By Nadine M. Carter, MBA, BSN, RN, CDMS, CCM

“I know that I am a qualefied candidate and would be an asset to your company!”

If you are a candidate looking for your next ideal position, how might the above sentence impact the potential employer’s choice?  You have heard it said that potential employers review a resume for approximately 6 seconds before making an initial decision as to whether to move forward or not. 6 seconds!  That is such a brief period and if your resume is rejected due to misspelled words or bad grammar, you could be the best candidate for the job but blow the opportunity based simply on your naivete.

  • What are potential employers looking for?

Obviously, employers are looking for the candidate with the skill set that most closely matches the requirements of the job they are posting.  Many case management jobs require a degree of computer savvy as documentation is now done on the computer vs. handwritten notes in most healthcare settings.  This can be a hard transition if you are not computer savvy, but you will not even get to experience this transition if you cannot get hired for the job.

  • How can spelling or grammatical errors be cause for concern?

This could create a red flag for employers as they review resumes.  They may look at these errors as the work of someone who is potentially not detail-oriented or not computer savvy.  Nowadays, most software programs auto-correct words as you are typing them or you may just get a line under a misspelled word or grammatical error.  If you do not take the time to correct these errors, that could show as laziness or incompetence for not taking the time to correct the error.  While this may not have much to do with clinical skills, it does speak to technical skills, which are important in today’s technological savvy era.  Your resume is also your professional profile.  You want it to show the best possible profile of yourself and errors on your resume may have a negative impact.

  • Do all recruiters or potential employers care about spelling errors?

Spelling and/or grammatical errors may not be a red flag to everyone, but why take the chance? A minor error may be overlooked or cause for your resume to be rejected, ruining any chances for obtaining an interview.  Multiple spelling and/or grammatical errors would probably be a red flag to any potential employer and a poor reflection of yourself, reducing the impact of your clinical expertise and potentially leading to a missed opportunity.

  • Spell-Check is not always perfect

Spell check is a resource but remember that all applications have some limitations.  Spell-check may not pick up homonyms such as “there” and “their,” assuming that they are spelled correctly.  Homophones may not be picked up either, e.g., “new” and “knew.”  Spell-check applications contain pre-programmed words in the application, and it may not pick up a word that is not contained in the application.  You may have seen “add to dictionary” when spell-checking a word.  The application is asking you to decide if the word is correct and needs to be added to the application’s dictionary.  You will need to know the correct spelling before deciding if it should be revised or added to the application.

In a clinical world, there may be multiple medical terminology words that are not contained in the application’s dictionary.  When using clinical terms in your resume, please ensure that they are spelled correctly.  When not sure, please take the time to look it up.  I personally struggle with words such as “ophthalmology” so I know that I always need to double-check the spelling when writing it out.  We also use many abbreviations in the clinical world; please remember to spell out all abbreviations the first time it is used in a resume and then you can use the abbreviation in any subsequent usage.  Some abbreviations are universal; others are facility based so you cannot assume that the person reading your resume is going to know all the abbreviations.

I have been in Director of Case Management roles in various managed care companies over the years and, therefore, someone who has reviewed an abundance of resumes.  I do have the skill set of picking up minor errors in documents and have mentored others on the importance of avoiding misspelled words and/or grammatical errors in important documents.  Your resume may be one of the most important documents when you are looking for your next ideal role.  You have spent time educating yourself to make an impact in your chosen career.  Do not let a careless mistake cost you any opportunities.  I currently serve as Secretary for National CMSA and my local chapter, so it is very important to me to have clear and concise documentation in the minutes.  Use the resources available to you to check for spelling and/or grammar.  Read your resume prior to sending it.  Also, ask someone else to read it because they may pick up something that you missed.  It has been said that 2 sets of eyes are better than one.  Should you miss out on an opportunity, do not let it be something that can be so easily remedied.

I am now Consulting Director of Care Management for Global Care Management, a healthcare recruiting firm, so I continue to review job profiles and resumes and aim to provide helpful tips for creating the best resume that will stand out and get noticed.

Remember, your resume is your brand profile and serves as the introduction to a potential employer. First impressions can be lasting impressions.  Consider when you are dating and meeting someone for the first time: you want that first impression to lead to multiple encounters, assuming there is mutual interest.  The same goes for your resume.  You want it to lead to a phone conversation and/or an interview so please ensure that your first impression will set the stage for additional encounters with the potential employer.  Interviews are two-way streets; you are deciding if you want to work for a specific employer while they are determining if they want to hire you.  Ensure that your resume works for you.  Use spell checkers and/or grammar checkers as resources, but remember that they are just that, a resource.  Human eyes and knowledge are the final determinants of correct spelling and usage of words in a resume.

Bio: Nadine M. Carter, MBA, BSN, RN, CDMS, CCM
Nadine is the Consulting Director of Care Management at Global Care Management Staffing, a healthcare recruiting agency.  With 40 plus years of nursing experience and 30 plus years of case management experience, Nadine loves to serve as a mentor/coach to aspiring and/or experienced case managers.  She is a Group Expert in the Facebook “Case Managers Community” page hosted by the Case Management Institute, (CMI).  Nadine has extensive experience in leadership and executive roles in various areas of the healthcare industry. Nadine is the 2021-2023 Secretary of CMSA national and the Secretary of her local Atlanta, GA chapter.  Nadine is a member of the Editorial Review Board for the Professional Case Management journal.

Once you've used Nadine's tips to elevate your resume, find your perfect fit in the CMSA Career Center: