Written by: Jeff Lavender, MLS(AMT)
There is an adage that a resume gets you in the door, but the interview gets you the job. However, an effective resume can not only get you in the door, but it may also move you to the head of the line for that job. It’s up to you to create an effective selling tool that lets an employer see at a glance your skills and experience.
Start with research. Answer these questions:
- In what career field do I want to find a job?
- Where are the jobs, and who is hiring?
- What qualifications and credentials do I need to have?
- How can I best market my skills and qualifications?
Obtain a copy of the job announcement with the description. Highlight keywords, including qualifications, skills, and the credentials required or recommended for the job. You’ll need this information for your resume.
Choose one of four basic resume formats
- Chronological focuses on your work history with the most recent position first.
- Functional focuses on your skills and experience, with skills grouped into functional areas.
- Combination combines the best of chronological and functional.
- Targeted is customized to a specific job or position.
Pick the best format for the job for which you are applying. For example, if you want a specific position, use targeted. If you’re attending a job fair and aren’t sure who will be there, the functional or combination might be best. If the employer is more interested in your career progression, then chronological is probably best.
Next, determine how your resume will be submitted.
A traditional paper resume is printed on white paper and handed in or mailed. Some tips for a paper resume:
- No more than one or two pages. If two pages, use two separate sheets of paper.
- Keep it brief, clean, and easy to read.
- Use 10–12-point font size, and only Arial or Times New Roman.
- Effectively use bold, italics, and capitalization to highlight keywords or phrases.
- Proofread and spell-check your paper several times. A software program like Microsoft Word can help you with spelling and grammar.
- Place your name and page number on the second page, if you have one.
- Always write from your own perspective, but don’t use “I”. Start with action verbs instead.
- Make the page look professional with good visual appeal. Be creative but be professional.Don’t lie or stretch the truth. Be able to defend every word on the resume.
A scannable resume may be emailed to the employer or uploaded on a website. It is different from the traditional paper resume in that it is NOT necessarily visually appealing. Be sure to follow the employer’s format. The goal is to make it scan into their system. If it doesn’t scan properly, you may not be considered for the job. Some tips:
- Use Arial or Times New Roman 11 point or larger font.
- Do not use columns, tables, symbols (%, &,).
- Justify everything, including the header, to the left of the page.
Electronic resumes are typically sent as email attachments. Use Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF), unless otherwise requested.
Another form of electronic requires you to upload your resume into self-populating fields. It is best to type your resume, and then copy and paste the pertinent information into the appropriate fields. This way your word processing software can assist you with spelling and grammar first. After populating the fields, double-check to verify that every field was properly and completely populated.
Software self-populating programs typically work by scanning for keywords. Be sure to include keywords from the job announcement and from the company’s website.
Building a Resume
A typical resume includes the following sections:
- Contact information in the header
- Career objective statement
- Summary of qualifications
- Employment history
- Education and training
- Other skills and extracurricular activities
Include your contact information at the top of the first page. Type your full name using bold font. Include your AMT credential after your name eg, Devon Smith MLS(AMT). On the second line provide your location. For privacy reasons you may want to avoid sharing your full mailing address; simply listing your town and state is acceptable. On the next line provide your phone number. On the last line include a good email address that you plan to keep for a while. If necessary, sign up for a new, professional email address.
Career Objective Statement
A well-written career statement is targeted to the specific job you are seeking such as “Seeking a position as a Medical Assistant for Century Healthcare.” This statement needs to be short and to the point. It should tell the employer what you can do for them based on your qualifications and credentials.
Summary of Qualifications
This summary highlights the key skill areas that support the job you are seeking. It is best written in bullet format that starts with an action verb. This is your opportunity to brag about your qualities.
Start by looking for those keywords in the job announcement and write your bullet statements to highlight the keywords. Draw the reader’s attention to the specific skills that you can offer the company including other languages spoken. Examples include, “Certified as a Medical Assistant with AMT.” “Worked as a medical assistant in a busy orthopedic clinic.” “Successfully completed the EKG certificate course with AMT.”
Be sure to list your certifications and licenses as they apply to the job. In a digital version, include a link to your digital badge from AMT.
In the experience section, highlight your achievements and results as they relate to the job. This is not a repeat of the job description, but an opportunity to brag about what you’ve done so far and what you can do for the company. Use statistics, numbers, and examples to illustrate your achievements. Start each bullet with an action verb. Each statement should describe the value-added results that you affected and the action you took to achieve those results. Do not state what you were responsible for, but rather what you actually did.
Examples include, “Reorganized the clinic supply room saving over $10,000 per year in excess supplies", “Trained and supervised three new medical assistants that effectively increased patient load by 40%.”
This section lists the dates, position held, location and experience gained for each job you previously held. If you’re using a functional resume, do not include this section. Only list employment for up to the past ten years and those that are relevant to the job. List these chronologically with the most recent first. Only list the years of employment, not the months.
At the end of this section, you may provide the URL of your LinkedIn profile if you’ve completed it properly. This can provide additional information to the employer if they wish to learn more about you. Here’s some advice on using LinkedIn.
Education and Training
List any degrees or certificates you’ve earned after high school. Also, list any special honors you achieved or an award you won. If you didn’t already list them in the summary section, list your certifications and licenses along with any college coursework relevant to the job.
Other Skills and Extracurricular Activities
This section is optional and only used if it applies to the job you are seeking. Include any volunteer work and hobbies that are relevant.
Do Not List
Some things you should never list on a resume include:
- Marital status
- Information on your children, spouse, or significant other
- Your age
- Your race
- A photograph of yourself
- Religious and political affiliations
- Your height or weight
- Salary for previous jobs or a requested salary
Each resume should be accompanied by a cover letter. The purpose is to introduce yourself and help the employer understand how your skills, experiences, and abilities will match the company’s needs. Like the resume, each letter should be individually written for each job for which you are applying.
First, identify the specific job you are seeking, and how you found out about it.
Next, using the job announcement, match your skills, experiences, and abilities with those required for the job. You may need to do some additional research on the company to complete this.
Finally, emphasize your interest in the job and state how you plan to follow up with the company later.
Use a standard business letter format. Software programs such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs have templates you can use. Be sure to proofread it several times to avoid typographical errors. Keep the letter to less than one page. Sign in black or blue ink, send the original, and keep a copy.
Address the letter to the hiring authority, often the human resources director, and be sure to include their title. Try to determine the actual person’s name, but if that’s not possible, address it to the title of their position (e.g., Director of ______).
The Job You Want is Within Reach
Following this guide to create an effective resume and cover letter, along with your education, training, and valuable AMT professional certification will get you in the door and into that dream job. Good luck and happy hunting!
- Campbell, G. On the Job Front. USAA Magazine, Fall 2011.
- Net Online. Medical Assistants. Retrieved from https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00. November 2022.
- U.S Department of Labor, Veteran’s Employment and Training Service. Transition Assistance Program, Workshop Participant Manual. November 2002.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Veteran’s Employment and Training Service. TAP Supplement, TAP Workshop Participant Manual. September 2007.
Jeff Lavender, MLS(AMT), is a retired US Army Sergeant Major with 29 years of active-duty service. His career as a Medical Laboratory NCO in the Army was complemented by his volunteer work at all levels in AMT, including serving as the AMT National President. He currently is employed by Pikes Peak State College as a phlebotomy instructor.