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Tell The Truth - Do You Need To Go To Confession?

September 10, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Growing up Catholic, we had two kinds of sin - mortal sin and venial sin. In case you didn’t spend every Monday night of your life from kindergarten thru twelfth grade in CCD class (take that ARRA, HITECH, CHIME and all the rest of you acronyms), I’ll explain the difference. Venial sins were the little ones – the ones covered by statements like, “I promise I didn’t leave my tricycle in the driveway right where you told me not to when the telephone man ran over it,” or “nope, those aren’t my brussel sprouts hidden in the linen napkin under the couch cushion,” or a little further on down the road, “no Officer, I had no idea I was doing 63 in a 45.” Mortal sins, on the other hand, were the biggees. The official definition in our catechism book, as I recall, described them as a “grave matter.” I remember thinking that meant if I did commit a mortal sin, it would mean a life spent in that scary confessional booth, and since I was afraid of the dark I took great pains to stick to the lesser offenses.

So, other than being mildly educational, what can this introduction to the two types of transgressions possibly have to do with you? Well, I’ll tell you. After reviewing hundreds of resumes from Healthcare IT professionals, I have come to a painful, sweeping conclusion. Instead of gingerly broaching the topic, sugarcoating the hell out of it, and then tactfully letting you down gently, I’m just going to come out and say it: 99.9% of you are committing a mortal sin when you write your own resume. I know, it hurts. But I’ve thought about it, and think I know what has led you down this wayward path.

At this point in your career, you are an accomplished Healthcare IT professional. You’ve been there, done that, and have the certificate to prove it. Several certificates, actually. You’ve supervised, created, led, spearheaded, developed, implemented, budgeted, troubleshot, strategized, consulted, produced, guided, and negotiated. To get to your level of experience and expertise, you must possess the ability and the need to see and assimilate both the big picture and the minutest of detail. However, as I continue to receive 5-page resumes with attachments and addendums and links to even more information, it’s occurred to me – perhaps therein lies the problem. Due to the nature of your position, with its multiple layers, responsibilities, and required skill sets, it would be a very difficult task to pare it down to a manageable list of important bullet points. Especially for you, because in Healthcare IT, it’s all about the details. And this is just one position out of several that you need to tout, so it’s completely understandable why the document that needs to be Reader’s Digest-like turns into more like the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Your Resume.

Okay, it’s completely understandable. But now what? How’s a Healthcare IT professional with years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and a slew of great accomplishments supposed to handle this natural tendency to cover her/his career from A to Z? This is where it gets simple. Hire a professional. But the good ones are expensive, and you can write, so why not do it yourself? There’s one answer to that question: Hire a professional.

Here’s why it’s worth it: Your resume is often your one and only chance to make a good first impression. The recruiters I talk to every day tell me that a typical resume gets 15 seconds to either warrant a phone call or the trash can. It is no exaggeration to say that your resume may very well be the single most important investment you can make when it comes to your career development. (Well, that and reading this blog.) Many recruiting firms and executive search consultants offer resume critiques and resume writing services to their job seeking clientele. You may very well know more than they do about the particular position you’re applying for, but they know more than you do about how to present yourself in the best possible light, so use their expertise for your benefit! If these services are not offered, if you’re applying for a position directly, or if you are currently employed and haven’t updated the last version of your resume, then I highly recommend hiring a professional resume writer who specializes in writing for Healthcare IT executives.

One such resume writer, Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW (who has offered to extend a discount to Healthcare Informatics readers, btw) offers this advice on her site:

“Always ask these questions before hiring a resume writer:




Thanks Pete!

Many professionals tell me that they simply struggle with the idea of someone else creating their critical first impression. Great professional resume writers insist on a collaborative process, which is time consuming (which explains the cost), but produces superior results. I agree that recruiters should have resume resources for job seekers - whether that's an in-house resource or an alliance with a company like Erin's.

Glad you like Father G.S. In my opinion, SNL hasn't been the same without him (and several others!)


Great tips! By the way, love the picture of Father Guido Sarducci. I have been amazed how many recruiters do not take the time to help their clients clean up their resumes. The last few talent searches I have done for clients results in getting SPAM resumes. Most that do not meet the minimum requirements for the job (relocation, travel requirements, etc.) Given the finder fees that recruiters charge, you would think they would follow your tips. So for those folks using recruiters, insist on getting resume help..or use another recruiter.