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What Hiring Managers are Looking for in Respiratory Therapist Candidates

by CoreMedical Group

What Hiring Managers are Looking for in Respiratory Therapist CandidatesThe devastating arrival and longevity of COVID-19 has created a demand for respiratory therapists in facilities across the country. Hiring managers are seeking qualified, experienced RTs to fill short-term and long-term positions in facilities nationwide.

With such a demand, it’s crucial that skilled RTs know exactly what hiring managers are looking for in order to accelerate the hiring process. In turn, this expedites the placement of RTs where thousands now need specialized RT care.

4 Attributes that Top Every Hiring Manager’s List

  1. 1.  Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) Certification

Most RTs begin their careers with entry-level credentials as a CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist). However, in January 2005, the NBRC (National Board for Respiratory Care) introduced a secondary licensure that set a new standard of excellence for respiratory care—the RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist).

This certification tops the list of what hiring managers are seeking in prospective candidates.

In order to start the process of becoming an RRT, you must already have your CRT credentials, be at least 18 years old, and hold an associate’s degree in a respiratory therapy program from a CoARC accredited institution.

If you do not have an associate’s degree, you may still meet NBRC’s alternative qualifications based on clinical experience and education. [Alternative qualifications can be found under TCM FAQs on the NBRC website.]

Earning the RRT certification is a two-step process:

1.  Complete the TCM (Therapist Multiple Choice) exam with the high-cut score.
2.  Once you pass with the high-cut score, apply to take the CSE (Clinical Simulation Exam). With a passing score on the CSE, you’ll earn your RRT certification.

This certification process is notoriously one of most rigorous in the medical field. This works in your favor though in the eyes of hiring managers. Having the initials RRT beside your name proves you have what it takes to successfully meet a challenge and demonstrates your desire to stay up to date in the field.

  1. 2.  Relevant & Recent Experience

When it comes to resume writing, more is generally not better… unless it’s relevant. Hiring managers want to see work experience that is directly related to the position, not every job you’ve ever had.

Let’s go over a few pro tips to make your resume stand out:

      • • Include all RT-related roles but elaborate on applicable experience.

Any clinical position you’ve held in the field of respiratory therapy is relevant, of course, and deserves a spot on your resume. However, hiring managers want to see even more niche experience.

For example, if you’re applying for a role as an RT in a long-term care nursing facility, you’ll need to demonstrate experience with an aging population. Make these events more than job history bullet points. Elaborate on your responsibilities in those roles and the environment in which you worked. On the other hand, if you have experience working with newborns in the NICU, merely listing it as part of your job history will suffice.

If you’re seeking to transition to a new specialization within RT but do not have related experience, make sure to address this in your resume and/or cover letter. Include your reasons for the redirection and what would qualify you for consideration despite your lack of qualifications. Remember: Don’t try to stretch the truth about your knowledge to satisfy the position unless you have the know-how and experience to back it up.

        • • Don’t include non-RT roles (with the exception of leadership).

Hiring managers don’t want to see your entire job history (unless it’s relevant, of course). Depending on how long it’s been since you last applied for a new job, that could mean you’re starting from scratch. That’s okay. A resume deserves to be refreshed frequently as time goes on and expectations change.

The only points you should keep unrelated to RT are those that highlight leadership. Leadership skills are transferable among disciplines and warrant a permanent spot on your resume.

        • • Address gaps and/or consecutive short-term roles.

Hiring managers want to know that adding you to the team is a good investment for their company. It’s best to dispel any concerns that may arise looking at your resume.

For instance, if you have a gap of time in your resume, rather than let a hiring manager guess as to why that is, be upfront about it. You may have taken a season to be a stay-at-home parent, or you needed to be a caregiver for a relative, or you may have decided to further your education. Whatever the reason, address it in your resume.

If you have had several short-term roles listed on your resume, these also need to be addressed to keep the hiring manager from making assumptions about your potential longevity with the company. This certainly applies to travel RTs who may have many short-term stints meeting needs across the country.

All of a sudden, if it’s addressed, a pattern that could have sparked concern turns into a selling point on your resume.

  1. 3. National & State-Level Memberships

Hiring managers are also looking for involvement. Join the AARC (American Association of Respiratory Care). The membership fees and dues are minimal, and it’s worth joining for the resources and community.

Once you’re a member of this national organization, you are automatically made a member of the state society where you live (or where you work).

  1. 4. Upstanding Character

Just like with almost any field, hiring managers want candidates with upstanding character. Of particular importance is integrity and a passion to learn.

As an RT, you’re generally caring for someone at a very critical moment, and it’s important for you to be honest about what you know and what you don’t know – particularly in the interview process.

Hiring managers respect a candidate who is honest about the areas where there may be a knowledge deficiency paired with a desire to learn and grow.


The AARC is an excellent resource, providing additional information about attributes hiring managers are looking for in prospective RT candidates and tips for the interview process.

If you’re already an RRT looking to travel, check out our job listings or join our talent community today to have a recruiter reach out to you.

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