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Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a rewarding career with plenty of available job opportunities. Yet, in a competitive job market, having a strong and professionally written resume is essential for standing out against other candidates.
As this job can be high-pressure and demanding, potential employers often look beyond training to assess soft skills. Here are some essential skills that resonate when applying for a CNA role.
Multi-Tasking and Prioritization
As a CNA, you’ll experience periods in which several important things are happening simultaneously. Multi-tasking and quickly moving from one task to the next is just a part of the job; the ability to assess a situation and prioritize is what sets successful CNAs apart.
You should add quantifiable tasks and proven competencies when you include skills on a resume. If you have prior experience as a CNA, note how many patients you oversaw each day or the size of the ward. Quantify other responsibilities as well, such as how many treatments you administered, how many medical professionals you communicated with, etc.
When you apply for a CNA position, it’s crucial to touch on your interpersonal communication skills. You’ll be responsible for communicating with nurses, administrators, patients, and sometimes families. Both written and oral communication skills are essential for a CNA.
As you note your communication and collaboration skills, highlight your dedication to discretion and patient privacy. Adhering to HIPPA while keeping detailed notes and patient charts is an invaluable skill. It also showcases an understanding of how facilities work and what standards they’re held to.
Empathy and Compassion
Highlight your priorities in patient-centric care. Treating patients with the utmost empathy and compassion is foundational for becoming a CNA. Maintaining these skills when people are unpleasant or in pain is a must.
Include relevant training around patient-centric care. For example, you can take free trauma-informed and violence-informed patient care courses to develop these skills further. Taking additional training in working with specialized patients (for example, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients) can also help you stand out when applying to memory care and long-term care facilities.
You can also use feedback from previous patients and employers to highlight your achievements in patient-centric care, such as implementing patient satisfaction surveys or a peer feedback program. Perhaps you worked with your team to develop holistic strategies for pain management.
Adaptability and Understanding
Having a clear understanding of medical terminology is a must for a CNA. Administering medication is a crucial part of your job, and making a mistake due to a lack of knowledge could put someone’s life at risk.
It’s normal to experience knowledge gaps as an entry-level CNA. Identifying that you’re an adaptable, quick learner will showcase to a potential employer that you’re eager to develop your expertise in this field. It also conveys that you’re ready to practice humility and ask clarifying questions when you don’t understand something.
Reliability and Dependability
Many long-term care facilities and health centers are experiencing a post-pandemic staffing shortage. This is a prime opportunity for new CNAs to find a job and even secure a signing bonus with some employers. However, it creates a need for a special skill: reliability.
Reliability extends beyond just showing up for your shifts; it means your employer can depend on you to be present for your patients and fully engrossed in the job. It means you’re trustworthy and capable of handling an emergency and supporting your team.
If possible, use examples to quantify your dependability. Note when or how you supported your team in emergency situations or if you received any rewards or recognition in previous roles.
Organization and Attentiveness
Organization and attention to detail go hand-in-hand with the other skills on this list. Use this opportunity to discuss how you improved processes or productivity.
Don’t hesitate to use experience from working through the pandemic. Many facilities were forced to re-organize and implement new cleaning measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Discuss how you participated in those efforts.
Considerations for Entry-Level CNAs
If you’re an entry-level CNA, consider how you can tie your previous work experience into these skills. Many soft skills are transferrable, regardless of industry or educational background. Using metrics from your previous jobs to highlight your attention to client (patient) care, your ability to collaborate and work with a team, and your continued reliability will help you get your first CNA job.
Including relevant skills on your resume will appeal to automated candidate tracking systems and hiring managers. Add these keywords with tangible metrics to set yourself apart from the competition.
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