Resume writing for success!

At CareNational we strictly work with health care professionals in Medical Management (sometimes referred to as Healthcare Services) meaning Case Management, Utilization Management, and Quality Management. Since we work with the highest quality hospitals, health plans, and other managed care organizations to support their Medical Management needs, we in turn only provide the highest quality candidates for their review. Our job as a search firm is to connect the perfect candidate with the perfect position.

We see a lot of resumes every day: on job boards, attached to emails, on LinkedIn, and from website applications. On a daily basis we encounter highly qualified candidates who simply underestimate the critical importance of a well-constructed resume. No matter what Medical Management position you are targeting for your next career move, a well-crafted resume can make all the difference for getting you in front of the right people. So ask yourself: Have you crafted the strongest possible resume?

In 2010 CareNational published a paper entitled “How Your Resume Can Drive Success” that addressed the key components for drafting a powerful resume. In 2014 we delved into each of the 7 tips from that white paper with a series of blog articles written by the CareNational recruiting team. In this document, we have compiled all of that great advice and helpful recommendations on how to improve your resume, secure an interview, and land your next great job!

We search for, recruit, and place nurses who have not only a strong acute care background but also more recent experience working in the largely administrative roles of Case Management, Utilization Management and Quality Management. In the process we see countless resumes that don’t immediately catch the attention of the person doing an initial screening. A human resource representative or other 3rd party recruiter will take roughly 30 seconds to scan your resume and decide if you are worth a call. That screening phone call will determine your candidacy for a priority vacancy in medical management. Your primary purpose in crafting a resume is to obtain an interview for a medical management position, plain and simple.

Later chapters will discuss how best to present your experience on your Medical Management resume. But there are simple pointers such as showing off your longevity by always listing months and years of a job, and using specific accomplishments (quantitative, specific and measurable achievements) in addition to a brief description of your job duties are a few of the basics for crafting a powerful resume and securing that interview. But first let’s consider how best to use some key real estate at the top of your resume to display critical information and achieve the purpose of your resume.

So how much should you elaborate on things like your objective, education, and experience? Is your career objective to be a HEDIS Program Manager or a staff-level Concurrent Review nurse? Did you receive an advanced degree such as Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Masters of Health Administration (MHA)? Bottom line, this information should be short and to the point but clearly listed at the top of your resume. No one should be forced to scan through your resume to determine whether or not you are a nurse. It also must be clearly stated upfront if you have advanced degrees or other credentials, such as Certified Case Manager (CCM) or Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ). One of the best tips to highlight this without using too much valuable space, is to include these designations after your name at the very top of your resume. Such as “Joan Smith, RN, BSN, CCM, CPHQ.” This gives a great snapshot introduction and will leave no doubt on who and what you are.

Updating and adjusting your resume is one of the most crucial aspects of any job search. It is where the entire job search starts… and where it can end just as quickly. Most passive candidates, and even active job seekers, don’t always adjust their resume with the proper audience in mind, the person reviewing it: HR.

It’s commonly estimated that most resumes only receive about 30 seconds of consideration before a Human Resources Representative or a 3rd party recruiter will decide if your resume looks worth an exploratory call. At CareNational, we consider the resume to be the “Golden Ticket” through the door for an interview, and professional Medical Management candidates should treat their resume the same.

Below are 3 easy steps to turning your resume into your Golden Ticket:

  1. Buzzwords (or Power Words): Use the buzzwords and keywords within your industry and listed on the job description. (We will be expanding on this topic at greater length in an upcoming chapter.)
    Ask yourself what keywords you can incorporate. Did you use InterQual or Milliman when you were a Utilization Management Nurse? Did you have Discharge Planning experience within your Case Manager role? Have you worked on a recent HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) abstraction project?
  2. Clarity: Clearly state your title and time within the role or organization. Make it easy to glance through your work history and get the basic idea of your past 10 years of work. Consider a standard title format such as: “June 2005 – May 2010: Supervisor of Prior Authorization: XYZ Health Plan: Los Angeles, CA”.
  3. KISS: Keep It Simple… Don’t clutter your resume up. Most will be read on a computer screen or printed out. How easy is it to find out your license info and education? How quickly can someone scan your resume and find YOUR buzzwords? Compare that to: “Joan Smith, RN, BSN, CPHQ. Experienced Quality Management leader, that has spearheaded 4 NCQA and 2 URAC accreditations, and improved STARs and CHAPS ratings by 70% for 2 separate Managed Care Organizations, seeks Director of Performance Improvement position.”

Remember that HR Reps don’t work in Case Management, and they don’t have a background in Utilization Review, or Discharge Planning, or Quality Improvement. They have experience in Human Resources and hiring top talent. Therefore Medical Management candidates need to be very careful to clearly state their job titles, experiences, and background so they can turn their resume into the Golden Ticket for finding their next great career opportunity.

When preparing or updating your resume, I find it is always helpful to write a resume that speaks directly to the position you are seeking. Whether you are a strong RN Case Manager, Utilization Review Nurse, or Quality Management professional, it is crucial you decide what position you are targeting and make sure the resume screams all about that skill set.

When adding an objective of your targeted position or when beefing up the qualifications section, be sure to clearly outline what skills and experiences you have that directly relate to the particular position for which you are applying. Be sure to really fine tune each prior position that demonstrates the skills needed in your targeted job. That way the company will know you are qualified and the best fit for the job.

As an example, imagine you are applying to a contract H.E.D.I.S. (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) abstraction position. You will want to tailor your resume to highlight your past experiences that not only directly relate to HEDIS work, but also the supporting skill sets needed. (You can use the company’s job description to make sure your ideas and terminology match closely.) Use the summary or objective to emphasize that you worked on HEDIS projects for the last 3 years. Expound at greater length on the details of those HEDIS positions in your reverse chronological listing of work history. You would also want to make sure that prior jobs with similar skill sets used, such as chart review, coding, or over-reading abstracted charts, are speaking to those experiences. Alternatively, when applying to jobs unrelated to H.E.D.I.S., you would keep the details of those positions brief, and expand on others.

For most resume’s you ideally want a 1 page document, but this is extremely hard to do when you have been in nursing for 20+ years. Regardless you should keep your resume to a 2 page maximum. Also, keep in mind that after you have transitioned into a Medical Management or Healthcare Services role, your clinical roots make you a more qualified nurse and therefore a stronger candidate, so you don’t want to simply discard 5-10 years of clinical hospital nursing experience from your work history. I find when I assist nurses in improving their resumes, we tend to be more detailed on recent or related positions, and as we go further back in time on the resume we add fewer points and less detail. This helps to keep the resume brief yet focused on the targeted job.

As a final pointer, I recommend to our medical management candidates that they avoid paragraph writing. That’s true for each work history listing, as well as for most summary sections. I always guide my nurse candidates to use bullet points whenever applicable, as this not only keeps the resume to a minimum, but is much easier for both an HR representative and the hiring manager to read. Ultimately this leads to a better success rate for applications leading to interviews, and that is really the whole purpose of having a resume.

Most resumes and CVs include an “OBJECTIVE” section that is designed to give the reader an idea as to what the candidate is trying to accomplish by submitting this document. Career specialists and recruiters may have varying opinions on whether an objective section should even be included, but that really depends on whether the space is used properly or not. A compelling objective is your first impression and can sometimes be the determining factor whether the recipient continues to read further.

An appealing objective should include a statement that clearly defines your intentions. Be concise and to the point so your audience doesn’t have any reason to question your intention. For example, if you are looking for a Quality Improvement nurse position, or a HEDIS Project Manager role, then you should state it specifically. Make sure you use the key words and phrases that are relevant to your field of expertise and the position or company you are targeting. Often times an objective omits these words which can give the reader the impression that you are just looking for a job as opposed to a specific career role.

The objective section may seem superfluous, as every resume has the same purpose, and so in a sense the same objective, that is to secure an interview and ultimately land the job. If you do use a very generic and non-compelling objective, such as the following, it does not add anything to your resume and might as well be omitted.

OBJECTIVE: “To obtain a rewarding position where I can utilize my skills and expertise to aid in the advancement of your company.”

This is an example that could be placed on top of any resume for any job in any field and it would remain true. It is essentially a non-statement and is taking up limited real estate on a resume you are trying to keep brief.

An objective must be compelling and targeted, and it should be specific to you and the company where you wish to work. Since it is often the first line read, see it as an opportunity to demonstrate that you have a specific goal in mind, that you have researched the company you are applying to, and that you can bring a unique value and talent specific to the organization’s needs. For example:

OBJECTIVE: “Dedicated Medical Management RN, BSN, CCM with over 10 years in progressive leadership roles within Case Management and Utilization Review, including community outreach programs, seeking position as the Director of Healthcare Services with a non-profit health plan that is committed to improving healthcare for underserved populations within the community.”

When you are drafting your resume, it’s a good idea to include powerful words and phrases. These terms and statements have a greater impact on the reader as opposed to more generic expressions. To be clear, this is not to say you should find a list of “power words” and pepper your resume at random with words like dynamic and innovative and glorious, etc. You should use the words and phrases that add details to your accomplishments and highlight your understanding of the specific jargon of your field of work. In the healthcare industry, particularly in Medical Management, using appropriately powerful keywords and specific terms can help you stand head and shoulders above your competition.

I tell my nurse candidates to avoid just thinking of your everyday functions when crafting your resume but think of accurate and compelling adjectives and achievements that give a hiring manager a clear depiction of your skills and experience. Instead of using non-descriptive phrases like “I have experience working with different health plans and government agencies,” try to identify who or what those health plans and government agencies are, by name if possible or at least by type. As an example, “Served as liaison with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on behalf of a Managed Care Organization.”

Recently I assisted an RN update her resume for a HEDIS Program Manager position with a rapidly growing health plan that was already preparing for the 2015 HEDIS season. She had worked several H.E.D.I.S. (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) projects in the past, as both a chart abstractor and later by performing over-reading of those abstractions, but for this Program Manager position we wanted to highlight her past leadership experience as well. Her most recent position was as a Supervisor of Quality Management, but the write-up for that on her resume was a very vanilla “Supervised daily activities of Performance Improvement team.” So as we discussed that role over the phone, she described in detail all her various duties and accomplishments while in that position. I told her to write those details down, and together we crafted this update to that section of her resume: “Lead a Quality Improvement team of 5 nurses and 7 administrative personnel in developing, initiating, and refining a new process of chart review that enhanced coding accuracy by 65% in the first 6 months. Recommended and implemented a company-wide initiative of random chart auditing by all department supervisors that reduced over-payments by $1.36 million dollars in 3 years.”

Take a look at your current resume. Have you carefully used powerful statements and keywords to make your resume more specific and attractive to hiring managers? Remember purpose of the resume is to secure an interview, and ultimately get the job, so use the right words and phrases the next time you are updating your resume. Make sure you craft a powerful resume that will get you on track for a powerful career.

“You only have one chance to make a first impression,” is definitely true when meeting someone in person and it’s just as important when you are writing to someone regarding a potential job opportunity. The key question when considering whether or not to write a cover letter is: “Who is going to read this?” As long as you are confident that an actual human being and not a computer program will be doing the reading, then it makes sense investing the time to craft a well-written cover letter.

Writing a stellar and focused cover letter becomes even more important in today’s job market when there are so many applicants competing for the same position. If you follow some basic guidelines, you can set yourself apart from the other applicants. Below are some ideas to consider when writing a cover letter so you can be the one that stands out!

BE SPECIFIC: Address the cover letter to a specific person rather than “To Whom it May Concern.” Do your best to research the person responsible for hiring. Through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, you should be able to find the name of a relevant employee to whom you can address your cover letter; it may even be listed on the job ad.

  • For example, you can use LinkedIn advanced search or Twitter advanced search to find names, or if the company has a profile, you can view its employees from there.
  • Don’t just choose a random individual, find someone involved in the hiring process. Ideally you should be writing directly to your future boss; so if you are applying for a HEDIS Program Manager position, you should address it to the Director of Quality Improvement. Use their name if you can, and make sure the title is accurate, as some organizations use different titles for the same position, so it might be the Director of Performance Improvement or Director of Healthcare Services at the company you are writing to.
  • If you cannot determine the name or at least the title of your future boss/hiring manager, consider writing to someone in Human Resources, again preferably a Director or Manager. This will help get your resume in the right hands from day one.

BE CONCISE: Cover letter should be 1 page at a maximum and can be divided into 3-4 brief paragraphs. Keep it simple and to the point, make it easy to read through quickly, and remember sometimes less is more.

  • The 1st paragraph should indicate the reason you are writing or how you heard about the position. Try to open with an attention grabbing yet professional sentence. For example, “A proven track record in Utilization Management makes me the ideal candidate for this position,” or, “My 12 years of experience in Quality Management is the expertise that ABC Company needs to achieve your stated goal of…”
  • The 2nd paragraph should be used to explain your qualifications and highlight with specific examples how your experience and skills match what the employer is seeking. For example, “I am an effective Case Manager,” doesn’t actually convey anything to the reader. Instead try saying, “During the past year alone, I have documented over $300K in cost savings for XYZ Health Plan with a rate of 95% for increased positive outcomes to patient care and in overall return to abilities.” Numbers tend to POP amongst words, and employers love to see concrete proof that supports what you are saying.
  • The 3rd paragraph should be used as a closing paragraph to thank the reader for their consideration and to request an opportunity to meet to discuss the position further. You should also provide your contact information (phone number and email) so the employer knows how to reach you. Another option is to be more proactive and state a follow-up action on your part. For example, “I will contact you within the next several days to set-up a time to talk.” Then you must make sure you actually follow through with what you said you were going to do!

CUSTOMIZE IT: Although you are likely sending out cover letters and resumes to multiple companies, do not broadcast this by using a generic template letter. For example, instead of “I am very interested in working for your company,” customize it by replacing ‘your company’ with the actual company name. Additionally, make sure you address the specific company’s needs with your talents; what challenges are they facing that hiring you will solve? “I have developed several policy ideas that I believe can help reduce hospital re-admission rates by at least 30%.” Employers can tell when you are using a one-size-fits-all type cover letter and they don’t like it! Like the objective statement on your resume, if you are only going to use a generic one, don’t bother. By taking a few extra minutes to state the company’s name, why you want to work there, and addressing specifically how you can benefit them, you could set yourself apart from the masses of generic applicants.

PROOFREAD IT: If you have grammatical errors or misspellings, this can immediately disqualify you from being considered for a position. Employers often view this as being careless and an inability to write effectively. Highlighting that you are “Detail Oriontated” is not just ironic, it’s can also be quite damaging. Always proofread and have a friend proofread it as well. We will expand on this topic in the next chapter: “Ask for Feedback.”

IMPROVE YOUR ODDS: You took the time to write an exceptional cover letter and craft a focused resume, but you just sent your resume and cover letter off into the unknown abyss of the internet. You are left wondering, did they even receive my electronic application and documents? Will a human get a chance to read these or will a computer algorithm determine if I am worthy of an HR representative’s time? It is not a pleasant feeling, but before becoming one of the countless jaded job-seekers who shotgun the same resume and generic cover letter to every job post they see, consider an alternative. Most organization require you to apply through HR, so don’t skip that step, but once you have done that put your hard work and research to work and double-down on your chances to have your cover letter read and resume reviewed. Take the classic approach and physically mail out the cover letter and resume to your future boss, addressing the letter to them by name, or at least by title. I like to imagine that Director of Medical Management, desperate for qualified staff, who reads your letter and likes your resume, calling down to HR asking what the status of your application is, and demanding to know why they can’t see more resumes like yours. If you can get the hiring manager’s interest, you will move through the HR hiring process rapidly. Now you are out of the uncertain abyss of strictly online applications!

The purpose of the cover letter is to grab the reader’s attention by convincing them you are an excellent candidate, make them want to read your resume and, of course, call you in for an interview so you can brilliantly sell yourself in person just like you did on paper!

You have already invested serious time and energy into your resume. Compiling the raw information, condensing it down to concise bullet points, updating it with new work history, re-tooling it for a specific career direction. You have read the latest advice on resume writing, and you have incorporated the best practices into your document. You have learned from experienced career consultants that specialize in your niche or Medical Management nursing, such as the blogs from the team here at CareNational! But before you start firing off that resume to your (hopeful) future boss, there is one last step: ask for feedback.

Remember to keep an open mind during this important step. It can be difficult to hear constructive criticism, especially if you put a lot to time and effort in to what you feel is a great version of your resume. A close friend or trusted co-worker can be a good choice for the first review, especially for finding and fixing those embarrassing typos or grammar errors.

It is also a good idea to utilize your professional references, such as former managers. It is a great time to verify their contact info and let them know you are still using them as a reference. You can also ask that past boss if your resume accurately reflects your specific strengths and accomplishments from that time. They may even recall a particular project or event that you didn’t think to include.

I was recently speaking with a Transplant Case Management nurse who took my advice on asking a colleague, a fellow Complex Care Manager, to critique his resume. He was surprised when his peer reminded him of a project he had spearheaded to revamp a time-intensive process. The result of his efforts was a much more streamlined procedure and he was later recognized by the Director of Healthcare Services as the Employee of the Quarter for his work. I worked with him to make sure that example of excellence was included in his list of accomplishments.

Go outside of your specialty for advice and ask a friend who works in an entirely different field to put a fresh set of eyes on your resume. Unlike a peer in your field, they will bring a new perspective and may prompt you to add further details or omit unnecessary rhetoric. After all, they will be able to tell you if your resume makes sense to a lay person, not just a specialist; remember an HR representative is often your first reader.

Be brave! Send your resume to several LinkedIn contacts for their viewpoints. They may have new ideas to help leverage your skills and years of experience to help market your talents. It is also a clear opportunity to network and leverage those established connections to help with your career search.

Always remember that you get one opportunity to make a first impression, so proofreading for content, format, spelling, and proper grammar are of paramount importance, and asking someone else to take a look can bring a new frame of reference. Consider all the advice you hear and then utilize the best of it to make some critical changes to your resume. This should result in an improved resume, which will help you secure the interview, and land that dream job!

Conclusion

Writing a resume may seem like a lot of work, but it is the first step to get that dream job, so take it seriously. Use your resume to demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to excellence in your profession. Every job-seeker must know their resume’s purpose and audience, understand that less can be more, use a compelling objective and power words, consider a cover letter, and always, ALWAYS ask for feedback. You might be amazed by the resumes that list “Attention to Detail” as one of their top skills, but the resume is formatted with widely varying font styles and sizes, contain obvious typos, or use Medical Management or health care terms incorrectly. Sadly, we have even seen candidates misspell their own name on their resume! If you keep these 7 simple, yet important, tips in mind when crafting, updating, or reviewing your resume, you will greatly increase your chances of securing an interview and ultimately getting hired.

CareNational HealthCare Services specializes in career consulting and recruitment within the Medical Management segment of healthcare, with focus in four primary areas: Case Management, Utilization Management, Quality Management, and Reimbursement Management.

CareNational is based in the Phoenix, AZ area, but we operate from Coast to Coast, with openings from Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA; Seattle, WA to Miami, FL. We work with organizations on both the payer and provider side, but always staying in the specialized niche of our four focus areas. Our clients include prestigious national Health Plans, emerging healthcare delivery models, and some of the oldest, most respected Hospitals in the country. We also work with specialized care providers, workers’ compensation companies, HMOs, Medical Groups, IPAs, and TPAs. Our candidates are primarily licensed clinical nurses, but they do range the whole depth and breadth of Health Care professionals working in our niche focus areas.

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Phone: 800-974-4828 |Web: CareNational.com

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