The Power of the Résumé


A potential employer is the only audience your résumé needs to impress. Not your instructors, not your colleagues, and not your mother. If your résumé doesn’t pass this test, it has not been written properly, and improperly written résumés don’t get interviews. No interview = no job.

Poorly written résumés generally share a few key characteristics that cause the applicant to be passed over. These are common mistakes that both NP and PA job seekers make—and make quite frequently—when crafting their résumés.

Let’s first review the purpose of a résumé.

The function of a résumé is to market yourself and to demonstrate to a potential employer that you have enough of what they are looking for in a clinician so they want to meet you in person and learn more. That’s right. Your résumé serves one purpose and that is to get you an interview. If you have the notion that your résumé will get you the job, you are missing the point. No one has ever been hired directly from a résumé.

Résumés are also reviewed in 30 seconds or less. This means you better get to the point quickly. You can’t afford to drown the employer in a mountain of irrelevant details that have nothing to do with the job qualifications. One of the biggest résumé sins you can commit is including too much info about skills or experiences that will be of no use to the employer, because they do not correlate directly to the open position. For example, an ortho practice really doesn’t care that you can do pap smears or have expertise in well-child exams. Nor do they care what you did prior to becoming an NP or PA. How exactly will your work as a barista or bank teller possibly make you more marketable as an NP or PA?

The answer is that it won’t. Including all your unrelated experience is not only going to confuse the employer as to what makes you think you are qualified, but it also makes you look unprofessional and distracts from your pertinent skills. Worse yet, you look as if you never read the job ad. And that is not an impression you want to make.

Try to put yourself inside the head of a hiring manager trying to meet the needs of their clinic, and then ask yourself what in your background will best demonstrate you can do the job. Keep that in mind, and you are far more likely to construct your résumé properly, thus becoming more likely to be asked to interview.


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About Author

Renee Dahring, NP

Renee Dahring received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from North Dakota State University. In 2000, she earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and was reborn as a family nurse practitioner. She currently works as an NP in various correctional settings and teaches at a local university. She has several years of experience in recruiting and helping NPs find their dream jobs and is a featured speaker on resume writing and interviewing. In addition to being a self-proclaimed expert on job seeking, she continues her endless quest to promote latex allergy awareness.

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