Whether you have years of experience or are just looking for your first job, building a resume can be a daunting task. Even though you can find templates to help you outline your resume, knowing what to put in it is the bigger task. If you’re short on experience, you may need to be creative and consider what you do bring to the table. Both AHIMA and AAPC have great resources through their organization for getting that your first job in medical coding and billing. AAPC specifically offers an Xternship program to help newly certified coders and billers find experience in the industry.

No matter which job search method you do use, you’re going to need a resume. Here are some tips to help put this important document together to land that job.

Building Your First Resume

When you don’t have experience, it’s easy to get discouraged with your resume. Make sure it looks as professional as possible.  At the top, you’ll list your name and contact info. Make sure your email address is professional. Instead of happykitty16@somewhere.com, get an email for business correspondence. A combination of initials and your last name is a good way to identify yourself. Double check your phone number and email to ensure you’ve typed them correctly.

Many resume builders want you to include an objective. Live Career recommends that you consider skipping it. Stating that your objective is to work in the industry is rather redundant when you’re applying for an entry-level position. If you do include an objective, personalize it to the organization to which you’re applying. It should only be about two sentences if you do put one on the resume. Here’s a sample objective:

“To use my medical coding skills with ABC office to gain experience while providing valuable office support.”

The next section will be your qualification and skills. Focus on what you can do. Put these things first so that recruiting managers don’t have to look for your education and certifications. Use the acronyms, CPC-A, CSC, RHIT, or whichever credentials you have. HR managers will understand and the computer will be looking for them in the keyword search. If you know your typing speed, include it. Be specific with your particular skills in coding and billing, for example, ICD-10 or HCPCS Level 1. Look at the position to which you’re applying to learn which skills to put first This would be a good place to include special skills, such as being bilingual, which in today’s job market will make you stand out.

Following the skills, include information about your education with dates. If you haven’t graduated yet, you can use the phrase – “anticipated graduation.” Include your continuing education credits. Not only is this part of your experience, it shows a commitment to improvement. Don’t just list that you earned 20 CEUs, but list the titles of the workshops.

Next, list the work experience you’ve had, especially in the industry. Any medical experience can be beneficial on your medical coding and billing resume. You don’t have to list every single job you’ve ever held, but if you worked at one place for a long time, this demonstrates a commitment to an employer. You want to include it. Start with your externship while you were in school and work backwards.

Know Current Trends in Resumes

Borders and fancy fonts may look nice on your resume, but today’s HR managers are not going to be impressed. According to Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer and job expert, you need to keep the information easy to process. Here are some other trends of which you should take notice, no matter what industry you work in.

  • Don’t clutter your resume.
  • Keep fonts consistent throughout the page.
  • Make different sections obvious
  • Watch your grammar and spelling
  • Use relevant keywords to get past the first screening

Regularly Update Your Resume

Once you’ve built your first resume, keep it up-to-date by taking time every six months to a year to add any education or credentials that you’ve earned. Don’t wait until you’re changing jobs to think about all the things you’ve done with your current employer. You will remember more of what you’ve accomplished and won’t be stressed when you’re ready to move up the corporate ladder.