The past week has provided several opportunities for me to talk with professionals about job searches, resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and other career topics. I have been asked specific career-related questions and to review a variety of resumes. Each interaction has been appreciated and I have valued the conversations shared with so many. Several people are concerned with their job stability and updating their resume to have ready if needed while others are already searching for a new job and currently unemployed.
During these uncertain days, I am focused on what support I can offer (what is within my control) and one thing I can offer is my professional experience and review resumes for free. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing professionals and organizations over the past 25 years. I have been a part of several hiring committees, volunteer selection committees and have one on one interviewing, hiring, and conflict resolution experience and I have written about numerous career-focused topics. I actively research career trends and I want to share that knowledge with others in the hopes to alleviate some stress and offer my professional career support during this unprecedented time.
I have talked with people who were strangers until our recent interaction and I have had past co-workers reach out to ask advice. Even though each conversation has been unique and topics have ranged from limited experience concerns and resume content to how to condense three decades of experience onto a resume, there have been similarities too. The most common thread has been wanting to be prepared…prepared to submit the most professional resume and/or job application and answer interview questions confidently.
I have posted some tips on LinkedIn highlighting some of my past career-related blog posts and FAQ page, but I wanted to highlight some of the recent questions that have been asked a few times recently. I hope this answers some questions for others, but please reach out to me if you have a specific career or resume question.
Q: How can I prepare a professional resume and have a successful interview?
A: Being prepared, whether it’s writing a professional resume or cover letter or interviewing, comes down to being confident about your experience and skills. This confidence can be built by acknowledging your past accomplishments and what you bring to a new job. I always suggest reviewing your resume and matching your skills with the requirements of the job post. Updating your resume for each job and/or title you apply for confirms why you are applying for that specific job – you’re qualified and you’re interested. When you can clearly explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job you can confidently be prepared to answer most or all interview questions.
Q: How can I create a resume if I have little or no work experience?
A: Recent high school and college graduates ask this a lot, but so do those that have been out of the workforce for years. Depending on your situation school clubs, activities, sports, volunteering, or project-based experience such as lawn care, babysitting, etc. provide skills that are important in the professional workplace. Creating a resume that is focused on workplace skills you have learned through activities and highlighting your personal attributes will provide a perspective employer information about how you could fit into the position and/or company. If you volunteered to help process a mass-mailing project to new and current donors for a fundraising event you learned several skills; following directions, computer skills for mass mailings, organizational and deadline skills, etc. If you mowed lawns you have customer service skills, budget (billing and money handling) skills, possibly marketing skills. If you coordinated events for your community you most likely developed communication skills, teamwork skills, planning and problem-solving, and more. Focus on skills you are comfortable with and have developed through a variety of opportunities to help an employer see your potential and work-ethic skills.
Q: Do I have to include all of my past work history?
A: Typically, you will include work history for the past 10 years and/or what is relevant experience to your current career choice and job search. Focus on skills that you are comfortable with and have experience with that relate to the current position you are applying for. Please see my post on finding your resume balance for a complete answer and suggestions.
Q: What is ATS and why is it important to my resume format?
A: ATS is a software – Applicant Tracking System. The software is used by several job sites and employers to scan submitted resumes and applications for keywords from the posted job description. It’s important to confirm that your skills match the job posting and incorporate those keywords into your resume or application so the software will pick up on them when it scans your submission. When formatting your resume, you can include a brief job description under each position/company (highlighting an accomplishment) and create a list of skills used during that employment at the description end. You can also separate your skills in a new section of your resume and combine all of your skills from past employers into one list. The important thing is to use the keyword/terminology that matches your skills with the required ones in the job post.
Thank you so much for reading my latest post. Please let me know if you have any specific career-related questions or if you would like me to review your resume for free. Please comment below with questions or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Please stay safe, practice self-care, and focus on what you can control today.