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What did you do to make yourself stand out during the application and interview process? (volunteer, qualifications/skills/experience on your resume)?

I am in the beginning of my career and dream of becoming a midwife nurse. I am in the process of applying for nursing programs and would like to know more about what I can do to prepare myself for the best outcome. #nursing #midwife

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Tom’s Answer

Hi Shay. Please allow me to address only one of your points...making a resume stand out. i have had more success than not over the years with my resume when it contained a list of my professional skills, at the very top of the first page under my name. Employers are primarily hiring skills so why not show what you are good at???? Of course it helps if what you are good at applies to the job requirements. That was why I tweaked my skills for each different application. For instance, for one reason or another, on one resume I might list a skill of "leading teams in reaching goals" while on another I might put "Managing group performance". The difference being driven by what wording the different job descriptions contained,or my sense of what they might be looking for. My skill was essentially the same, I was just paraphrasing it in a manner most appropriate for the situation.

Also, try to use 'power verbs' before any skills wherever you can. "Power verbs" are words like, invented, led, managed, focused, created, (do a Google search on power verbs,---there are a bazillion of them. Here's a bunch more:

  • administered
  • applied
  • arranged
  • carried out
  • conducted
  • executed
  • facilitated
  • handled
  • performed

I used a couple power verbs in my examples above. Plug them in wherever you can.

So.........list your skills are the very top of the first page, under the heading Skills. And tweak these skills for each job application. I listed my skills first, my work history next and then my educational background. That will help you stand out. Good luck Shay!

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Veena’s Answer

If you are asked behavioral questions during the interview process ("Tell me about a time when..."), it's important to provide answers in a structured manner. One helpful structure to keep in mind is STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when you reply to interview questions. Spend 1-2 sentences on each part of the structure to clearly and succinctly articulate your answer.

Using the STAR structure takes practice, so spend time prior to the interview reflecting on the skills and experiences you want to highlight during the interview .

There are many places online that provide info on the STAR interview response technique, but one place to check out is here:

Good luck!

Veena recommends the following next steps:

Reflect upon the skills and experiences you want to highlight during an interview
Use the STAR technique to draft potential responses to talk about these skills and experiences. The key is to be brief (1-2 sentences for each section).
Practice your responses out loud before your interview, so that you are prepared for the big day.
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Shay,

So, in addition to trying to get some relevant experience, either through work or volunteering, the thing I personally focus on is writing an awesome cover letter! A cover letter is NOT a rehash of the resume. On the cover letter, you want to show that you truly understand what the job entails - that you really read the job announcement, and, spent some time on the website. The trick here is that the cover letter is NOT so much about you, it's about THEM - and why you are a good fit for the position.

It is three "sections." This can be more than 3 paragraphs, if necessary. Never more than one page. It is written in a business letter format.

  1. The first section is simply stating what position you are applying for, and how you found out about it.
  2. The second section is where you sell yourself. We'll come back to that!
  3. The third section is a statement in which you ask for the interview. I usually write "Please find my resume enclosed. I look forward to meeting with you to further discuss this exciting opportunity." (or something similar).

In the second section, I like showcasing how my experience is ideal for the position. But I start by explaining my understanding of what the position entails. Example: "A nurse must be able to retain detailed knowledge of multiple patients, and prioritize calls for service. As a police dispatcher, I often found myself handling multiple calls, simultaneously. This included emergency aircraft landings, where I had to coordinate responses by multiple agencies, along with vehicle theft reports, disturbances, and other police calls. Additionally, in the medical field, accurate and timely documentation is crucial. As a police officer, my superiors consistently gave me high review ratings for my report writing and verbal communication skills. More importantly, my reports successfully withstood all challenges in the courtroom. Healthcare providers must be compassionate, yet firm, as they move quickly between patients. In my work as an Unemployment Counselor, I worked with clients who were coping with many personal problems - including eviction and divorce. I received many compliments from my clients, some of which are included on my "Commendations" page attached to my resume. "

One last thing. As you can see in my example above, "Transferable skills" can really help to sell you for the position. It does not necessarily matter that it is not in the same field. Please remember this throughout your career!

Best of luck!


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Beth’s Answer

Keep it simple by listing your most recent experience after your skills. Always keep things in reverse chronological order, most recent to least recent. And do not use verbiage or abbreviations that only mean something to you. Write your resume for someone who has never met you and knows nothing of your skills.

Make sure you have added any related skills that you picked up in school, through jobs, in volunteering. You will never know how your experience as a life guard will spark an interest in an employer wanting to speak with you, for example.

There are MILLION of resume and cover letter writing sites out there. Or you can ask an adult in business whom you respect to take a look at your final draft. Here are a few sites to review:

Beth recommends the following next steps: