Mental health professional listening to client during therapy session

The Secret to Writing an Effective Mental Health Resume

By Freddie Rohner, iHire, LLC

When it comes to resume writing, most mental health pros have similar apprehensions. They wonder “what constitutes an accomplishment in a field that is not sales driven and offers little in the way of quantifiable results?” Because of this, many choose to simply list the tasks they’ve performed in each of their previous positions. The problem with this strategy, however, is that it does not differentiate an individual’s qualifications from other candidates with similar experience.

To stand out from the crowd, it is necessary to highlight key contributions. For the therapist, counselor, or psychologist, these can take many forms, but you don’t have to be a professional resume writer to effectively tout your accomplishments in a way that will make employers take notice and call you in for an interview. Here are six potential areas to focus on complete with examples of real-life achievements from other mental health pros.

New Programs: Have you led or supported the creation of a new program? Emphasize the planning, coordination, and due diligence involved with that task, and don’t be modest about your involvement.

Example:

  • Established new counseling programs for clients with anorexia, bulimia, and obsessive compulsive disorder, handling intake duties, facilitating group and individual therapy sessions, and maintaining all necessary clinical documentation.

Recognition/Awards: If you earned “Employee of the Month” honors, it goes without saying that you should include that information on your resume, but what if you received a note of thanks from your CEO for going above and beyond for a troubled program participant or played a vital role in your organization securing a special accreditation or certification? Recognition doesn’t only take the form of a trophy, plaque, or other award. If you’ve been acknowledged for your work, don’t be modest – draw attention to that fact!

Example:

  • Built solid partnership with federal government by reestablishing program’s integrity, earning highest marks ABC Organization had ever been given during final audit; received special mention during CEO’s annual “state of the agency” address to the entire workforce.

Promotions: Were you groomed for a supervisory position, tapped to replace a key team member leaving the organization, or selected for a new role based on your reputation for reliability, knowledge, and counseling skills? No matter the reason, if your hard work resulted in career advancement, be sure to highlight that fact on your resume.

Example:

  • Promoted to Lead Counselor position and enlisted to turn around failing substance abuse program, ensuring full compliance with stipulations for client attendance in county-funded program, performing random drug testing, and holding participants accountable for their actions.

Relationship Building/Community Outreach and Relations: Having “people skills” is a necessary trait for many jobs, but it’s especially important in the mental health field. Let the reader know that you have excelled at bringing parties together despite conflicting objectives or have a knack for raising awareness within the community.

Example:

  • Bridged gap between school district and county mental health services, maintaining exceptional professional relationships with families, school employees, and county representatives.

Specialization (art therapy, integrated movement therapy, play therapy, etc.): Be sure to mention that you have completed additional professional training, offer a very unique skill set, or have experience utilizing a number of counseling techniques.

Example:

  • Achieved significant progress with at-risk students by utilizing wide-ranging expressive therapy approaches including art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, and writing therapy.

Special Projects: Did you lead an important effort or organize a large event? Celebrate that success and tout your ability to manage an initiative from beginning to end.

Example:

  • Spearheaded ABC Organization’s “Back to School Picnic” event where families could acquire backpacks and other school supplies and coordinated traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 250 attendees.

Although to some it would seem that the mental health profession does not lend itself to the marketing and self-promotion necessary for a successful job search, the fact is every job seeker should be able to find something to highlight in their resume. It’s true that more numbers-oriented occupations such as sales may have achievements that are a bit easier to find and relate, but by digging a little deeper and taking stock of the contributions you’ve made throughout your career, you’ll be able to better identify what you bring to the table so that you can apply for open positions with confidence and articulate to employers why you’re the best person for the job.

 

Interested in learning more about resume writing? Find out how to create your own resume and where to include credentials, publications/presentations, and additional training. You can also read about what not to do and educate yourself about some of the “rules” of modern resume writing.


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