Updating Your Occupational Therapist Resume
In the spirit of spring when nature is awakening after a long winter, many healthcare professionals are evaluating their careers and deciding if they are on the right path or if, like the season, it is time for a change. When you’re ready to explore new opportunities for your Occupational Therapy career, then updating your resume is job number one.
The most important advice anyone can receive about their resume is, to be honest, and be accurate. As much as a hiring manager is looking for reasons to hire you, they are also looking for reasons to file your resume in the slush pile. The quickest way to ensure your resume hits the slush pile (or circular file) is to make spelling and grammatical errors. All of the fancy formattings in the world can’t save a resume that is filled with silly mistakes. Do yourself and the hiring manager a favor and proofread your resume several times. Then when you are certain that you found every mistake, have a friend read it over.
Now that you are prepared to present an accurate resume let’s talk about the components that should be included to help your resume stand out above the others.
Length: Unless you are the most accomplished and experienced OT in the world, try to keep your resume to two pages or less, because typically that is all a hiring manager is going to look at anyway! Always include your name at the top of your second page. If you are recently graduated or still new to the profession, a one-page resume will suffice.
Open with a Summary: One of the biggest mistakes a resume writer can make is to waste an opportunity to introduce themselves to the hiring manager. When you open up your resume up with a “cookie-cutter” Objective: To find meaningful employment as an Occupational Therapist for a progressive blah, blah, blah, blah. Instead, open up with a summary that introduces who you are and what you can do for the organization. For example: A results-oriented and passionate occupational therapy professional with 5 years’ experience providing assessments and creating patient-centered treatment plans for patients in a high volume clinical setting.
Don’t bury your Licensure: Once you have introduced yourself through a summary statement, the next most important piece of information for the reader is your licensure. Never bury licensure and affiliation information at the bottom of your resume. Let them know right up front, so they have an interest in reading further.
Highlight Your Skills: A very popular component of professional resumes is a bulleted breakdown of relevant skills that you have. This is a visually appealing way of highlighting what skills you are bringing to the table on day one.
Now you can list your Professional Experience: If you have done a good enough job of selling yourself in the first half of your resume, then there is a good chance the hiring manager will take a look at your professional experience. When writing about where you have worked, it is important to give the reader a sense of what you did through the use of action statements. Think of things you established, successes you had, or changes you may have implemented. The fact of the matter is that they already know what an OT’s typical duties are and are more interested in finding out what makes you a better OT than the next resume in the pile.
Education and Closing: After listing your professional experience and highlighting your accomplishments, you can list your education. If you are recently graduated, and your GPA is 3.5 or above, it is a good idea to include it. If you have three or more years of experience, it isn’t necessary to include your GPA any longer. By this point, your experience is more important. Lastly, do not include your references at the end of your resume. If the hiring manager is interested enough, they will ask you for them at the appropriate time. Instead, if there is space at the bottom of the page, you can always list additional skills, training, or affiliations you may have that demonstrate your interests and personality.
Once you have completed your resume, it is time to proofread it. Then, proofread it again before passing it along to a friend for a final set of fresh eyes on it. A final piece of advice for the next time you decide to explore new opportunities is don’t wait to update your resume. It is a good idea to revisit your resume every year to make sure you are identifying important accomplishments that belong in your resume. Many times, under the crunch of updating a resume, we forget about things that we’ve accomplished, and they never make it to the final copy. These omissions might be just the thing that causes you to miss out on your dream job.
If you want a template for your resume that contains all of the elements we’ve discussed, click here. Feel free to share your OT resume tips in the comment section below, or share them on our Facebook page.