Writing a resume is an important step in your job search
Finding a job is a multi-step process, and it will not happen overnight. The first step that most people take is to write a resume. A resume presents a portrait of you and your value to a potential employer. It outlines your skills, background experience, education, and career goals. It is your chance to show an employer how you can contribute to their organization.
With this in mind, give yourself a little time before diving into writing the resume. Look at sample resumes and gather your thoughts before starting. And remember, your resume should not be fixed in stone. You will need to change it slightly for each job application.
The following tips should give you an overview of the process. Make sure to read them before you start your resume, and then read them again after you have finished, so that you can spruce up any parts that you may have forgotten.
Remember, writing a resume takes time, but your resume is an important document, and you want to make it as strong as you can. This is your chance to shine!
1. Use Microsoft Word and keep the design simple
- It may be tempting to use an attractive designed template for your resume, but in most cases, it is best to have a very simple resume with no headers or footers, no graphics, and no other design elements. This is so that computerized resume tracking systems do not garble your words.
- Use a simple font like Calibri, Helvetica, or Garamond.
- Instead of graphics, you can use asterisks (*), tildes (~), hyphens (-), equal signs (=), and boldface to create headings, lists, and lines.
- When can you use a resume template? If you know that a specific person will be reading your resume instead of a computer, then you could use a professional-looking resume template, for instance if a hiring manager asks you to email a resume directly to him or her.
2. Type in your name and information at the top
- Include everything! That means your full name, mailing address, landline and/or cell phone number in 10-digit format, and your email address.
- In case the employer calls you, make sure your outgoing voice greeting sounds business-like. An employer may decide not to leave a message if your greeting sounds unprofessional.
- Look at your email address. Is it professional? If not, it’s time to get a new email address. If possible, use your first name and last name in the address. Avoid numbers and avoid clever or funny addresses.
3. Write an objective that shows what you can contribute to the field
- This might be the hardest part about writing your resume. You want to create a statement that summarizes your career goals and the value you can bring to the employer.
- Sample statement: “As a recent graduate of the Salter School, I am looking to apply my medical billing and coding skills in a medical billing office where I can provide my employer with efficient and accurate services.”
4. Include a summary statement (optional)
- Summary statements are not always necessary, particularly if you are just starting out in a field with little experience. For those with more experience, a summary statement can be seen as a chance to make a brief sales pitch about yourself.
- Sample summary statement: “A medical and billing professional with advanced computer skills and 20 years of experience in medical and surgical centers.”
5. No prior job experience? Be sure to feature your on-the-job skills
- If you are new to your field, and have no work experience to include on your resume, don’t worry! You can highlight the job skills that you have learned in your training program.
- Include clinical skills, office skills, and any other relevant skills. If you have any certifications, be sure to list them, with their exact title.
- If you completed an externship or internship, you can include this as actual job experience, as long as you are clear that it was an unpaid temporary position.
- Important: when you find a specific job to apply for, modify your skills list to use the same terminology as the job posting. For example, if the ad requires skills in “phlebotomy,” and your resume says you are skilled in the “blood draws,” a computer may not pick up your resume. To help your resume get noticed in this case, you should add the word “phlebotomy.” Most resumes submitted online will be scanned by a computer, so it is important that your resume matches the main keywords in the job ad.
6. Job experience: Make it stand out
- Be sure to include the key facts: name of employer, your job title, and the years you worked there.
- Write a one- or two-line summary of your job. Use strong verbs and try to describe what value you brought to the company.
- Let’s say you were a cashier at Target. A weak description might say: “Was responsible for checking out customers and maintaining accurate receipts.” A stronger description would be: “Assisted over 200 customers each day with checkout, questions, and returns. I used my customer service skills to help ensure that customers had a positive experience at the store.”
7. Education: highlight your high points
- Indicate the schools you attended, their city and state, and your graduation year. Put the most recent program at the top.
- List any certificates, degrees, honors, or awards that you have earned.
8. Consider your references
- Normally you don’t have to list your references on your resume. You can write “references available on request” at the bottom of your resume. But be prepared with a list of your references, in case a hiring manager wants to call them.
- Think of three people who know your professional skills. It could be teachers, administrators, former supervisors, former co-workers, or a mentor. Tell them you are looking for a job, and ask them if they would be willing to serve as a reference.
- Compile a list with your references’ names, job titles, and telephone numbers, so that the list is ready to send to a potential employer if you are asked to.
9. Don’t forget the final touches!
- Make sure your resume fits on one page (unless you are highly experienced and need a second page to describe your accomplishments).
- Check that your fonts and point sizes are consistent.
- Review for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Ask for advice. You could ask a career counselor, teacher, or simply a respected friend to read your resume. Ask them to look for mistakes and make suggestions for improvement.
10. Next step: LinkedIn!
What is LinkedIn? LinkedIn, in a nutshell, is an online, shareable, and interactive version of your resume. Using it effectively allows you to create a professional network that can serve you throughout your entire career.
Once you are happy with the wording of your resume in Word, you can begin compiling your LinkedIn profile by cut-and-pasting the information.
LinkedIn also encourages you to include much more information about yourself than a typical resume allows. Read tips for creating a LinkedIn profile, and get started!
We hope this article helps to take some of the mystery out of writing a resume for today’s job market. Best of luck in your job search!
This article was provided by the Salter School, a career-focused school with campuses located in Tewksbury, Fall River, Malden, and New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Salter School provides job training and career services for adults wishing to pursue careers as professional medical assistants, health claims specialists (medical billing and coding), massage therapists, and pharmacy technicians. Contact the Salter School for more information on our programs.