How to Write a Resume like a Healthcare Executive

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First impressions are important. A good one can open doors to new opportunities, and a bad one can lead to being overlooked.

For most people seeking a new job or applying for a graduate program, the initial introduction comes in the form of a resume. If you’re a health care executive — or a mid-level career professional interested in becoming one — you need to make that first impression count.

Making your health care resume as effective as possible provides prospective employers or graduate programs with an accurate, detailed insight into your skills, qualifications and accomplishments.

How to Create a Health Care Resume

Here are six tips to help create an effective resume for health care. The objective is to maximize your qualities and position you as a candidate worthy of serious consideration for career advancement or an advanced health care degree.

1. Lead Strong

If your resume serves as your formal introduction, the top of the first page is the opening handshake. As with the first few pages of a novel or screenplay, you need to grab the reader’s attention and hook them immediately. The information that leads your resume should project confidence in your skills and accomplishments while avoiding irrelevancies.

First, consider your audience. A human resources employee or admission officer will typically encounter your resume first. As such, design and write your resume to give them the information they need — and the information you want them to know — quickly and clearly. Highlight your most impressive capabilities, key professional experiences and top accomplishments up front. Many health professionals choose to include an opening section titled “Areas of Expertise” or something similar on their health care resume.

Second, be descriptive. Give yourself a proper title to distinguish yourself at a glance, such as “Senior Director, R&D and Product Development” or “Business Development and Strategic Marketing Executive.” Putting this in the lead will set the table for using descriptive phrases throughout the resume, which can help you summarize your profile and reflect your personality.

2. Formatting a Health Care Resume

A resume that’s difficult to follow is easy to ignore. Make sure your resume presents information clearly and logically, looks distinctive and is easy to read. There are a few basic rules to follow to ensure your resume achieves the right balance.

First, you can study templates and sample resumes for resume formatting ideas. However, sample CVs will only get you so far. To distinguish your resume from the rest, find ways to improve on the design and format of a resume template. Try to express your strengths through the design.

Once you’ve finalized the formatting, the next step is to craft your resume according to its purpose. If it’s for a job opportunity, carefully review the description of the position and its responsibilities and qualifications. Make sure your resume reflects what the health provider is seeking in their own terms.

If you’re applying to a graduate program, comb through the institution’s admission page and program overview so you know what types of candidates the university is looking for. Then, provide that information in your resume.

When your goal is to transition from a mid-level position to the senior level or even the C-suite, you will be evaluated first and foremost by your experience and aptitude as it relates to the particular opportunity. In this instance, it’s crucial to demonstrate your value where possible. This value could pertain to a specific project or key strategic decisions you influenced. You should also highlight what impact you made in your last position when describing your professional work experience and performance.

Follow the lead information on your resume with a chronological listing of your work experience. All things being equal, the more recent roles and achievements are considered most applicable and noteworthy — and should therefore be allotted a little more space. When building out your work experience, you should begin each segment of your executive work history with a description of your responsibilities, followed by several bullet points highlighting your contributions.

Download the How to Write a Resume Like a Healthcare Executive Guide

3. Choose the Best Resume Length

You should always strive to make your CV or resume two pages in length. Three pages can be acceptable, but only if you feel that detailing your experience and telling your best story can’t be accomplished in two pages. Conversely, condensing your resume down to one page may feel like the right move, but doing so would likely require you to omit notable details or achievements that would differentiate you from other candidates.

You should be concise with your information as you build your resume, but don’t omit anything pertinent. When reviewing your resume, delete superfluous information and only keep details that are relevant to the job description or graduate program you’re applying to.

4. Quantify Your Accomplishments

Health care, in some ways, is a numbers game. This is particularly true in health care administration, where questions regarding the cost effectiveness of everything from quality care to pharmacy expenses falls under consideration.

If your existing job role is on the numbers side of health care in the form of accounting, billing, management or human resources, then using numbers to quantify your accomplishments will present a strong case to the person reviewing your resume.

If quantifying your impact is challenging, or you work directly with patients, clearly describe what you have accomplished, the outcomes you have achieved and any tangible benefits you brought to your position.

5. Choose the Best Words for Your Health Care Resume

A candidate’s professional experience is the most important factor in determining the success of an application. Yet how you write a resume — specifically the words you choose to convey why you’re qualified — also plays a crucial role. Therefore, you should be mindful of a few elements when you sit down and compose your health care resume.

The first strategy is to use action verbs whenever possible. Write descriptive resume phrases beneath your current or past work experience, and begin sentences with action verbs to make your resume come alive. These will give depth to your experiences and characteristics. Words such as motivated, optimized, pioneered, negotiated, and delegated imply leadership qualities. Words like supported, prompted, and trained imply teamwork-driven characteristics.

Second, avoid repetition. Take care not to repeat any words too often or else they’ll lose their impact. However, this doesn’t mean any synonym will work. If you’re having a difficult time finding descriptive, action-oriented words, consider other projects you contributed to, decisions you fought for or roles you held.

Additionally, take care to use the proper tense throughout your resume. When you’re describing your role, responsibilities and contributions from your current job, write in the present tense. When you’re tailoring previous work experiences on your resume to reflect the responsibilities of the opportunity you’re currently applying for, write in the past tense.

6. Proofread Before Submitting

Potential employers and master’s programs are looking for candidates who are well spoken and well written. Making grammatical mistakes in your resume will significantly dampen your chances of being accepted.

When you proofread, make sure fonts and formatting are consistent, and check for spelling and grammar. Read your resume aloud, which may help you identify errors your eyes have missed. Finally, ask colleagues, family members or friends to proofread your resume.

Elevate Your Career

A powerful, well-crafted, professional resume can help you stand out among other candidates and get you through to the next round of consideration. A strong resume could be the crucial element that leads you to the next phase of your professional career.

With a curriculum that focuses on disciplines including economics and finance, health care regulation, organizational design and information management, USC’s Executive Master of Health Administration (MHA) program offers the knowledge and skills to help you stand out among the crowd.

Discover how USC’s MHA can help you become one of tomorrow’s health care leaders.


Recommended Readings

Executive Master of Health Administration Online: Program Overview and Student Spotlight

Leadership in Health Care: How to Advance Into the Hospital C-Suite

6 Examples of Health Disparities and Potential Solutions



American College of Healthcare Executives, Career Resource Center

Indeed, The Healthcare Resume: Definition, How-to and Examples

Indeed, 25 Leadership Words to Use on Your Resume

LinkedIn, How to Develop a Strong Healthcare Executive Resume

My Perfect Resume, Hospital Administrator CV Example & Writing Tips, Questions, and Salaries

Resume Now, Healthcare Management Resume Example

University of Southern California, How to Write a Resume Like a Health Care Executive