Try these suggestions to bring your resume into focus
What is the purpose of a resume? It’s your chance to market yourself! A resume is a one-page professional “selfie” that shows an employer why you are a strong candidate for the job.
While it may be easier to snap a “selfie” than to write one, it’s worth a little time and effort to make your resume the best picture of yourself it can be. This is your opportunity to show a potential employer the experience, education, and skills that make you qualified for the job.
What if you don’t have any work experience to include on your resume? For students just finishing their career training or associate’s degrees, you can write a jobs-skills-focused resume. See our sample resume for an example of a skills-focused resume.
Once you are ready to start, use the following 10 resume tips to paint a self-portrait that really shines!
Step 1. Choose a design (but make a no-frills version too)
- Designed resumes: Most word processing programs have attractive resume design templates. Use this resume in cases where a person will be reading the resume—not a computer.
- Choose a professional-looking design with minimal frills and colors.
- Use a common font, such as Garamond, Calibri, or Helvetica.
- Submit this type of resume as a PDF, to ensure that the employer is seeing the same version you are seeing from your screen.
- No-frills resumes: Because many job applications are submitted online and scanned by a computer, you will also need a plain Word resume with no special formatting that can be “read” by computerized resume tracking systems.
- Use a common font like Calibri, Helvetica, or Garamond.
- Your design options are very limited, but you can still use the following symbols to separate the different parts of your resume: tildes (~), hyphens (-), equal signs (=) and boldface.
Step 2. Be sure all of your contact information is at the top.
- The typical order for your contact info is:
- Full name
- Mailing address
- Phone number (all 10 digits)
- Email address
- Website and/or LinkedIn address
- As your write your resume, think about your contact information. Is your voicemail greeting recorded in a business-like way? If not, re-record it now, in case a potential employer calls you.
- Is your email address professional-looking? If not, it’s important to get a new email address. You can still have your friends use the old address, but potential employers will want to see a respectable address. Try to include your first and last name in the address. Stay away from any clever or funny addresses.
Step 3. The objective statement: What can you bring to the job?
- Writing this statement can be hard! Some people prefer to save this step until the end, and that is okay too.
- What should your objective statement say? It should sum up your immediate career goal, and how your work will benefit the employer.
- Here’s an example: “As a new graduate of the American College for Medical Careers, I am trained in the latest Health Information Technology practices. I want to work in a medical office where I can use my medical billing and coding skills, my attention to detail, and my professionalism.”
Step 4. The summary statement: It’s helpful but optional.
- Summary statements are helpful for people with longer careers who have a lot of qualities that they want to summarize for the employer. If you are new to your field, you may not need to write this statement.
- Here’s an example: “A medical assistant with over 15 years of experience in hospitals, including emergency room support.”
Step 5. New to the field? How to create a skills-based resume.
- It can be intimidating to write a resume if you are brand new to the field. But don’t worry! You can write a skills-based resume that features the job skills that you can bring to the position.
- Think about your job training, and include the relevant job skills you learned. These may be patient/clinical skills, office/administrative skills, and customer services skills.
- Have you earned other skills, such as CPR or First Aid? If so, include them on the list too.
- Did you work in an unpaid internship or externship? This counts as real job experience! You can highlight what you did and learned on the internship. Always make it clear that the position was temporary and unpaid.
- Tip about keywords: Look at the job skills required in the job ad. If you have those skills, make sure you use the same wording as the job ad uses. For example, if a job ad for a Medical Coder job says, “hospital coding,” but your resume says “medical coding,” a computer may not pick up your skill. In this case, you should change “medical coding” to “hospital coding” so that it matches the job ad.
Step 6. Highlighting your job experience: Use powerful language
- First things first: gather the facts. You will want to include the names of your past employers, your job titles, and the years you worked there.
- For each job, write a brief summary of the value you brought to the employer. Use strong verbs and try to quantify your accomplishments.
- Need an example? Let’s say you worked at Home Depot.
- What NOT to say: A weak job description might say: “Was responsible for check out.”
- What to say instead: A strong job description might say: “Served over 200 clients every day with friendly customer-first attitude. Provided professionalism while helping customers with checkout, returns, and questions. Earned positive evaluations each quarter.”
Step 7. Feature your education and training: Put relevant training first
- Employers in the healthcare field will want to see where you received your training. Be sure to put your relevant healthcare training at the top of your education section.
- Include the name of your school, the program your completed, and the year you graduated.
- Did you receive any awards or honors while at school? Did you have a high GPA? If so, include this too!
Step 8. Think about people who may be your professional references
- In a separate document, you can start preparing a list of references. Depending on your job application, you may or may not need to provide references at the time of application.
- Consider three to five people who may serve as your job references. These people should be familiar with your professional skills. They might be instructors, school administrators, internship supervisors, former co-workers, or former bosses. (It should not be a friend or family member.) Contact each person and ask if they would be willing to be your reference. Most people will say yes!
- Collect the full names, job titles, and contact information for each of your references.
Step 9. You’re almost there: Remember the final touches!
- Keep your resume to one page in 11- or 12-point type.
- Be sure your fonts and point sizes are consistent throughout the document.
- Ask someone else to read your resume to check for grammatical mistakes and misspellings.
- Find an expert. If you have a Career Services department at your school, ask an adviser to read your resume. He or she might have some great advice on ways to improve your resume.
Step 10. Next up: Time for LinkedIn!
- Have you been on LinkedIn? Creating a LinkedIn profile is becoming a standard part of creating your online professional presence. It allows you to develop an online resume (profile) that is much more than a simple resume. Among the many possibilities, you can network with others, provide and receive professional endorsements, read and post relevant career-related articles, and search for job openings.
- When compiling your LinkedIn profile, you can re-use the wording from your resume, and create additional content as you see fit. Here are some tips for creating a LinkedIn profile. Good luck!
You’ve made it to the 10th tip! We hope this article has been helpful to you as you begin your job search!
This article is a service of the American College for Medical Careers, located in Orlando, Florida. We offer career-focused programs in medical assisting, diagnostic sonography, medical billing and coding, health information technology, and dental assisting. Contact one of our representatives to find out more!