Crafting a standout public health resume is an essential part of job hunting. A candidate’s resume can determine whether they receive a job interview. To make a good first impression, job seekers must catch an employer’s attention with their resume. Resumes should clearly outline how the professional’s experience, accomplishments, and skills make them an ideal candidate for the position.

Resumes are especially important for public health professionals, since public health is a competitive field with many qualified candidates. Job seekers can stand out by highlighting accomplishments and special skills on their resume.

  1. Do Your Research: Carefully read the job description and information about the organization before applying. Understand what the employer is looking for and whether the position requires certain skills, certifications, or experience. Tailor your public health resume to each position for which you apply. Highlight your relevant strengths based on skills required for the job. Also, use your research to decide if the job is right for you before applying.
  2. Write Down the Key Points: Before writing your resume, organize your thoughts. Note key points you want to include, and create a short outline for your resume. Ensure your resume represents you as a strong candidate with relevant skills. Also, consider your weaknesses and how your strengths compensate for them.
  3. Format Your Resume: The final part of creating a resume is using design to craft a clear, concise, and attractive document. Use headers, boxes, and bullet points. Remember that hiring managers often look only briefly at each resume. A well-formatted and easy-to-read resume makes a good impression and increases a candidate’s chances of getting an interview. To get ideas, you can find effective public health resume samples online.

Types of Resumes

A resume is a snapshot of a candidate’s professional skills and accomplishments. The organization of resumes vary, but all resumes should include more than simple work history. A resume should highlight aspects that make a professional the best candidate for a position. The three most common types of resume formats are reverse-chronological, functional, and combination. The best type of public health resume depends on the individual’s work history and the position for which they are applying. For example, an effective entry-level public health resume looks different than that of a mid- or late-career professional.

Reverse-Chronological

This common type of resume presents the professional’s work history from newest to oldest experience. This type of resume is beneficial for individuals whose work history is in the same field, who have no gaps in their work history, and who want to illustrate their progressing career. Candidates with large gaps in their work history or who change jobs frequently should choose a different format.

Functional

A functional resume organizes work experience by relevance, regardless of when and where the experiences took place. This type of resume highlights the candidate’s most relevant skills and hides gaps in their work history. A functional resume is ideal for professionals who are changing fields but is not typically best for students or entry-level professionals, who usually lack experience.

Combination

This type of resume combines aspects of functional and reverse-chronological resumes. A combination resume typically begins with a summary of the candidate’s skills and qualifications and includes a section listing work experience in reverse-chronological order. A combination resume can highlight a well-developed set of skills.

Required vs. Preferred Qualifications

Job descriptions typically include both required and preferred qualifications. Required qualifications refer to skills that applicants must hold to be considered for the position. Preferred qualifications are skills an employer hopes to find in a candidate. Lacking preferred qualifications does not disqualify job seekers, but those with the preferred qualifications are at an advantage.

However, candidates with the preferred qualifications are not automatically selected. Sometimes, employers choose candidates without preferred qualifications who have more experience or who better fit the company’s culture. Candidates should include on their resume the required and preferred qualifications they meet. Although meeting required qualifications is important, job seekers can apply for positions for which they lack some of the required qualifications.

Education and Training

A resume should include the candidate’s entire educational background, including degrees and training. For individuals who hold a master’s in public health, resumes should focus on education. Indicate your specific degree and your minor or concentration, if applicable. Candidates who wrote a thesis or dissertation should include its title, and applicants with a strong GPA can include it. Also note any academic awards. Individuals currently enrolled in an academic program can indicate that their degree is pending. Resume experts recommend omitting graduation dates to avoid age discrimination.

Experience

List relevant public health experience in reverse-chronological order. Include job titles, employment dates, employment locations, and job descriptions. Be specific about each position’s job duties, using positive adjectives and action verbs. Focus on your accomplishments, and highlight ways that you went above and beyond the job description. Candidates should emphasize job duties most relevant to the position for which they are currently applying. Be as concise and clear as possible, describing job duties using bulleted lists, rather than full sentences. Job seekers can also include unpaid public health internships, practicums, and field experiences in this section. Some professionals also include volunteer work in the experience section.

Skills

A resume should include a section listing special skills that supplement professional experience. Emphasize skills the employer requires or prefers. The type of skills commonly in demand for public health positions include those related to communication, technology, teamwork, languages, and critical thinking. Candidates can include their level of proficiency in each skill, if appropriate.

Licensure and Certifications

A public health resume should include public health licenses or certifications. Rather than using acronyms, list the full name of each certification. Include license numbers and expiration dates, if applicable. Professionals may also indicate how long they have held the license or certification. Those waiting to receive a license should note that it is pending.

Awards, Accomplishments, and Affiliations

Mention any public health-related awards, including those received from school, work, or volunteer organizations. Include the organization, place, and date for each award. This section should also include major accomplishments, such as successfully launching a public health initiative, and memberships in professional public health organizations, such as the American Public Health Association.

Volunteer Work

Include any volunteer work that is relevant to the public health field. Do not include volunteer positions unrelated to public health. If you lack extensive paid work experience in public health, consider including volunteer positions in the general experience section.

What Should I Put on My Resume If I Don’t Have Any Public Health Experience?

Students and recent graduates often lack paid work experience in the public health field. These candidates can stand out by focusing on their education, licenses, skills, and qualifications. Draw attention to these sections by listing them above work experience. Also include work experiences that are not entirely related to public health. Clarify how these unrelated jobs involved skills relevant to a public health position, emphasizing transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, analytical skills, organization, and attention to detail.

Job seekers can also list volunteer work experience, which many employers recognize to be as valuable as paid work experience. Candidates should demonstrate that, even if they do not have significant paid work experience in the field, they have education, relevant and transferable skills, and a strong work ethic.

What Is ATS?

Today, hiring organizations of all sizes use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to pre-filter resumes. An ATS is a resume-reading robot that scans resumes, looking for keywords and key phrases. After the ATS identifies the seemingly most qualified resumes, a human reviews them. Organizations that receive large numbers of resumes use these systems to save time. Although an ATS can help companies sort resumes more quickly, the system can negatively impact applicants. Job seekers who do not include the exact keywords and key phrases the ATS is programmed to look for may be disqualified, even if they are very qualified candidates.

Tips for Outsmarting an ATS

  • Simple Headers: Use simple headers for each section of your resume. An ATS looks for straightforward terms, such as “professional experience,” “skills,” and “education.”
  • Clean Format: Your resume should feature a simple layout and use basic, machine-readable fonts. Do not include any graphics, which an ATS cannot read.
  • Keywords and Key Phrases: Use keywords and phrases relevant to the position, such as “health policy,” “evaluation,” and “report writing.” Use exact words and phrases from the job description.
  • Industry-Specific Jargon: Demonstrate experience in public health by including targeted language used by professionals in the field. Use terms such as “health promotion,” “diverse populations,” and “community.”
  • Tailor Your Resume: Candidates should not submit the same resume each time they apply for a position. Instead, tailor your resume to highlight the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the particular opening.
  • Save Your Resume Under a Professional Name: When submitting a resume electronically, use a professional file name, such as “Firstlast_publichealth_resume.doc.”
  • Make Text Easy to Read: Use simple, traditional fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial, which are easy to read. Also, do not use too many font colors.
  • Include a Cover Letter: Always write a cover letter to accompany your resume, unless the job description explicitly says not to include cover letter.
  • Keep the Resume to One Page: Hiring managers prefer short, clear, and concise resumes. The ideal resume is about one page and includes only the most relevant and important details.

Common Mistakes Public Health Professionals Make on Their Resumes

  • Typos: Submitting a resume with typos gives a bad impression. A resume with typos makes the candidate seem sloppy, disorganized, and careless. Always proofread your resume.
  • Including Personal Information: Consider whether you should include extra personal information on your resume. For example, when candidates include their home address on their resume, some hiring managers may not offer an interview if they think the commute would be too far.
  • Including Salary Information: Do not include salary information on your resume. Including salary information looks unprofessional and reduces negotiating power if offered the job.
  • Using Nicknames: Avoid using nicknames on your resume. Including your full, proper name looks more professional. You can share your nickname after you’ve been hired.
  • Using an Unprofessional Email Address: Hiring managers may not take candidates with an unprofessional email address seriously. Create a professional email address, which should preferably comprise only your first and last name, at a major email provider.
  • First-Person Pronouns: Using first-person pronouns on a resume appears unprofessional. Use a formal, professional tone so hiring managers take you seriously.
  • Unprofessional Voicemail: When a hiring manager calls to offer an interview, they might reconsider if your voicemail greeting is too casual. Record a professional-sounding message to put your best foot forward.