8 RBT Resume Writing Tips to Jumpstart Your ABA Therapist Career
Think of your resume as your ticket to a career as a registered behavior technician (RBT). Craft it well, and you’ll be on your way in no time. Make a mistake (or two), and your trip could be delayed.
Why do resumes matter so much? Consider this. In April 2020, there were almost five unemployed people per job opening. Given this flood of paperwork, recruiters must make snap decisions. Most look at resumes for just 7.4 seconds before making a decision.
Let these statistics motivate you. The world needs more RBTs, and you could be just the person a company has been searching for. Let’s walk through the steps you should take to ensure you stand out from the crowd.
Tip 1: Start With the Job Description
Just as you worry and fret over a resume, an employer carefully crafts a job description. Parse your potential employer’s language, and you can find hidden gems that will help you land the job.
More than 90% of employers use electronic systems to screen applicants. Computers pick out keywords from the job description, and they look for matches in your resume. Only about 25% of resumes make it out of computer systems like this and into the hands of recruiters. Make sure you’re part of this elite group. Pay attention to:
- Job titles. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) defines the RBT acronym as registered behavior technician. But some employers call their RBTs registered behavioral technicians. Ensure that you call yourself by the name your potential employer prefers.
- Tasks. Pull key phrases from the job description and put them in your resume. If your potential employer uses words like “BACB ethics,” “skill acquisition programs,” “discrete trial teaching,” and “visual communication systems,” those words should appear in your resume too.
- Additional qualifications. Some employers may ask for proof of CPR certification, reliable transportation, or the ability to pass a background check. Find a way to address all of these must-have items in your resume.
Tip 2: Consider Your Certification
Your potential employer should describe the educational background you need to get started. Some employers require a bachelor’s degree. Many demand registration from BACB. Others need proof of both.
The more education you have, the better prepared you’ll be to handle the demands of work as an RBT. An educated worker also needs a smaller investment from an employer. You won’t need to take classes (or time away from work for your education) if you’re already trained and certified.
List all of your academic achievements clearly, and if you are certified, don’t be shy about mentioning that multiple times in your resume.
Tip 3: State Your Objective
You’ve just graduated from a training program, but you have little real-world experience as an RBT. What should you do? Consider opening your resume with a quick summary of who you are, why you’re entering the field, and why you would be a good fit.
A summary like this allows you to pop in a few crucial keywords from the job description. And it can help you explain why you are applying for a job in a field you haven’t worked in previously.
Consider including these tidbits in your objective:
- Job title. Cite the name of the position you want, mirroring language from the job description.
- Education. Name where you went to school, and identify if this is a training program authorized by BACB. Name your certification, too.
- Tasks. List a few of the daily job duties you’re qualified to perform based on your education and the employer’s job description.
If you have years of experience, you may not need a statement like this. Your work can stand alone as proof of your talent. But if you’re new to the field, this is a smart addition.
Tip 4: List Applicable Experience
Of people who lie on their resumes, 22% do so because they feel they lack experience. Remember that lies have consequences. You might land a job, but you could lose it when your deceit is discovered. Rather than lying, look for ways to make prior jobs applicable.
Consider everything you’ll do as an RBT:
- Assess. As an RBT, you’ll describe a client’s behavior in terms you can measure and reassess to look for improvement. If you’ve worked as a teacher or instructional aide, you’ve done something similar in the past.
- Report. You’ll generate paperwork about your progress that complies with legal and regulatory requirements. If you’ve worked as an administrative assistant in the past, you have applicable skills.
- Communicate. You’ll work with students and parents. If you’ve worked with people at any point in your career, you likely have this skill.
- Data analysis. You’ll look over a student’s test scores, read reports from parents, and do your own assessments. If you’ve worked in data entry, education, or computing, you’ve handled these tasks before.
- Execute a plan. As an RBT, you’ll be working with ideas developed by others. You won’t diagnose conditions or prescribe treatment plans, but you’ll ensure orders are followed. You have applicable skills if you’ve worked in any hierarchical environment, such as the military or law enforcement.
Dig into the jobs you’ve held and really think about how you can discuss them in a meaningful way.
Tip 5: Get Specific
Some prior positions may come with statistics you can cite. If you ran a classroom with 10 special-needs students, for example, that could help you prove that you know how to handle a community.
Facts, figures, and numbers can help you demonstrate your value in real-time. Look for ways to sprinkle impact statements into your resume. But proceed with caution.
You may be tempted to discuss specific clients and their families. You might even be enticed to ask them to speak up for you in quotable sound bites. Remember that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to your work, and getting specific about patients could result in a violation. Talk with your current employer about waivers before including anything considered identifiable info.
Tip 6: Find Your Soft Skills
Almost half of the resumes companies get are from people who don’t meet skills requirements. Omission could be responsible. So-called soft skills are crucial for RBTs, and companies won’t know you have them unless you cite them.
Your applicable soft skills might include the following:
If you can cite these soft skills in your job descriptions, that’s ideal. Better yet, create a section within your resume devoted to your skills.
Tip 7: Proofread Like a Pro
Treat your resume with care, and read every word you’ve written multiple times to ensure accuracy and clarity. Even tiny typographical errors can make a big difference. Your recruiters are looking for examples of your professionalism and competency. Don’t give them a reason to doubt you.
Once your checks are through, use a tool like this to ensure you’ve popped in enough keywords to get past the computer scanners. If you haven’t, keep revising.
Tip 8: Be Cautious With Design
Your words are perfect. Do you need a fancy design to set things off?
Remember that computers walk through your resume before humans do. Set your words into a graphics program (such as InDesign), and the computer will see nothing but images and no keywords at all. Obfuscate your resume with too many fonts, colors, and emojis, and the computer may reject your resume as too fluffy.
Keep the design sparse, professional, and clean. The computers (and the humans that come next) will thank you.
Number of Unemployed Persons Per Job Opening, Seasonally Adjusted. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Eye-Tracking Study. (2018). Ladders.
Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent. (September 2021). Harvard Business School on Managing the Future of Work and Accenture.
How to Make Sure Your Resume Is Seen by a Real Person. (August 2016). Association for Talent Development.
Registered Behavior Technician. Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Millennials Lie Twice as Much as Everyone Else on Resumes. Here’s What They Lie About. (August 2019). Go Banking Rates.
The Most Common HIPAA Violations You Should Be Aware Of. (January 2022). HIPAA Journal.
Survey: 42 Percent of Job Applicants Don’t Meet Skills Requirements, But Companies Are Willing to Train Up. (March 2019). PR Newswire.
Free Resume Scanner. Cultivated Culture.