So you’ve gone through training, received your certifications, and now it’s time to pound the pavement and look for a job. The good news for you (and perhaps not so good news for others) is that EMS jobs in many areas undergo an above average employee turnover and if you can make yourself stand out as an attractive candidate, you may be able to land a position in a short period of time. Putting together a good EMT resume is crucial to ensuring that you make a good first impression on a hiring manager for any of the openings you apply for.
Having been in the hiring seat, I can tell you that when 100 resumes come in for a job opening, you have around 10 seconds to make that first impression and tell the hiring manager exactly why your resume needs to go into the “short-list” stack. In this article, we’re going to discuss a few key areas where resumes fall flat and how you can put together an EMT resume that helps you stand out in the crowd.
After listing your personal details, the first section of the resume that provides the hiring manager with any real insight into what type of employee you might be is the career objective. I’ve seen far too many job candidates provide boilerplate responses in the career objective section of a resume. Some have even neglected to modify the objective for the specific industry which relates to the opening they’re applying for. What type of impression do you think it makes if you send your resume to an EMS agency with a career objective that states that you are seeking to use your leadership skills to become one of the top managers in the retail office supply industry? To me it says that you’re too lazy to spend a couple of hours honing your resume to demonstrate that you’re interested in my job opening and that you’ll likely be just as lazy in providing patient care as an EMT.
Keep the career objective statement to one sentence and use it to briefly convey that you are committed to quality patient care, continual professional development, and improving the overall quality of care in the system you’d be working within. You might also want to use phrases like “long-term” or “career-minded” to communicate that you’re not a frequent job hopper.
Summary of Qualifications
As with in any career field, an EMT resume needs to illustrate that you are fully professionally qualified and certified to apply for the opening. You should lead out the summary of qualifications section with your current certification credentials. This can include your current EMS certification level (for example, “Certified EMT-Basic by the State of Colorado”. You can also use this area to list other professional emergency medical certifications you’ve picked up that may not be implied for your certification level. By implied, I simply mean that as an EMT-B, it should be understood that you are already certified in CPR or BLS, but if there are credentials beyond what you should have gained during your initial training course, be sure to list them out in order to show your commitment to continuing professional development.
This is also the section in which you should list and describe personal skills which will relate to your success as an EMT (see the article Essential Personal Traits for EMS Success for some ideas of what might be suitable). Are you detailed and organized? Do you consider yourself a natural leader? Do you have examples of proven experiences such as volunteer commitments that back these up? The qualifications section of your resume is your chance to use a few bulleted points to provide a quick visual impression that you’re the right person for the job.
This is another area of the resume which can stop you cold in your tracks if you don’t take some time to craft the information so that it relates to the EMS industry. As a hiring manager, if I have chosen to stay on a candidate’s resume this long, I want to know exactly what real world professional situations you’ve been in and how they relate to the job you want now. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need experience as an EMT listed in your professional history. If you’re applying for EMT-B openings, many of the candidates will not have experience in the field. It’s how you phrase your past experiences and demonstrate how these will apply to your success in EMS that counts.
If you have past experience as an EMT, that’s great. You should be prepared to list out your specific duties and how you were effective in your position. However, if you’re new to the field and all of your past work history has been in positions that are not related to health care, you can still cull the most important qualities that you developed through working in other industries that will make you a good EMT. Again, check out the article on EMT personality traits for more of what you can extract from past work experience that would serve you well in patient care.
You’ll also want to use positive, descriptive, and impactive words when referring to your past duties. Don’t just say that one of your responsibilities was to “Communicate with staff and employees”, state that your role was to “Effectively communicate with staff and employees to increase inter-departmental efficiencies”. In the latter, you have not only let the hiring manager know that you were responsible for communicating important information to staff and employees, but that you did it well and that it had an impact on the overall success of the organization. These subtle changes present you as a motivated employee with the organization’s best interests in mind and says that you were showing up for more than just a paycheck.
At the end of your EMT resume, you should be listing all past and current education experiences. However, the mistake that I see too many applicants making is pure information overload in this section. While you should certainly be proud of your accomplishments, there is a reason we typically place education last on a resume. You’re being hired for your personal skills and the quality of work you will provide on the job. Keep your educational accomplishments brief and don’t include redundant information in this section. For example, if you’re going to be listing that you attended high school, two years of college, and then an accredited EMT-Basic training program, there’s no need to list out all of the hours that you accumulated in the classroom, psychomotor, and clinical phases of your program. That’s a bit like stating that you attended high school and learned algebra along the way; it’s implied by your level of education.
Also, if you are including educational institutions that assign grades, listing things like your GPA can be a turnoff unless you’ve been an absolute 4.0 all-star. I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve seen that boast of a 3.2 overall grade point average. While I was no Rhodes scholar, listing that you’ve maintained a 3.2 GPA during your studies is akin to saying that you want to make sure the hiring manager knows that you’re a solid B+ student.
When crafting your EMT resume, pay special attention to these four key areas and be sure that you tailor your experiences and qualifications to illustrate that you’ll be an effective responder and you’ll be on your way to making the short-stack on the hiring manager’s desk.