— Katharine Whitehorn, British Journalist
Resumes can be tricky, frustrating, overwhelming, and time consuming. Sometimes it looks like a laundry list of skills with no personality, and others a myriad of experiences with little skills attributed to them. I personally love reviewing resumes. Over the years I have reviewed many friends, co-workers, and strangers resumes. It is your ticket in the door, so you better have a good one.
Let’s take the guess work out of what you should and shouldn’t worry about when building your resume.
I would like to preface by saying if you think you want to jump career fields, you should be thinking about each of these areas long before making the jump. As always be strategic about the choices you make, keeping them aligned with your long-term vision.
Professional Experience and Transferable Skills
If you have been in the work force for several years with a variety of experience this is the best place to shine a light on your unique talents. Applicants will self-diagnose themselves as unqualified because they won’t take into account their many transferable skills. (Women are much more likely to do this than men by the way.)
Transferable Skills could Include:
If your stuck, take a peek at this list of 50+ transferable skills on Live Career.
It’s important to use this section to draw a thread through those experiences, connecting them to the position you’re applying for. Take every opportunity to echo the job posting in your cover letter and job descriptions. Do not copy or use direct words from the posting but curate your resume to be harmonious with the employer’s description. “You may have plenty of skills but whatever isn’t already on the job description and would not be an asset to the role are definitely not necessary. Keep the most applicable skills/experience at the top of those sections” says Noelle Johnson founder of My Interview Buddy.
Look for “transferable skills” in your volunteer and personal experiences that may be relevant to the job you’re applying for. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit and balance their budget, or you spend time coaching youth to excel, whatever it is don’t leave it out. “Showing that you were able to use your super professional powers for good always looks great on a resume, and let’s a hiring manager know a little more about you” says Johnson.
Volunteering is great, and if you are active in your community you should highlight that on resume. But keep in mind how relevant the experience is. If it is out of date or completely unrelated to the position you are interested in, it may be better to exclude. Instead use this space on the resume to expand on your skills, experience, and education that is in line with your career path.
This Indeed article provides a short guide for working your volunteerism including:
Time – Friend or Foe?
As you become a more tenured professional the list of experiences, skills, and education grows. It can be hard to determine which of those should make the resume. You may also begin to evaluate the dates associated with them. It has become a debate among professionals as to the relevance of the dates of employment and education. While extensive experience is often required for high level positions the dates on your resume may be putting you at a risk of conscious and unconscious discrimination.
When it comes to education the general feedback here seems to be that unless you work in a very technical field most recruiters and employers are looking to see that your education meets base line requirements. They are not usually concerned with what your degree was in, or what your GPA was (assuming you have been out of college for a few years). That being said; if you have a degree, certificate, or completed training that is relevant to the job make sure to highlight it. Look to this Glassdoor article for more tips on time.
While the above are all important tips on what to include and how to include them, there are also many things to leave off. Monster has an article that includes these items such as:
Check out My Interview Buddy and more on Noelle. My Interview Buddy offers live interview and career coaching, mock interview coaching, resume and cover letter review and LinkedIn services. She has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Glassdoor, and more.
We want to hear from you! What has been successful for you in building an brand for your business or for yourself?