Dear Sam: I am a healthcare professional planning to search for a new position. Enclosed you will find my admittedly out-of-date and poorly written resume! The problem I face is that I do basically the same thing no matter what setting I work in: I evaluate and treat patients with healthcare problems. I have worked in a variety of settings—skilled nursing, long-term care, hospital-based, home health, and adult MRDD—but, as an occupational therapist, I do the same thing from place to place. How can I redesign my resume to make it look more current, as well as highlight my talents/skills? – Michelle

Dear Michelle: Fantastic question! It is not uncommon for me to hear that candidates struggle to differentiate very similar, if not identical, positions on their resumes. There are two ways you can go about creating your resume.

Option 1: If your roles really are so similar that there would be significant redundancy in presenting each role back-to-back, consider presenting all of the OT positions in a group. To do this, note the employers and years you worked with each, followed by your one title and a full description of your roles and how you added value throughout the years. In essence, this will look just like a traditional employment section, but multiple employers will be grouped together.

Option 2: While your job descriptions may have been identical, were you able to contribute value in different ways with different employers? If this is the case then I would keep your engagements separated on your resume, present a brief overview of the job—perhaps differentiating based on the environment you worked in, the number of beds, the types of patients served, etc.—and then leverage your accomplishments to differentiate each experience.

When evaluating the options, the second would be preferable as it is important to show a potential employer how you can add value beyond what is expected. By focusing on the different ways you were able to do this with each employer, you will create a value-based resume that, while your positions have been quite similar, really engages the reader and tells them how your career and candidacy developed through the years. Best of luck to you!

Dear Sam: I am so worried about the potential of my job search. I have been applying for jobs on a daily basis with no success. I think my background is marketable, so I am perplexed as to why I never get a call for an interview. I offer 10+ years of accounting experience in addition to several years of experience as a controller which included team leadership, operations management, and IT oversight. Based on these experiences, I am applying for staff accountant, managing accountant, and controller roles which, to me, do not seem like too much of a stretch. Is the market just so saturated that I need to figure out a “Plan B?” Help! — Adrian

Dear Adrian: It’s not time to throw in the towel yet Adrian. You are completely qualified for the roles you are applying for; the problem is that your resume is underserving you. This is a very fortunate situation: your resume is not marketing your candidacy well so you really have no idea how the market will respond to a well-developed resume representing your candidacy in an optimal manner. It’s time to optimize “Plan A” not resort to “Plan B.”

You need to bring your resume up-to-date with today’s best practices in personal branding. You have continued to use the template I fear you used when you first started your career 20+ years ago and it just is not working. Today’s value-based resumes serve as self-promotion tools that communicate not only the scope of your roles—this is all your existing resume conveys—but also how you added value beyond expectations. This is really the key to presenting a value-based resume and a value-added candidacy. Start to consider how you excelled in your roles, how you went above and beyond your job descriptions, and what you would consider to be your key contributions. This is what you need to hang your hat on so to speak, and the key to an effective resume and successful job search. I urge you to review examples of best practices-based resumes on my website or other expert resources, re-engineer your resume, and re-launch what I am sure will be a much more successful search. Best of luck.