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How to Build a Great Caregiver Resume

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

In America, more than one out of six adults report caring for an elderly family member, many of whom are living with a disability.


Many of these caregiving roles are informal. The informal caregiver might be a family member, a close friend, or another relative who takes care of a senior member of their family or community. More often than not, informal caregivers are unpaid.


But more than three million Americans are paid as professional caregivers. They are also known as personal care aides or health aides.


They might work at long-term care facilities like adult daycares and nursing homes, or they might provide care directly to clients in their homes.


The demand for professional caregivers is expected to grow over the next decade, as we will discuss in the next section.


If you’re interested in a caregiving career, the first step in that process is to create a resume that will highlight your education, experience, and skills to land that first professional care provider role.


In this article, we will provide a proven template that will help you secure your first caregiving job, and set you on a path to a stable and rewarding career.


But first, let’s take a real quick look at the job outlook for caregivers over the next decade.


Career Outlook for Caregivers


Caregiving is one of the most in-demand skills in the job market today. And that trend is expected to grow along with the number of senior citizens. 


Currently, there are more than half a million senior citizens in America who are living with cognitive impairment or disability. That number is expected to double by 2030, according to one study.


That means there will be an increase in the need for people to provide care for these seniors.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities in the care providing field are expected to grow by 36 percent over the coming decade.


If you get started now and gain some valuable experience, there is a good chance you will be well-positioned and in high demand when the demand for caregivers starts to skyrocket.


Otherwise, gaining some experience as a care provider can also serve as a great stepping stone towards a nursing career if you choose to go that route.


Let’s delve a little bit deeper into what will be expected of you as a care provider so we can then create a resume that will communicate that you’re the right person to get the job done.


What will be expected from you as a caregiver


Your duties will vary somewhat depending on if you work to provide care to a client directly in their home, or if you work in a care facility like a nursing home.


Nursing homes can be expensive, so many people choose to remain at home and hire caregivers who can help them with various activities of daily living.


They might feel more comfortable remaining at home because it allows seniors to stay connected to their communities.


If you provide care at home, you’ll typically have to help primarily with daily living activities, along with some medical tasks if needed.


Here are some examples:



If you work in a care facility like a nursing home, your tasks would be more structured and you’ll most likely work under the supervision of a nurse and co-ordinate with other team members. 


Nonetheless, the end goal of your work would still be to help the patients and residents live comfortably and with dignity.


And regardless of the setting, as a caregiver, one of your biggest jobs is to be a cheerleader. 


You’re not just cleaning up after your senior’s meals and messes, but you’re also providing emotional support, encouragement, and helping them maintain a positive outlook on life.

Addressing the challenges of caregiving in your resume


Caregiving can definitely be a rewarding job. You get to directly impact the wellbeing of seniors who are living with limited mobility or disabilities. And you get to connect and interact with people from various walks of life.


But it isn’t all pleasant and rewarding all the time. Caregiving can be challenging as well. 


You will have to deal with people who are unwell, and at times, rude and unwilling to follow your guidance.


You may have to work long hours and be physically strong enough to move heavy weights when required.


The demanding nature of providing care means that many people come to realize that it isn’t for them, resulting in a high turnover rate in many nursing homes.


That means there will always be a demand for you, assuming you’re willing to deal with the challenges of providing care.


And that your resume communicates that you’re aware of the challenges and that you’re the right person to handle the situation when needed.


What your resume needs to convey


Your resume needs to communicate the following ideas to any potential employer.


  • You’re knowledgeable about and capable of working in the specific care role (home, nursing home) you’re applying for.
  • You’re passionate and enthusiastic about helping people with disabilities live a better life.
  • You’re willing and capable of handling the difficult situations that will come up when providing care.
  • Your education and previous experience have prepared you for the job you’re applying for. 


What if I don’t have prior caregiving experience?


One of the most common challenges caregivers face when writing their resume for the first time is the lack of previous professional care providing experience.


You need previous work experience to get the job. But how are you supposed to get that first job without prior experience, right?


The good news is that you don’t need to have specifically worked in a formal care setting to have relevant experience, as we will explain below. 


With the increasing demand for care providers, there is more than enough room for new aspiring caregivers like yourself to find work.


Informal caregiving to gain experience


Another option to gain relevant work experience is to provide informal care as you get ready to apply for professional caregiving jobs.


You may have an elderly family member, relative, or someone in your community that you can help with activities of daily living. 


If you’re in the state of New York, you may even qualify for compensation for your care services through CDPAP.

What should you put on your caregiving resume?


Let’s delve into the specifics of how to craft the perfect resume to land your first caregiving job.


The perfect caregiving resume should have five parts. 


  1. Profile
  2. Employment history
  3. Educational background
  4. Relevant Skills
  5. Languages 


Let’s take a look at each part of your resume in further detail. 


Part 1: Introduce yourself in the profile section


Your profile section goes on the top section of your resume, right below your name and info. Think of this as an opportunity to introduce yourself to any potential employer or client. 


Your profile section should convey warmth, charm, and empathy. It should also communicate that you’re confident in your capability to provide high quality care. 


Think of different experiences or qualifications you have that may differentiate you from others as a caregiver. Maybe it's a personality trait, a course you took, or your experience in caregiving, informal or formal.


But don’t go into too much detail. The purpose of the profile section is to pique enough interest so they keep reading your qualifications in the subsequent sections.

Part 2: Showcase your past work experience


The next section should highlight your past work experience. 


The purpose of this section is two-fold.


1. Relevant work experience


You want to demonstrate that you have the right type of experience when it comes to caring for others. 


This could either mean that you’ve already worked as a professional care provider, and you were able to hold those positions for some length of time (ideally 6 months or longer). 


Or it could also mean that you have experience in another service-oriented role, and the skills would transfer well to a caregiving role.


For example, if you worked as a nanny, or you volunteered for children living with disabilities in your community, you can mention that in your profile section. 


You can say you’re seeking a position as a caregiver as someone with experience in caring for children with disabilities and a passion for helping others live better lives.


Otherwise, if you’ve cared for a family member, you can say you’re an experienced caregiver looking to get started as a professional in a care facility.


If you have absolutely no work experience at all, consider volunteering at a senior center or offering to care for a relative, as we explained before. Doing so even for a relatively short period will give you a much needed boost when it comes to work experience.


2. Reliability and dependability


The other thing you want to show in your work experience section is the fact that you’re dependable.


When you work as a caregiver, people depend on you for important things like their meals and medicines. So, reliability is a must.


If your resume shows that you’ve been able to hold jobs for lengthy periods in the past, it reassures future employers and clients that they can depend on you to be there when needed. 


Of course, things happen, and if you have jobs when you left after a short while, or if there are significant gaps in your employment history, be ready to offer explanations in your cover letter as to why that is.


Part 3: List your credentials


Similar to your work experience, your education section of the resume is meant to show that you have the required specialized knowledge to provide care at a high level.


Beyond any formal education, like a Bachelor’s or Associate's degree, be sure to list any relevant certifications that could be useful in a caregiving role.


For example, if you have a CPR certification, or you are a trained lifeguard, those could be critical skills in a nursing home. 


If you don't have any relevant credentials, you can check with your local area community college if they offer courses for nursing assistants. 


If you live in New York, there are various programs that offer education for becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant).


If you don’t have relevant work experience or credentials, CNA training will provide a significant boost to your chances of finding that first job in a care providing role. It will also help if you choose to pursue a nursing career in the future. 


Part 4: Care-related skills


The skills section of your resume should consist of two sections - hard skills and soft skills.


Hard skills are anything that are specific to your role as a care provider. 


For example, if you have the ability to understand your client’s special dietary needs, and you can then arrange for the necessary shopping and meal preparation, that’s a relevant job specific skill.


On the other hand, if you just happen to be a caring person that is passionate about helping seniors, that is a soft skill, which is also vital for your role.


You should highlight your skills in multiple parts of your resume. You could highlight your hard skills in the work experience section, as well as in the skills section.


Hard skills


Here are some examples of how you can highlight your hard skills.


Let’s say these are your hard skills:


  • Helping patients with dressing, grooming, and personal hygiene
  • Monitoring skin health to maintain skin integrity
  • Administering medicine on time
  • Arranging transportation to social activities and doctor’s visits
  • Helping your senior clients with tech set up so they can communicate with loved ones remotely


You should list these skills in this section of your resume.


But going back to the work experience section of your resume, you should also highlight these skills there in examples of what you did in a specific role.


So if you had a job where you had to help a patient with dressing and grooming, or with medications, you should definitely mention those tasks in the work experience section also.


Soft skills


List any soft skills that are relevant and useful in a caregiving setting. 


Just like the hard skills, you should try to highlight these soft skills throughout the resume.


For example, if you’re a good listener, include a bullet point in your work experience about how your listening skills helped you better understand a patient's problems, and how you were able to improve their wellbeing by acting accordingly.


If you feel a lot of compassion about those living with disabilities, you can mention that in the beginning profile section.


Here are some examples of soft skills.


  • Being a good listener
  • Having compassion and empathy
  • Decisiveness
  • Attention to details
  • Consistently being on time

Part 5: What languages do you speak?


If you speak more than one language, be sure to highlight that in this part of your resume. 


Although not a requirement by any means to be a care provider, if you speak multiple languages, it does give you an advantage because you can effectively communicate with people from a wider range of backgrounds.


This is especially true if you speak widely spoken languages like Spanish. 


Remember, you don’t need to be fluent to list a language. Feel free to include a language as long as you can speak enough to aid the caregiving process. 


But in that case, be sure to indicate the level of your fluency.

Getting started on your resume today


Here are a few action steps to get you started with your resume today.


Step 1: Take inventory


Take inventory of all your credentials, experiences, and skills. Make a list of anything that might be relevant to a care providing role.


Make a list of all of your skills, both hard and soft, and any languages that you can communicate in.


Step 2: Craft the perfect resume 


Now use the template in this article to create the perfect resume. 


If you’re not sure how to format your resume so it looks elegant and professional, there are plenty of instructions and examples online.


If you’re currently enrolled in university or college, your career center should have guides as well.


Step 3: Make a list of potential employers


Once you have your resume, now it's time to identify any potential employers or clients. 


Make a list of local area agencies that connect caregivers and recipients. Also, look on various job boards for caregiving roles.


Don’t forget your personal network. Tell all your friends and family that you’re looking to get started in a caregiving career, and that you’d appreciate it if they can connect you with any potential employers or clients.


Step 4: Reach out


There’s only one thing left to do, and that is to reach out to as many people as possible. 


Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back immediately. Be persistent, and apply for jobs consistently.


Remember, once you gain a bit of experience, the process will get much simpler. 


And with the expected increase in demand for care providers, you will always have an abundance of employment opportunities in the years to come.

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