Easy fixes for your optometric resume

June 10, 2022
AOAExcel talks with Chelsea Page of Covenant Physician Partners to find easy ways to improve your resume and cover letter to get the position you want.
Man in red shirt sitting at desk writing in notepad

When doctors of optometry are putting together resumes and cover letters, sometimes so much effort is put into getting the big things right, that little things often fall through the cracks.  Those little mistakes can cause a poor reflection on your resume and/or cover letter.  We spoke with a professional who reviews hundreds of ODs resumes and cover letters every year, Chelsea Page, Manager of Physician & APP Recruitment at Covenant Physician Partners, to discuss easy fixes to check before contacting a potential employer.

To start with, we asked Chelsea what are the most common mistakes that she sees on ODs resumes.  Besides grammatical errors, Chelsea said one of the most common mistakes is formatting errors.  “We advise prioritizing your most recent experiences and key accomplishments.”  She adds “Make sure you are including dates so there is a clear chronological order to your story.”  Chelsea also advises applicants to emphasize what you have achieved in each experience rather than including a general job description.

On the topic of formatting, we wanted to know the importance of the very first sentence of your cover letter — what is an effective way to make it stand out from other optometrists and grab attention?  Chelsea says “Your introduction should convey authenticity, enthusiasm, and highlight your qualifications as an OD.” She offers this helpful tip as well: “If you feel stuck on the first sentence, try developing a passion or purpose statement that describes your motivations or explains the “why” behind what you are doing.”

ODs tend to be perfectionists, but inevitably, despite your best efforts, a typo or error may still slip through undetected.  We asked Chelsea if this was necessarily a dealbreaker.  “Although a typo here and there is not a deal breaker, too many errors may negatively affect your chances” she responded.  “Organizations may utilize tools with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and  machine learning in their application process to pre-screen and sort candidates to their jobs” she continued. “When reviewed by an employer, these errors could leave a poor impression and your application drowned out by a pool of applicants.”  She recommends using software to reduced spelling errors or use a career service or a trusted friend who is good at proofing.

ODs in particular want to avoid having their cover letter be a complete rehash of their resume.  It can be a challenge to take an ODs skills and accomplishments that are listed on their resume and not restate it on the cover letter.  While some repetition is to be expected, Chelsea does offer some tips.  “It may be helpful to write your resume first.  Consider your passion statement or motivations for “why?” then write a cover letter expanding on one to two key details that are reflective in your resume.  This will help tie your story together and set your phone interview up for success.”  Chelsea also warns to tailor each cover letter to each position you apply for. “Employers are keen to recognize candidates that demonstrate their understanding of the organization and how to positively contribute to their practice.”

Lastly, candidates can struggle with trying to make themselves stand out from other qualified ODs.  Chelsea advises to research the organization and leverage your strengths. “Although completing a top optometric program or graduating top in your class is certainly impressive, employers are more interested in learning your unique set of abilities that could directly make a positive impact on a practice”.  To further make an impression, she adds “If you can identify an area the practice wishes to improve or expand, this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate you are the right candidate for the position”.

After you’ve made your fixes to your resume, visit the AOAExcel Career Center, which puts your resume directly in front of hiring managers and practice owners looking for ODs like you.  It’s the only career center associated with the AOA and is available at no cost to you.  In addition to searching for open positions, you can search for career advice, discover salaries and benefits, and so much more.

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