Resumes and Cover Letters
Even though it’s easy to use a template, carefully customize your resume. Taking the time to match your experience to the job will give you the best chance of getting chosen for an interview.
Keep It Simple and Concise
When picking out a template to use, choose a simple template that’s easy to edit and format. Fancy formatting and fonts may get lost when you upload or email your resume document. A basic resume is also easier for the hiring manager to read.
Your resume doesn’t need to include everything you ever did. If you have a lengthy employment history, you don’t need to include it all. Employers typically don’t expect to see more than 10-15 years of work experience on a resume. Try to keep the resume no longer than one page. Make the document unique to you and the job. Customize to emphasize your experience to the job description. Be sure to change all the information in the template so that the finished document is specific to you and your skills. It should include:
- Full Name
- City, State, Zip (No street address needed)
- Phone / Email
Research states the summary should be between 90 and 100 words in length and that the objective should be approximately 30 words long.
History & Proficiency
Don’t Get Too Personal
Information on your resume should NOT include your photograph. date of birth, street address (use only city, state, and zip code), nationality, marital status, social media profiles, or hobbies.
Generally, any additional information beyond your contact info has no place in a modern resume.
There are three main reasons why your resume is destined for the trash can.
- Length – Many candidates write 3+ pages of boring work experience. Three or more pages is too many. 1-2 pages is the ideal length, with ONE page being optimal.
- Irrelevant content – Many candidates put so much information on their resume that most of it is unrelated to the requirements for the job. This in turn dilutes the effectiveness of your resume because it’s harder for interviewers to sort the relevant experience from the non-relevant.
- Zest – Without adding some zest to your resume, you look like everyone else: boring.
Research found that keywords that imply management skills, problem-solving abilities and a proactive stance toward working were associated with the highest ratings. These are some specific “power keywords” that can increase the chances of getting the job:
Pinpointed words that correlated with low ratings:
While job seekers shouldn’t bend over backward to remove these words from their resume – there’s nothing inherently wrong with the words themselves – what they should do is avoid the sentiments these words are often used to convey. That may be the impression that a candidate is self-centered, inexperienced, in need of a great deal of training or put off by hard work.
Phrases like “value-add,” “results-driven,” “team player,” “strategic thinker” and “detail-oriented” should be avoided. Other phrases widely disliked were “problem-solving,” “strategic thinker,” “think outside the box,” “go-getter,” “team player,” “unique,” “dynamic” and “self-motivated.”
Include a Cover Letter
It all starts with the cover letter. A cover letter is the first chance you have to impress an employer. Be polite and display confidence that you’ll get the job done. Specifically, the phrase “thank you for your consideration”.
New Graduates: How to Ask for References
Think back to instructors you have a close relationship with. Even if you no longer see them, an email would suffice. State you are applying for jobs now that graduation is looming. Ask them if they would feel comfortable in writing a short recommendation letter on your behalf to use for your job application. Let them know you would really appreciate their consideration! AND after you receive the letter, of course a THANK YOU response is appropriate.
The higher the admin level, the better it looks. It does not matter what the format of the letter is (hard copy/email). Try to get at least 2!
Career Coach Review
Contact ASNA’s Career Coach, Bridget Stevens, for a free review and feedback.
INTERVIEWS: FACE TO FACE
Practice. Practice might not make perfect, but it does help you make a good impression. Review the interview questions that employers most frequently ask and think about how you’ll answer them.
Wear appropriate interview attire. It can be really awkward if you show up at a job interview overdressed—or underdressed. Always dress appropriately for an interview so you make the best first impression.
Interview Appearance tips:
- Wear closed-toed shoes!
- Light Perfume/cologne, if any.
- No skirt or dress too short. Pants are acceptable.
- Men wear socks.
Don’t go into the interview without knowing anything. Take the time to research the organization, so you know as much as possible about it. That way you’ll be prepared to answer questions about what you know about the company.
Get the inside scoop. Besides researching the organization, see if you can get some inside information on the company and its employees. Check LinkedIn, Facebook, and any professional networks to see insider information.
- Know number of beds in each unit and facility
- Profit or Non-Profit
- Level of Trauma
- Offered services
Review the job posting. Know as much as you can about the job. Review the job posting and know what the employer is looking for in the person they hire. Also, take a look at your cover letter and resume, so you are clear about what you can offer the employer.
Body Language IS important:
- No tugging at clothing (Men, do NOT keep adjusting tie).
- No fidgeting or kicking feet.
- Unfold arms and hands.
- Look interviewer directly in eyes.
Here are 9 quick tips to help get you prepared for phone interviews:
- Be enthusiastic: Some people find it helps to smile while they talk. Use a land line if possible because cell phone can be noisy. Interruptions caused by dropped or incoming calls just add stress you don’t need.
- Have a list of questions prepared: Well-thought-out questions show you’re really interested in the company and the job. Also, have your resume in front of you. Make sure it’s the same version the interviewer has.
- Never interrupt: Silently count to two or three seconds after the interviewer stops talking before you start.
- Ask about next steps: At the end of the call, ask how well your qualifications meet the company’s needs. This will give you a chance to address minor issues immediately. Then ask when you can meet with them in person.
- Say thanks: Follow up with an e-mail. While you’re at it, briefly remind the interviewer how your skills and achievements can help the company meet its goals.
- Eat a cough drop before the call: A medicated cough drop, especially one with menthol will be good for your voice. It’s a small but helpful thing.
- Avoid saying “um” or “ah”: Try replacing those sounds with a pause, which is a sign of intelligence.
- Take notes: Jot down topics and questions that seem to be of particular interest to the person interviewing you, so you can touch on these when you send thank-you note.
- Even if you decide you don’t want the job, proceed as if you did: You never know whom you might meet at in-person interviews, and what networking opportunities could result. And lastly, you will need to be prepared for interview questions because they are going to ask you all sorts of tricky phone interview questions.
How to Answer Those Tough Interview Questions
“Tell us about yourself?” Get ready. This is time to use your “Elevator Pitch”.
What’s an elevator pitch, and how can it help? An elevator pitch – also known as an elevator speech – is a quick synopsis of your background and experience. The reason it’s called an elevator pitch is that it should be short enough to present during a brief elevator ride. This speech is all about you: who you are, what you do, and what you want to do (if you’re job hunting). Your elevator pitch is a way to share your expertise and credentials quickly and effectively with people who don’t know you.
When and How to Use an Elevator Speech
If you’re job searching, you can use your elevator pitch at job fairs and career expos, and online in your LinkedIn summary or Twitter bio, for example. An elevator speech is a great way to gain confidence in introducing yourself to hiring managers and company representatives. You can also use your elevator pitch to introduce yourself at networking events and mixers. If you’re attending professional association programs and activities, or any other type of gathering, have your pitch ready to share with those you meet.
Your elevator pitch can be used during job interviews, especially when you’re asked about yourself. Interviewers often begin with the question, “Tell me about yourself” — think of your elevator pitch as a super-condensed version of your response to that request.
Your elevator speech should be brief. Restrict the speech to 30-60 seconds. You don’t need to include your entire work history and career objectives. Your pitch should be a short recap of who you are and what you do.
You need to be persuasive. Even though it’s a short pitch, your elevator speech should be compelling enough to spark the listener’s interest in your idea, organization, or background.
Share your skills: Your elevator pitch should explain who you are and what qualifications and skills you have. Try to focus on assets that add value in many situations. This is your chance to brag a bit — avoid sounding boastful, but do share what you bring to the table.
Practice, practice, practice. The best way to feel comfortable about giving an elevator speech is to practice it until the speed and “pitch” come naturally, without sounding robotic. You will get used to varying the conversation as you practice doing so. The more you practice, the easier it will be to deliver it when you’re at a career networking event or job interview. Practice giving your speech to a friend or recording it. This will help you know whether you’re keeping within the time limit and giving a coherent message.
Be positive and flexible. You often aren’t interviewing for a specific position when you deliver your pitch, so you want to appear open-minded and flexible. Don’t lead with the stuff you’d rather not be doing. (For example, if you don’t want to travel a lot for work, that’s completely legitimate – but you needn’t volunteer that information right off the bat.) This is your chance to make a great first impression with a potential employer. Don’t waste it.
Mention your goals. You don’t need to get too specific. An overly targeted goal isn’t helpful since your pitch will be used in many circumstances, and with many different types of people. But do remember to say what you’re looking for. For instance, you might say, “a night Med Surg position that I can advance to Director role” or “an opportunity to apply my education and skills in Labor and Delivery”.
What Not to Say and Do During Your Elevator Speech:
Don’t speak too fast. Yes, you only have a short time to convey a lot of information. But don’t try to fix this dilemma by speaking quickly. This will only make it hard for listeners to absorb your message.
Avoid rambling. This is why it’s so important to practice your elevator speech. While you don’t want to over-rehearse, and subsequently sound stilted, you also don’t want to have unfocused or unclear sentences in your pitch or get off-track. Give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to interject or respond.
Don’t frown or speak in a monotone way. Here’s one of the downsides to rehearsing: it can leave you more focused on remembering the exact words you want to use, and less on how you’re carrying yourself. Keep your energy level high, confident, and enthusiastic.
Modulate your voice to keep listeners interested, keep your facial expression friendly, and smile.
Don’t restrict yourself to a single elevator pitch. Maybe you’re interested in pursuing two fields — public relations and content strategy. Many of your communication skills will apply to both those fields, but you’ll want to tailor your pitch depending on who you are speaking to. You may also want to have a more casual, personal pitch prepared for social settings.
KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET: Your elevator speech is a sales pitch. Be sure you can deliver your message in 60 seconds or less.
FOCUS ON THE ESSENTIALS: Say who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve.
BE POSITIVE AND PERSUASIVE: Your time is limited. Focus on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do. Be upbeat and flexible.
Sample Interview Questions: Behavioral or competency-based interviews are a set of questions that ask you to talk about examples from your past work experience to help an interviewer figure out your strengths. Behavioral interviewers will look for the three parts (Problem, Action, Results) of your answer and take notes about how you answered the question. These are also known as STAR interview questions. STAR stands for:
The first thing you want to do when answering a behavioral question is describe a work-related situation or task that you needed to accomplish, and you want to be concise.Then describe the action you took. Don’t tell them what you might do or would do, you need to tell them what you did. And finally, describe what happened — the result. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? How much time or money did you save? And most importantly does your result solve the problem you described in step 1? That’s the formula for answering any behavioral question.
“What do you consider your most significant weaknesses?”
- Don’t feel the need to reveal deep character flaws. Tell the interviewer you have a few faults that you are working to improve and then give a few examples.
- A good way to turn this question around and turn a weakness into a strength is the best way to answer this question.
- Don’t tell the interviewer that you have a problem; though we all have something wrong with us, but don’t come right out and say it as it will sound like a weakness and a reason not to hire you.
- Example: “I pay close attention to details which does result in a higher quality of work and saves additional time down the road, though it does take more time up front and sometimes overtime.”
“What do you consider your most significant strengths?”
- Prepare yourself and make sure you can rattle off three to five of your job-related strengths.
- “I have a solid background in Labor and Delivery and exceptional patient repour and I get things done with little direction.”
- “I have great communication skills and can work with many different types of people of varying personalities and skill levels. I am motivated, disciplined, and focused and am determined to get my job done well and on time.
Finish strong and leaving a lasting impression! An interview is a two-way street. Your potential employer is asking you questions to learn about you and your skills. In return, you need to prepare questions to ask your potential employer about the position, your boss, and the company in order to be sure that this is the right job for you. In addition, if you don’t prepare smart questions, you run the risk of the interviewer assuming you aren’t interested or haven’t prepared.
Your opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. You must prepare at least two questions that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (researched company, industry, department).
So how do you come up with these smart questions that show you’re the perfect hire? As you conduct your pre-interview research, make note of topics that you’d like to ask about. Keep in the mind that the best questions to ask are focused, open-ended question.
Pro Tip: Avoid yes or no questions and avoid questions that are so broad that they are difficult to answer. You don’t want to stump the interviewer when you’re trying to make a good impression and develop rapport.
- “Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?”
- This is your chance to learn as much as possible about the role so you can decide whether this is a job you really want. By learning more about the day-to-day tasks, you will also gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths are needed and you can address any topics that haven’t already been covered.
- “What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?”
- This question can often lead to valuable information that’s not in the job description. It can help you learn about the company culture and expectations so you can show that you are a good fit.
- “What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?”
- Find out what your employer’s expectations are for the person in this position.
- “Where do you think the hospital is headed in the next 5 years?”
- If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the hospital is growing so you can grow with the company. Are there any benefits paid to educational advancement?
- “What are the biggest obstacles and opportunities facing the hospital/department right now?”
- This question shows your drive to seize the opportunity and may help you learn more about where the hospital will be focusing over the next several months.
- “What are the biggest challenges facing the hospital/department right now?”
- On the flip side, you may want to ask about challenges. This question can help you uncover trends and issues in the industry and perhaps identify areas where your skills could save the day.
- “What do you like best about working for this hospital?”
- Ask about your interviewer’s personal experience for additional insight into the hospital’s culture.
- “What is the typical career path for someone in this role?”
- This question can help you learn whether the hospital promotes from within, and how career advancement works within the organization. By asking the question, you show your interest in growing with the organization — just be careful not to phrase it in a way that sounds too self-serving (i.e. When can I expect a raise and a promotion?).
- “How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this role?”
- This is a slightly risky choice, but I appreciate this question! You don’t want to put the interviewer in an awkward position. However, if things are going well and you’ve built a strong rapport, this question can help you see if there are any concerns or issues that you could address to show why you’re the best person for the job.
- “What are the next steps in the interview process?”
- This question shows that you are eager to move forward in the process. It will also help you gain important information about the timeline for hiring so that you can follow up appropriately.
Remember: Don’t ask about salary or benefits just yet. Wait until you are in the final steps of the interview process to negotiate.