Job Search 101: Resume Writing Tips

Image of man reading a résumé

The first thing most people do when they decide to seek out new employment is either write a resume, or in the case of seasoned veterans in the field, start scrolling through the old files on their computer to find the resume they wrote last time around.

In either case, it’s easy to think that this is just a perfunctory act – something you have to do to get your foot in the door. And with all the openings in respiratory care right now, you could easily figure you don’t really need to waste a lot of time on it.

But nothing could be farther from the truth. Your resume is the first thing prospective employers are going to see, and you want to make sure you put your best foot forward.

Here are six tips you can use to make sure your resume is up to 2022 standards –

  1. Realize who (or more accurately what) will be reading your resume first: Most large employers these days use applicant tracking software (ATS) to scan resumes for keywords important to the job in question. Keeping that in mind as you write your resume could be the difference between the reject pile and the pile that gets sent on to a hiring manager. What are these ATS systems looking for? Most are programmed to seek out keywords that relate directly to the open position. You can get a good idea of what those keywords are by carefully reading the job listing and incorporating the things the employer is looking for into your resume. Depending on the job, that could be anything from “self-starter” and “team player” to specific degrees, credentials, and certifications.
  2. Start with the right contact information: You will want to place your full name, address, phone number, and personal email address at the top of your document. When it comes to your email address, make sure it sounds professional. For example, sounds way better than If you are a member of a professional social networking platform, such as Linkedin or AARConnect, you can include a link to your profile page as well. Just make sure it is up-to-date and contains meaningful information about your career that you would like a prospective employer to know.
  3. Format your resume for easy reading: While it is true your resume is likely to be read first by an ATS, it will hopefully reach a set of real eyes as well, and since those eyes will be faced with multiple resumes for each open position, you want to ensure they can glean the key points with only a quick scan. Use a plain font, a type size people can read without squinting (10 or 12 is good), flush left your content, and be consistent and judicious in your use of bold face and italics. For example, if you bold face one heading, do the same for all the others. But don’t overuse bold face and italics, as that just defeats the purpose, which is to draw attention to a few key points.
  4. Decide on your chronology: In most cases, you’ll begin with your contact information, follow it with a brief “Resume Summary” citing the value you can add to the employer in three sentences or less, and then go into your education and experience. Most experts recommend addressing education first, and putting your highest degree at the top of the list and working down from there. Ditto for experience: put your most recent job first, and don’t go back more than 10 or 15 years (unless the job requires a specific number of years of experience; in that case, go back that far).
  5. Go for a tailor-made result, but not at the cost of everything else: Yes, you do want to tailor your resume to the specific job opening (and yes, this means you need to tweak it for each job you apply for), but you should also cite your major achievements at your previous places of employment, even if they don’t relate directly to the job description. For example, including your role on the hospital’s Ventilator Associated Pneumonia Work Group will resonate with any hiring manager, despite the job description. Be sure to cite the results of the work as well, such as “the protocol reduced VAP by 85%.” If you have been active with the AARC or other health-related organizations, consider adding a section to highlight these roles as well.
  6. Keep it short and to the point: Unless you are seeking a high level management position or a faculty or department head position at a college or university, you should keep your resume to just a page or two. Remember, the hiring manager is going to go through lots of other resumes too, and won’t have the patience for anything that’s excessively long.

Following these six tips can help you write a resume that will get seen, and that bodes well for an eventual face-to-face interview as well.

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