You’ve seen the success stories; you want your own, and you absolutely should be getting paid and valued for what you are worth. Your resume is one of the most overlooked components of succeeding in not only the contracting world, but in your dream career you just saw pop up.
Straight out of High School, you were likely told that your resume should be one page, with a second page for some references. List your diploma and your college first, then start rattling off the various jobs you’ve worked and throw in some keywords like “goal-oriented, great in teams and working independently” and reference your strong work ethic.
This is useless.
You need a resume that distinguishes you from other candidates and gets you the job before you’ve even filled out the formal application.
Present the facts. They want to know if you are credentialed, have pertinent experience, and an eagerness for continuing your education beyond the minimum requirements.
You want the job, right? Let’s learn how to properly create a professional resume.
FILE NAMING - Editing and Formatting
Look at your resume before sending it to each employer.
Is it updated? Don't embarrass yourself with an expired CPR card on your resume.
A sloppy resume means a sloppy candidate.
Save your RESUME as a PDF File.
Do NOT send JPEG or WORD files.
Say a recruiter downloads your resume as a Word file and for whatever reason, it comes through reformatted as jumbled mess.
IT would laugh and say "It's not a glitch, it's a feature!"
Your recruiter says “Okay… *right clicks on file -DELETE-* …moving on.”
Save your files, as PDFs, and name them something like this:
On this subject, keep your resume and credentials on a portable hard drive or thumbstick with you whenever you are traveling and BITLOCKER protect/encrypt your hard drive from unauthorized eyes. Invest a few more bucks in a SSD (solid state drive) as they have no moving internal parts, which translates to them surviving much more reliably in austere environments and changing air pressures, such as cargo holds (but really, keep it in your carry-on).
Your heading should be at the top of every page on your resume, and it should include your name, address, email and phone number.
Example on a resume:
John “Jack” Smith
Chicago, IL 60601 USA – firstname.lastname@example.org – (312) 999-9999
Don't put your full mailing address on a CV, just show the general area of where you are living. This cleans it up, and your full mailing address only matters once you have a job offer and are completing paperwork for a background check and other HR matters.
CREDENTIALS / LICENSING
Have a section on your CV for your credentials. Don't just list "EMT" and "CPR". Remember that some agencies use programs that look for keywords, and if you forgot to put your NIMS 100, 200, 700, etc on your CV, that could be the reason you get missed.
Example on a resume:
NREMT (EMT) - National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
EMT-B (Basic) – Illinois
02/18/2007 – 01/31/2025
IS-20 Diversity Awareness IS-35 FEMA Safety Orientation IS-5 Intro to Hazardous Materials IS-144 TERT
IS-100 Incident Command System IS-106 Workplace Violence Awareness IS-200 ICS for Single Resources & Initial Action Incident IS-242 Effective Communication
Work experience should always start with the most recent job at the top, working backwards as you read down the page.
Experience should go back 5 to 10 years, as long as it is relevant and positive to the position you are seeking.
If you are new to the field and don’t have 5 to 10 years of experience, explain this. It’s okay to be new. The 15 year paramedic has 15 first years on the job.
Contract and temporary positions should always be clearly spelled out as such on your resume. Don’t let recruiters guess whether you can’t maintain employment at a desperate company that keeps hiring you back, or if you have worked multiple successful contracts with one company.
Briefly describe your general duties at each position. Don’t make a book out of it, use keywords (i.e. Logistics, Scheduling, Patient Care).
EXCLUDE UNRELATED AND UNATTRACTIVE BS
If it doesn't help your resume at all, keep it out. Who would you hire? The guy that has bounced around 3 ambulance companies in the same region in a 6 month period, or the guy that has a 6 month employment gap explained by “working on personal development and fulfillment while monitoring the job market”.
Any employment gaps of 6 months or more should always be fully explained.
Remember that you are here for a job you love, the quality of life you deserve, and the financial freedom that contracts and other lucrative jobs can empower you to have. The whole point is to not work until you die or are too old to enjoy the life your hard work was supposed to provide. When explained correctly, employment gaps are HEALTHY and ATTRACTIVE to the prospective employer. Imagine being able to use a long-distance hike to explain how your skills in logistics, perseverance and mental and physical health have grown, as you sit down in a panel interview for a first-out SAR team position, where you may be working independently in the same mountains you spent months hiking.
Example on a resume:
EMT-P, SAR Unit, HotAsbawls, TX, USA
08/2022--07/2023 [Contract Successfully Completed]
Employment Gap, Scheduled Time off to Hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine
EMT-P, COVID Field Hospital, Dustytown, NM, USA
11/2021--03/2022 [Contract Successfully Completed]
Employment Gap, Scheduled Time off for Preventative Physical and Mental Wellbeing,
EMT-P, COVID ICU, Somewhere, NY, USA,
09/2020--07/2021 [Contract Successfully Completed]
FINAL AND CRITICAL ADVICE
READ THE JOB DESCRIPTION, EVERY DAMN WORD.
If you haven’t worked in the field for which you are applying in the last 6 months, you may not be even looked at. Keep a per-diem job at home as a EMT, so that you can always have that verifiable and recent experience. It doesn’t matter if you worked the road for 10 years when you haven’t touched a patient in the last 2. These are perishable skills, and recruiters and management know this.
If you do not fulfill the top three to four job requirements listed, do not even bother applying. Do not apply to an RN position if you are an LPN. Do not apply to a Paramedic position if you are an EMT. You are wasting your time, your recruiters time, and potentially blacklisting yourself from future jobs, even if you do meet the requirements later on.
Look at the job location. If the job was posted out of Cape Canaveral, FL but the job description states “Deployed to Baghdad, Iraq”, guess what…you are going to Iraq.
If the job requires you to have a Passport, COVID Vaccination card, MMR titers… you better have those in hand prior to applying or sending in your resume.
Do not be a vexatious applicant applying to the same job(s) several times a year and not completing the process, pulling out of the process, or turning down the position. Eventually, recruitment will not even look at you because you are clearly a waste of time.
If the job requires you to be “Fluent in Spanish”, or any other language, you better be fluent. Are you ready for the guy conducting a phone interview with you to switch back and forth from English to Spanish while having conversation about patient care or private security detail scenarios? You cannot fake being multilingual and you will be caught.
GET OUT THERE AND WIN
You deserve to be paid what you are worth, valued for who you are and what you contribute, and go home feeling validated and content in your choices.
Your resume is you, let it represent you well.