Having a great resume as a travel occupational therapist, travel physical therapist or travel speech-language pathologist is so important for getting interviewed and hired. After traveling for 6 years, I became a pro at interviewing on the phone every 13 weeks for my next travel assignment. But there was something crucial that had to happen before the phone interview. I had to look good enough (on paper) for the hiring manager to even select me to be interviewed. The resume is the first impression and once you have perfected your travel therapy resume, travel therapy life becomes much easier.
Let’s start with the basics which is a list of what to include inside a travel therapy resume. Some of these items may seem basic but sometimes it’s surprising how many people forget the basics. I had to review healthcare professionals’ resumes when I was helping staff a strike once. It was surprising how hard it was for me to even find the name of the traveler’s specialty on their resume.
Travel therapy resume checklist
- Specialty. Make it very clear and easy to spot that you are an SLP, PT, OT, COTA, or PTA.
Years of experience
- Education. The name of the school and the degree you earned. If you are a recent grad this can be a great place to put any honors you received as well.
- State licensure
- Certifications and extra training. Examples could be an active BLS cert or any advanced training you’ve taken.
- Work history. List this with a start and end date and name the facility you worked at. You can say in the description that you were a travel PT, OT, or SLP on a 13-week contract so it makes it very clear why you bounce around so much. Also, state very clearly the type of setting. For example, if the name of the facility was Eisenhower, also state if it is a hospital, school, skilled nursing home, or outpatient facility (etc).
- Description. This will explain the general scope of work performed at each healthcare facility. This can be an overlooked place to be able to shine. You can say the patient caseload size, if it was day or night shift, if you floated or worked on-call, special equipment you used at this facility, typical diagnoses you work with, or specialized treatments used. This is a great place to pack with keywords. Talk about your skills rather than just copy and paste general descriptions.
- Keywords. Write your resume as if the hiring manager does not know about your specialty (this happens a lot). They might have a list of words and specifications to try to find on your resume to see if you match what their facility needs. Make your resume very easy to scan with relevant keywords that a hiring manager would be impressed with. If they can easily read and understand your resume in minutes – that’s a big win!
- Summary. This can be two or three sentences that show off your great personality, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. It also allows you to highlight the specific strengths you want the hiring manager to see at the top of your resume. This is about how you can contribute to them, it is not stating your career goals or writing an objective statement.
- Electronic documentation systems. List any of these that you have used. This can help you stand out if you already know a system that the facility uses because you will need a shorter orientation time.
- References right on the resume. As a travel therapist, your references are part of your submission and application to facilities. This one saves time for everyone if you have them already listed.
Those are the basics components that make up a travel therapy resume. Now let’s move to checklist number two, which is a fun one! This is the what not to do checklist.
6 things to avoid when making your resume
- Cover letters. It is not necessary for travel healthcare.
- Grammar and spelling mistakes. I can be the queen of this but on a resume, there are no excuses. It’s usually one or two pages long and it’s your first impression of getting (or not getting) amazing jobs. Proofread. Then have your mama proofread. Read it out loud (for real). Then put it into Grammarly. Grammarly is a free website that is great at catching most spelling and grammar errors.
- Having only one resume. It is a great idea to have two or three versions of your resume that highlight different skills and keywords depending on what setting you are applying for. As travel therapists, we have such a cool life. We can work one travel assignment in home health and then the very next could be outpatient pediatrics. With that style of career, we end up with a lot of skills. We can decide which ones to highlight and talk more about depending on the setting we are applying for. You also can highlight different CE courses special to that setting. To keep this simple, the resumes can be almost the same but the summary at the top can change.
- Including unrelated details. Your travel therapy resume should be all about therapy. The hiring manager doesn’t care if you used to work at Starbucks so just keep your resume specific to skills that matter as an OT, PT, or SLP. It’s okay if it’s short because you don’t have much professional experience yet.
- Being too cute on your resume. Use simple fonts and keep formatting very clean. The goal is for the resume to be very scannable. You want it to be easy to find the details and skills you have quickly. Hiring managers could just skip you altogether if it’s hard to quickly scan and find what they need. PS: Don’t underline anything! Many resumes are sent through a computer system to find keywords and an underline can mess it up from finding what it needs to on your resume. Avoid images, colors, and design elements. Simple is best for our industry!
- Not listing all of your clinical experience. Don’t list fewer experiences just to keep the resume to one page. You don’t have to have a one-page resume in this industry. List all your travel jobs!
With these two travel therapy resume checklists, you are on your way to landing your dream travel therapy job! You can even start browsing open travel therapy jobs right now. If you see one you like, I will connect you to the staffing agency that has the job. And now you can send them your awesome new resume.
Cheers to having the best resume ever!