No matter how fantastic your professional website or how organized your LinkedIn page is, you’ve still go to write a paper resume.
At Vision Expo East 2018, Matt Geller, OD and CEO of CovalentCareers, Inc., sat down with Cameron Faylor, Director of Eyecare Talent Requisition for CovalentCareers, Inc., and Patricia Fulmer, OD, to discuss tips for optometrists—students or practicing OD—who might be crafting or updating their resumes. Geller also gave us a walkthrough of CovalentCareers’s resume analysis tool, ResumeRobot!
What are the most important elements of a job application?
“What kind of position are you really applying for?” asks Faylor. For some positions, you don’t always need a cover letter. Still, says Fulmer, “if you’re questioning, should I, or should I not for this position? It’s always better to do one, and not need it, than to not do one and them expect it.”
Building an optometrist resume and keeping it simple while also getting your point across?
After all, your resume is your first chance to wow a potential employer. On your resume, you absolutely need your contact information, your skills, your experience, and your education. “I think it’s absolutely fine to say references available on request,” says Fulmer. And a lot of that simply has to do with checking work history, not asking for recommendations.
“You don’t want to leave anything out,” says Faylor. Sometimes this means that entries in your list of work experience will be longer, but one way to avoid that is to make sure to edit your resume for the particular opportunity. “If you’re going for an opportunity in ocular disease, then you want to focus on everything that you did in your previous positions, rotations, school, everything that has to do with that.”
“Thoroughness is absolutely key,” says Fulmer, “but be concise with what you’re putting.” Hiring managers are likely sorting through multiple resumes, and if you can keep your communication short and to the point, you’re more likely to make an impact on a recruiter.
Of course, a resume is different from a CV, which can be extremely long.
“The longest that I’ve ever seen was 45 pages,” says Faylor. “That’s where you want to go and put everything that you’ve ever done in your career—in your CV.” And every time you do something new—lecture, publish, and so on—add it to your CV.
The resume, on the other hand, should be 1-2 pages, and additions should be carefully chosen. But a good strategy for writing a resume, Fulmer suggests, is writing as much as possible—and then editing it back down. That way, you can identify your most important experience, and figure out how to emphasize what experience makes you stand out.
What are some things to avoid when building an optometrist resume?
“If it doesn’t look clean, don’t send it,” says Fulmer. Excessive design is unnecessary, as well, but make sure that the formatting, margins, and so on are well-organized. A hiring manager is going to be reviewing hundreds of resumes, and a sloppy one can mean an instant rejection in many cases.
“Second thing, that’s equally as important: please check your spelling! It sounds so simple, but I can’t tell you how many resumes we would get!” Fulmer says. “They probably were good candidates, but if they’re not going to take the time and attention to detail on their resume . . . why would I hire them? Because they’re probably not going to bring that attention to detail to the practice, either.”
“Contact information! Accurate contact information!” Fulmer exclaims. “And a voicemail set up when you do call that number.” It’s understandable for a candidate to not answer the phone to an unknown number, particularly in our age of phone spam, but you absolutely need to have a voicemail inbox and message that identifies you by name, and has room for your potential employer to leave a message. “I’ve gone into that so many times, I honestly can’t count,” says Faylor. “If you want somebody to call you back, we have to be able to leave a message, we have to be able to contact you—that is the most important information.”
“I think it’s perfectly fine to say preferred method of contact, and to have multiple on there,” says Fulmer. But your contact information needs to be accurate and reliable.
What’s the worst resume you’ve ever seen?
“I saw one that was just so overdone—multiple pages, photographs, quotes—thinking that it was going to push the person in the right direction, and ultimately it made them look silly,” says Geller.
“I love the ones you get where they’ve been somewhere for six months, and they’ve listed all these jobs, they have all this experience, but they were there for six months at each one of them,” jokes Fulmer. “Why would I hire you? You’re going to be here for six months!”
Faylor laughs, “I’ve honestly viewed probably over a million resumes in my life, and the one that always makes me chuckle is the fast food person who wants to be an optometrist, because they don’t understand you have to be a doctor.”
What do employers look for in resumes?
“I personally think it has to do with revenue and growth,” says Geller. Writing about your ability to drive revenue or growth in a practice will absolutely set you apart from the crowd.
The cover letter is a good place to expand on items in your resume, says Fulmer. That’s where you can tell potential employers why you’re the perfect candidate for the position. The cover letter tells your story.
“Most doctors’ resumes are very similar,” says Faylor. “Being able to stand out that way is a little more difficult than with your cover letter.” In a resume, you can demonstrate your history of creating growth in your previous positions, and in your cover letter, you can refer to that while discussing why and how you’ll create growth at this new position.
With a summary, you’re trying to distill your experience into one to two sentences. “It comes down to being true to yourself,” says Faylor. “You don’t want to come off as a fake person. So if there’s something that you’re proud of, then put it on there.”
What are the major tips you’d give optometrists about crafting a great resume?
“I think you should always approach it like you’re one of fifteen,” says Fulmer. “Assume that you’re up against fifteen, thirty people, and make yourself stand apart that way.”
It’s important to remember that hiring is a very subjective process. It’s useful to organize your resume chronologically, since it’s easiest for your employer to parse: after all, your resume will be read by a hiring manager or recruiter who is probably going through hundreds of these documents. Remembering that number can help guide your resume crafting process.
“That’s the way that I would look at it,” agrees Faylor. “I think you have to be competitive in the way that you approach these jobs.”