruiters to get a general sense of an applicant’s career over time. So help out the recruiter by clearly indicating how your jobs, consulting work, fellowships, and other experiences have fit into your career trajectory.
For example, use parentheses to say if a position was part-time or intermittent. Be transparent as to whether a short experience was a fixed-length internship or a job that you quit after a few months.
Don’t keep recruiters guessing, and definitely don’t attempt to make a position look like something that it’s not.
Pay attention to formatting and visual appeal
The overall look of your resume matters.
A sloppy resume screams out –
This candidate doesn’t pay attention to detail.
Or, worse –
He didn’t even take the time to make his resume readable. Does he truly want this job?
So, put in the time to create a nicely formatted resume that looks professional. This includes:
- Checking for spelling and grammatical errors
- Using a common, easy-to-read font in a reasonable size
- Being consistent in formatting throughout the document
- Leaving a pleasing amount of white space
Leave out details that don’t add value
Resumes don’t need an objective. Your objective is clear when you submit a job application. You also don’t need to use up space to indicate that references are available upon request.
Any skills that are listed should be highly relevant to the job you’re applying for. The same goes for hobbies – be cautious when including these and have a specific reason for doing so.
Additionally, for most non-clinical job applications, you don’t need to include:
- License and DEA numbers
- A long list of all your publications and presentations
- Your hospital privileges
Get a professional physician resume
Give your resume a once-over. If you were looking at this for the first time, what would your impression be on first glance? In the first 20 seconds? If you wanted to spend 2-3 minutes reviewing it, what would stand out? What would the reader miss?
These questions can be tough to answer.
If you want some extra help – meaning a personalized resume that’s professionally edited by a physician – consider Look for Zebras’ Resume Overhaul service.