Special Situations on Your Resume

by Donny Grover

Special Situations on Your Resume by Mass DoWD

This section examines areas of resume writing that are potentially challenging. The goal is to provide you with ideas, suggestions, and advice on how to handle these special issues.

Displaying Career Changers on Your Resume

Employers admit to being picky and giving preference to the applicantwhose experience and expertise are in the same industry or who has workexperience in a company that is similar to theirs. Entering a new career ornew industry is not impossible, it just requires planning, researching, and perseverance.

First, you need to identify the skills that can be transferred into the new in-dustry, field, or company. Then you must identify specific employers withinthe new industry that need someone with your skills, qualifications and accomplishments. If you live in an area where there is a demand for your spe-cific skills, employers will be less hesitant about calling you in for aninterview, even though you do not have prior experience working in a similar company.

Once you have identified specific employers, you must research the company to learn about the types of employees they hire, work environment character-istics, company financial picture, and general company/culture information. To the extent that this information is similar to your work experiences, it canbe woven into your employment history and accomplishment statements.

If you would like more information on researching companies, attend a NET-WORKING workshop or if you would like more information on choosing anew career, sign up for the CAREER EXPLORATION workshop. These andother workshops are being offered at many Career Centers.

A suggested resume format for career changers is the reverse chronological resume. This format is useful when the job you are applying for requires different skills than what you have or simply the same skills but with a different emphasis. The reverse chronological resume starts with a qualifications statement , then the education section, and ends with the employment history. This format allows you to market your transferable skills in the qualifications statement.

Looking for a Jobin a New Industry

Getting a job in a new industry is not as difficult as changing careers completely. Through research, informational interviewing and networking, you can develop a strong foundation to change industries. Employers have said it is easier to change between industries if you are in the following occupations:

  • manager
  • educator
  • marketing
  • fundraiser
  • accountant
  • sales
  • administrative support
  • MIS
  • finance

Depending on the types of skills you have, it may be possible to gain experience in a new industry through short term contract work. This provides you with the opportunity to learn more about the industry while simultaneously creating networking contacts.

If you are in an industry that is hit hard by a recession, sometimes there are more opportunities for you in another industry.

When writing your resume and cover letter for the employer in a new field, focus on the skills that are easily transferred from your prior job. You mustfirst analyze what you did in your former position and the skills that you utilized. Then you can realize how those are the same skills necessary to do the job you are seeking.

In some cases you will have to acquire new skills through training, either onthe job or through a training course. In changing industries, you may be using a combination of old skills that you already have brought with you to the new job and new skills that you will need to learn.

In researching a new industry, be aware of the skills that are needed and the ones that you have. Then focus on this common link and be sure to emphasize it in your resume and cover letter. You will write a better resume andstand a better chance at getting an interview if you can demonstrate theemployer’s need for you! Whenever possible, highlight previous skills and experience in accomplishment statements that are relevant to the new industry and/or occupation. Make a connection between your past work experiences and the new position you are seeking. Talk about aspects of your previous employment that match the necessary skills needed in the occupational area that you are pursuing.

Handing Employment Gaps on Your Resume

There is no real simple solution to the problem of gaps in employment andresume writing. Employers themselves express conflicting viewpoints on how to address periods of unemployment. Statistics show that most adults have either experienced unemployment themselves or have close family or friends who have. Therefore, some employers have an understanding of employment gaps due to job seeking and tend to be more comfortable with these gaps.

Employers naturally scrutinize resumes for gaps and become suspicious when they find them. They do not agree on the best way of handling gaps in employment nor could they provide an example of a resume that successfully treated gaps.

Most employers prefer to see an explanation of employment gaps in thecover letter. Some suggested that job seekers incorporate a two or three sentence explanation in the body of the resume. However, very few of them had ever received resumes offering this type of information. Employers did comment that most job seekers do not address gaps in employment in the cover letter or the resume.

Employers did say that if your skills are in demand and/or you have quality networking contacts then gaps in employment become less significant. Also, they look at the length and number of your employment gaps. The more gaps you have and the longer they are, the more of a disadvantage it is to you. Employers have a tendency to view gaps in employment for women withless suspicion because they assume it was for child care purposes.

Keep in mind that your goal is to get an interview. Employers generally grant interviews based on their perception of your skills and qualifications andwhat you can do for their company or organization. Therefore, you want employers to focus on your skills and accomplishments. In the interview, be prepared to explain your gaps in employment in a positive light.

Handling Job Hopping on Your Resume

There are some professions where it is acceptable to have numerous employers or many short term jobs. Construction and temporary employment are two examples. In most cases, however, having numerous jobs in a short amount of time will be detrimental to your job search. It is a serious issue for employers because of the cost of training you and then replacing you. Employers may label you a job hopper if you only stay with a company for a short time.

If there has been a particular reason why you held many different jobs, mention this in your cover letter. One example is “hot and cold” industries such as politics or construction. Additionally, if you have been laid off due to alack of work and that is why you have held several different jobs, be sure to mention this in your cover letter as well.

Emphasize why you are committed to working long term in the job you are applying for. Highlight a common set of skills that you have utilized and that the company is seeking. Also, highlight what your former employers liked most about you.

Use a combination or a functional resume format. If you held more than one job in a year, list only the job that is relevant to the position you are applying for, when possible. If you have held similar jobs, summarize them under one period of time in your employment history. This would be possible only if your work was contractual or you were working for a temporary agency.

Older Workers and Resumes

Recently, mature workers have found the labor market tough to enter or re-enter. Some employers tend to hire a college graduate and train rather than hire an already trained worker. There is considerable savings in payroll at the expense of experience and expertise. Mature workers must focus on how they are going to benefit the company. How will you save the company money? Time? Resources?

The most critical component of the job search is not to get discouraged! Persevere!! Always remember that if you feel an employer has discriminated against you because of your age, do you really want to work for that person?

Networking should be a top priority to the older worker. Be sure to place alot of time and energy in developing and following up with networking contacts. Never mention your age in your resume or cover letter. Also, leave out dates of graduation from high school and college if you feel that this will enable someone to determine your age at a glance. However, never leave dates of employment out because this creates suspicion on the part of the employer.

College Graduate’s Resumes

College graduates are being recruited by major companies and the resume is the tool for getting the first interview. College graduates must tailor their resume to the desired position. Any experience which used the hard and/or soft skills necessary to do the job you are applying for should be incorporated into your resume.

Summer/Part-Time/Youth Employment on Your Resume

If you are re-entering the work force or just coming out of college, you may have to include summer or part-time work. This is effective provided that the experience relates to the job you want. It is important to demonstrate through accomplishment statements that you have the skills, abilities, and qualifications to do the job. If you were working part-time for more than two years list these jobs in the chronological sequence. Use the cover letter to explain part-time work situations or indicate that it was part-time work on the resume by putting “part-time” in parentheses after the employer’s name.

Young people with little or no work history should review their work experience and emphasize part-time employment, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities, such as clubs, team sports and elected positions. Stress your accomplishments and highlight areas or activities that demonstrate positive and motivational attitudes that are important to employers. Employers are looking for people who are flexible and adaptable Demonstrate your ability to solve problems, think through a situation, complete tasks, and to be solution oriented. Stress that you are self-directed and will require minimal supervision. Most of all convey to the employer that you are reliable, dependable, and have strong basic work habits.

Military Experience on Your Resume

Concerning military experience, the National Business Employment Weekly(NBEW) states that the most common resume writing challenge for veterans is converting their military experience into marketable skills for the civilian work force. It may be difficult for veterans to choose experiences that exemplify their particular skills because a lot of veterans have had varied military backgrounds. It is important to select and match the skills and qualifications to the skills and qualifications that are necessary to do the job for which you are applying. If you are a veteran, be sure to seek out the Veterans Specialist at a One-Stop Career Center.

Homemaker Experience on Resumes

Employers do not expect you to give an account of your years unemployed while bringing up your family. It is to your advantage to identify other types of activities you were involved in and the type of skills, qualifications, and accomplishments you have to offer. Consider the employer and the position and then try to bridge your skills with the needs of the employer. It is important to keep the employer focused on how you will specifically contribute to the organization. Emphasize your skills that are directly related to your workplace qualifications.

When you have little full-time work experience, or have been unemployed along time, part-time and volunteer work should be emphasized. Additionally, any training courses or education programs you have attended should also be highlighted.

Incarceration on Your Resume

Many people are concerned about how to answer the question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”. The answer that many ex-offenders choose to use is “Yes, will discuss at interview”. This method gives you the opportunity to respond truthfully and prompt the employer into meeting with you personally so you may explain your circumstances and address any concerns the employer may have. Leaving this question unanswered is not recommended because it alerts the employer and can create unnecessary suspicion.

Lying is never recommended because it will more than likely be discovered at some point and then the employer will have grounds for dismissal.

Lying on either a resume or an application is grounds for dismissal. If you were recently incarcerated, and you furthered your education and/or upgraded your skills during this period, be sure to include this information in your resume.

Physically Challenged

Always remember that the purpose of the resume is to get the interview. Your disability is not important; how well you can do the job and contribute to the company is what must be emphasized. Stress and focus your resume on your most positive skills, experiences, level of responsibilities and accomplishments. Remember, the employer grants interviews based on the candidate who appears to be the most qualified. It is your job to help the employer focus on your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. In the interview, be prepared to discuss your disability if it relates to the position you are applying for. Be sure to address this issue in a positive manner. (It is not recommended that a special physically challenged resume be used.)

Portraying Self Employment on Your Resume

List your consulting jobs chronologically. Employers respond favorably to consulting and contract experience. Be sure to show your enthusiasm and commitment to the work in your cover letter and only highlight those jobs that are relevant to the needs of the employer.