So you’re ready to start your first job as an entry-level athletic trainer, and suddenly realize that your professors didn’t teach you something really important: how to apply to your first athletic training job. Because of sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and the NATA job board, it’s easy to find job listings, but it’s harder to stand out when other applicants can easily find the same positions.
So here are 10 basic rules of thumb when writing an entry-level athletic training resume. The number of college grads who don’t even proofread their resumes is astounding, so following these simple steps will make you look great in the eyes of potential employers.
1. Keep it to one page
Multi-page resumes are for professionals with more than a decade of experience. During graduation season, HR departments receive a lot of entry-level applicants, which leaves them with little time to look at your resume, if at all. So keep it to one page.
2. Customize your resume for each job
This may be time-consuming, but it’s worth it. For example, if you’re applying for a residency position at a local hospital, you might want to leave out the experience you had as a parking attendant one summer. It’s irrelevant, and a waste of space on the only page you have to work with. However, if the job description calls for you to manage supply ordering, it would make sense to include your relevant experience.
3. Keep it chronological
There are two main types of resumes. Chronological listing is when you list your work experience in reverse chronological order, so that begins with the most recent employment. Functional is when you list your experience according to its relevance to the position. For college graduates, listing their internships/jobs in reverse order of dates makes it easier for HR recruiters to keep track of your career progress. Since you may not have developed specific skills, such as management AND supply ordering, AND clinical instruction, a functional format wouldn’t work unless you’ve worked for years.
4. Highlight your accomplishments, rather than day-to-day tasks
This one is crucial. You probably thought answering phones and filing were the most boring things in the world. So do HR recruiters, if you write it that way. Consider something like “created an efficient filing system.” Never lie, but think big picture. Your filing and organizing helped your superiors access files and get their jobs done more quickly, even though you were unaware of it at the time. But you probably never thought of it that way.
5. Bullet point accomplishments
Make your resume as easy to read as possible. Under each job, bullet point your accomplishments instead of writing one long paragraph. An HR person will only skim your resume if you were not referred internally, so large blocks of text will not make it easy for them to say yes.
6. Spelling errors are a BIG NO NO
I have spoken to a number of HR people and read a number of books that include quotes from recruiters, and they all say the same thing. If you have typographical errors on your resume, you will get rejected. Attention to detail is a skill that many jobs require, and if you couldn’t make time to reread your resume, how would you find the time to reread that important email on the job?
7. Your educational experience goes at the BOTTOM
Yes, your education took up the last few years of your life, so it’s important to you. But employers usually want to know about your work experience first, so put that at the very top. It’s different if you’re writing a CV, which focuses more on research and educational experiences.
8. Have a “skills” section
You should list your accomplishments rather than the day-to-day tasks at each job you’ve held. Therefore, a section on your skills would help fill in the gaps. So if you know how to use HTML, Excel, and PowerPoint, and you are fluent in Spanish and French, this is where you would fit that information.
9. Don’t have an “objective” section
As an entry-level college grad, you don’t want to box yourself into a corner, and an objective statement is the first way to do just that. Say you’re applying for a position that was filled yesterday, but the position is still listed as open on the website. If there’s a position open in the department that your skills would qualify you for, but you had the objective of being a “women’s basketball athletic trainer,” your resume will probably go in the trash instead of being forwarded to the athletic department.
10. DON’T LIE
Many people have already told me that a resume is just a conversation starter, or that they exaggerated what they had been doing. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. During the interview, you’ll be caught off guard if the interviewer asks about something you listed on your resume. It’ll be embarrassing. As a result, you will have wasted both your time and the employer’s time, so you are unlikely to be hired there again.