In my position, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many massage therapy students, while making connections and partnerships with schools. A question I’ve received quite often is, “How do I make a potential employer pick me over a more experienced therapist if I’ve never worked in this field before?” My answer is, always, “It starts with a résumé.”
Self-Assess to Find the Right Job
Whether you plan to be a successful entrepreneur owning your own practice or working under someone else’s practice, having a topnotch résumé is a key item to starting your career. Your résumé is a quick advertisement of who you are.
This snapshot is intended to capture and emphasize your skills, abilities and accomplishments, yet it’s not meant to be an autobiography. It’s a selling tool—and you are the product. A professional résumé will help you find the right job for you.
But how do you even start?
With a self-assessment, of course. Make a list of all of your greatest accomplishments and personal qualities. When describing your skills and things you accomplished while in previous jobs, attempt to use action words, which will make you appear more dynamic and capable, putting you on the right path toward an interview.
For example, “Knowledgeable in hiring, training and supervising several employees” doesn’t sound as powerful as, “Hired, trained and supervised six employees.”
Think of the words and phrases you choose to describe yourself, as they will have an impact on the overall impression you will leave with potential employers.
Organize to Find the Right Job
Once you start organizing your résumé, keep in mind what specific job objective you are aiming for. Arrange the résumé in a way that will highlight your strongest or most extensive skills, specific to the position for which you are applying.
This means you need to make any of your previous employment experiences work for your future career goals. Typically, a résumé is organized in a chronological order, starting with your most recent position first.
For a student just starting out in the massage therapy industry, with no related previous employment experience, it might be more beneficial to arrange your experience by function, highlighting the types of work that you did to make you more attractive to potential employers.
Of course, everything you include must be honest and accurate, but if you happened to be a retail sales associate at a clothing store, you could use this experience to your advantage by writing something like, “Extremely personable; capable of building strong customer relationships to effectively guide customers to items specific to their needs.”
You can also use any student massage practical work you completed. Remember, you may not have 10 years’ experience under your belt, but you do have several hours of massage that you are required to complete—so include it.
Organize your résumé so it is easy to follow and has good flow. This may mean that you write shorter sentences; use bullets for each key point; and place key words or any main points of each statement at the beginning of a line.
Be sure to distinguish different categories with distinct marks such as simple bold, underlined or capitalized text.
Keep your résumé to one page. The initial scan of a résumé is generally about 20 seconds, which means if your résumé is longer than one page, your potential employer is less likely to read the parts you want her to read.
Be Complete to Find the Right Job
Other items you may want to incorporate on your résumé are pretty standard. Your name, address, telephone number and email address are always important, as possible employers need ways to contact you for an interview.
You will also want to include any qualifications you may have received while in school, plus any techniques you are trained in. Be sure to include any schooling you’ve completed, such as college courses and continuing education classes, although it may not be necessary to include high school education. Include any awards or professional affiliations you are part of.
Before you send your résumé off to your employer of choice, one thing I always recommend is to have a colleague, teacher, or an honest and knowledgeable friend take a look at your résumé first.
It is extremely possible for you to have various edits and drafts when creating this key piece of information and that is OK; in fact, it is what will make you more successful.
Questions you may want to ask your friend or consultant are: What is her first impression? Does the résumé look professional? Does it have an appropriate career objective? Are all the design elements like spacing and fonts used consistently throughout the document? Is everything spelled correctly? Are all the sections placed in the best order to highlight your strongest credentials?
Update to Find the Right Job
Try not to get too overwhelmed by your résumé. There are various tools online, ranging from tips to help write a résumé to sites that will do it for you.
Once you initialize this first step, and actually create a résumé, it will be easy to maintain. Update it at least every year, even if you don’t plan on using it anytime soon—because you never know when an opportunity will arise.
Having a well-written and well-thought-out résumé will set you on a path to a successful and rewarding career.
About the Author
Nichole Velez, L.M.T., is training and development manager for Massage Heights. She has written articles for massagemag.com including “3 False Beliefs About Massage Sales Success,” “Master These 3 Steps to Please Even the Most Unhappy Customer” and “The Road to Leadership Success.”