How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume Stand Out

How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume Stand Out

Whether you’re at the beginning of your career or an established professional, it’s so important to keep your Occupational Therapist resume up to date.

Currently, there are many interesting opportunities out there for Occupational Therapists. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this trend will continue for the foreseeable future, since the BLS predicts a 27 percent job growth between 2014 and 2024.

However, to get the job you want, your resume not only has to be current; it also has to stand out from the pack. Hiring managers receive numerous applications for each position (mostly from highly qualified professionals).

The impact your resume makes could well be the deciding factor that gets you an interview.

It’s important to understand there are three aspects to maximizing your resume’s impact.

First, you need to possess the skills, expertise, and experiences that make you more desirable than the competition.

Second, you need to optimize your resume to get past applicant tracking systems (ATS). These are software programs that evaluate your application based on the information they extract from your resume.

And third, you need to present the information about your specific skills and experience in a manner that makes an impact on hiring managers.

Keep the following 11 tips in mind when putting together, or revising your Occupational Therapist resume.

1. Make career choices that add value for employers.

Even while you’re still in training, you should be looking for ways to gain more experience and expertise.

While an entry level Occupational Therapist resume or an Occupational Therapy Assistant resume may not be required to show significant past work experience, most jobs want to see that you’ve had prior, relevant time in the field.

For example, you could intern at a high profile clinic, or you could work your way up from being an Occupational Therapist Assistant to an Occupational Therapist.

You should also start to specialize as soon as possible, since expertise will increase your value to employers.

Finally, you should showcase your expertise:

  • maintain your own blog on the topic
  • contribute to trade publications
  • volunteer to speak at conferences
  • offer to mentor younger colleagues

SEE ALSO: How to Take Full Advantage of OTA to OT Bridge Programs

2. Begin with a professional profile.

The correct way to begin your resume is with a professional profile. Use this article to breakdown the key points in a great summary so you can write the perfect one.

This is a short (200 to 250 words) summary of your strongest skills and accomplishments that provide insights into the value you can bring to an organization.

For example, you could write something like, “Highly skilled Occupational Therapist with expertise in designing and implementing treatment plans for patients with Alzheimer’s and early onset dementia.”

Or if you’re multilingual, you could highlight the fact that you can serve non-English speaking populations.

Multiple Formats | How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume

3. Prepare your resume in multiple formats.

In most cases, you’ll apply to a job online.

Some systems ask you to upload your resume, after which a bot distributes your information in the data fields. Other systems want you to send your resume as an attachment.

In both cases, you’re best advised to submit either a Word document or a .txt file, since they can be processed by the bots.

Do not submit a PDF file, since the application systems can’t process them accurately. In addition, you should have a hard copy version of your resume that you can take with you to interviews.

4. Get your resume past the ATS.

There are a number of things to keep in mind to get past the ATS.

While formatting is important, it’s not as important as including keywords that are related to the position you want, as well as the keywords in the job posting.

As Josh Fruhlinger points out in his IT World article titled “Get your resume past the robots: How to beat HR’s mechanical gatekeepers,” a fancy layout with unusual fonts isn’t going to increase your candidacy with an automated program.

Instead, think of all the keywords and key phrases you can include that apply to your experience and skills, and sprinkle them liberally throughout. You should tailor your Occupational Therapist resume to each position, which means you’ll likely use different keywords for each application.

Note that you can view the most important keywords for a job by looking at the page’s title.

To do this, place your cursor in the URL bar and click twice to select the entire link. This will reveal the full page title, including the most important keywords.

You can also use the meta description of a page to find more keywords by viewing the HTML code of a web page. You can do this by right clicking on a page and choosing “View page source” or by choosing “Page source” in the developer tab, and then scrolling down till you see “meta description.”

5. Describe your value-added skills and accomplishments.

For example, let’s say your company relocated to a new location with upgraded facilities.

You were in charge of moving your department, as well as making sure the new facilities offered improved capabilities.

Now let’s say you accomplished this on time and below budget; then your leadership, management, and organizational skills are proven to add considerable value.

Other important attributes to highlight include:

  • being solution-oriented
  • innovative
  • a good communicator

Whenever possible, express the value you added in measurable terms. If your expertise and communication skills brought in a corporate client for your employer and the client spent approximately $500,000 a year on employee rehabilitation, state that certain amount.

Transferable Skills | How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resu

6. Include your transferable skills.

Transferable skills are skills that don’t directly stem from your professional training but that can be applied in your work.

For example, if you’ve taken care of a parent with dementia, you’ve earned significant and specialized experience.

If you volunteered for a summer camp for children with disabilities when you were in college, you’ve earned significant and specialized experience.

At the same time, other life experiences can also apply.

If you organized a group vacation for your book club, it shows you have organizational and managing skills. If you relocated frequently growing up, it demonstrates flexibility and an ability to adapt to new environments and cultures.

SEE ALSO: 9 Occupational Therapy Specialties for the Best Career Path

Education | How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume Stand Out

7. List your education.

Your resume for Occupational Therapist jobs must include your schooling, licenses, and certifications. In most cases, this should be enough.

However, if you were an exceptional student, or if you’re an entry-level professional, it’s a good idea to include your grade point average.

Consider how the clubs and organizations in which you participated may highlight your skills.

In many cases, showcasing these activities in a way that mirrors the verbiage used in the job listing can help your chances of consideration if you don’t have much prior job experience.

If a job listing seeks a “detail-oriented team player”, include your participation as the treasurer for your Sorority, a volunteer in your school’s chapter of Big Brother’s Big Sisters, or the founder of the AI Club.

Regardless of the activity, if it required detailed effort among a group of students, that checks the job listing’s box. Be sure to showcase it!

8. Provide recent references.

Include a list of references who can and are willing to speak about your professional skills.

This can include:

  • supervisors
  • colleagues
  • mentors
  • clients

Just make sure to always ask for their permission before listing them.

It’s possible that the job listing doesn’t ask for references. When building your Occupational Therapist resume, include the references as a separate page and only include them on your actual resume if the job listing states to do so.

Max Two Pages | How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume Stand Out

9. Keep the entire document to a maximum of two pages.

If you’re new to the working world, it won’t be a problem keeping your resume short, sweet and to the point.

If you’re a mid-career or senior professional, listing all of your employers and accomplishments usually makes for three or four pages.

As a rule of thumb, limit your professional experience to the past 10 years to keep your resume to the desired length.

If you have ever scanned a stack of resumes yourself, you know that a concise and impactful single page resume really stands out. Wow a hiring manager with your opening summary and attempt to fit the rest on a single page.

You can always fill them in about the rest of your experience during the interview your spectacular resume earns you!

10. Proofread Your Occupational Therapist Resume!

You don’t want to send out a resume with grammatical or spelling mistakes, period.

Do the following diligently:

  • Proofread the document carefully.
  • Use the spellcheck tool in your word processing program.
  • Ask a colleague or friend to check for errors.

While this tip may seem so simple, a single error can turn off a hiring manager who is looking for someone highly detail-oriented. Skipping this step might knock you out of the running before you even get in the door.

11. Make sure your LinkedIn profile corresponds with your resume.

Not every hiring manager will review your profile, but many will. Bring your LinkedIn up to date with your most recent experience and certifications.

It’s also advisable to request skills endorsements and recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, and clients. A glowing recommendation can easily sway a hiring manager from “maybe” to “definitely”.

Occupational Therapist Resume Conclusion | How to Make Your Occupational Therapist Resume Stand Out


Making your resume stand out from the pack requires:

  • planning
  • hard work
  • precision

Accomplish these goals by running down this list every time you create, revise and or submit a resume:

  1. Show past careers that add value.
  2. Provide your resume in the correct file format.
  3. Get your resume past the ATS.
  4. Open with a professional summary.
  5. Showcase notable skills and accomplishments.
  6. List relevant transferable skills.
  7. Highlight your education.
  8. Provide references.
  9. Keep it short.
  10. Proofread.
  11. Update LinkedIn.

The best and brightest Occupational Therapist resume examples always include aspects of the tips listed above. It may seem like a lot, but remember, your resume is the first impression a hiring manager will get.

When you get a call back from the company you want to work for, it feels good that all your efforts paid off!

Your next step will be prepping for these occupational therapy interview questions and answers.

Do you have any tips about making an Occupational Therapist resume shine?

Share with us in the comments below!


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