Posts tagged #college job search

Job Search Toolkit: Résumés - Your Story on Paper (Part 6)

I'm excited to approach the sixth post on a seven-part series on résumés.  To date, we've gone over the following:

  • Résumé Header
  • Education
  • Professional Experience 
  • Accomplishment Statements

Today, I'd like to share more about when and how to include "non-traditional" experience on your résumé.  "Non-traditional" experiences are jobs, volunteer positions, or projects that do not directly relate to your career path (not professional experiences like internships, co-ops, and full-time positions) but demonstrate transferable skills.  Non-traditional experiences are especially important early in your career when you do not have years of professional experiences to fill up a page of your résumé.

So what are the transferable skills you might want to highlight?  As I think about someone new to the workforce, I tend to look for these skills or competencies regardless of where they acquired them.

  • Work ethic
  • Proactivity
  • Ability to balance competing priorities
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Humility
  • Willingness to take responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Comfort with ambiguity

Experiences like part-time jobs, volunteer positions, class projects, and school organizations are great places to acquire these skills.  Oftentimes, when I see someone with a sparse résumé it's because they have a lot of non-traditional experiences that are not included in their résumé.  This is especially common for college students and recent graduates since they do not have years of professional experience to draw on.

If this is the case for you, the easiest method I have found is to brainstorm times when you have demonstrated the skills and competencies listed above and to use this list to round out your résumé.  For example, work ethic could mean working 20+ hours a week during college while graduating in four years, creativity might be growing the non-profit organization you started on campus from one member to 300 and raising money for a cause, and comfort with ambiguity might be the time you learned a new language and spent a semester abroad.  College is rich with opportunities to develop the skills that will make you competitive in the workplace, and your résumé is the place to highlight these experiences.

Non-traditional experience should be added to your résumé in a similar way as professional experience; focusing on accomplishment statements rather than a list of activities.  In the case of a job, this would fit in your experience section in chronological order.  For other experiences like volunteering, leadership, and special projects, I create a new section titled "Philanthropic and On-Campus Involvement" or "Academic Related Projects".  From here, I list out the specific experience just like a job or internship: name of the organization, date(s) of involvement, and location.  Under this, I add in three to five accomplishment statements.

What kinds of valuable experiences do you have that are not on your résumé?  Is there an opportunity to enhance your story by adding this information?

Posted on December 5, 2015 and filed under Job Search Toolkit, Resume.

Networking During the Holiday Season

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While corporate productivity tends to slip during the holiday season, networking opportunities abound through the extra parties and events during this time of the year.  Whether you are home from college and looking for an internship or full-time job, or considering a career change, networking in November and December is a great way to set yourself up for big opportunities in January.  And as we approach a new year, what better way to get a head start resetting and refocusing your career than by expanding your network?

Be prepared.  You never know when you might meet someone in your industry of choice or at your dream company.  Always carry a handful of business cards so you can share your contact information easily.  For example, my husband and I met the CEO of his company’s main competitor at a post-Thanksgiving party a few years ago - what better way to meet someone from your industry than through a mutual friend at a party?  Also, make sure to have an updated resume ready to email out anytime; you never know when you might get a request for your resume, and you don't want to wait more than 24 hours to follow up on the request.  Which takes us to number two...

Follow up - within 24 hours.  A quick follow up not only shows that you are excited about the connection, but it also increases the odds that the other person will remember you.  It’s easy to be forgotten during the busiest time of the year, and the longer you wait, the easier you are to forget.  On the other hand, a fast and thoughtful follow up sharing how much you appreciated meeting the other person will go a long way toward building a real connection.

Strategize.  Just because you are going home for the holidays doesn’t mean your job search has to go on vacation, because your network at home is probably bigger than you realize.  Think about the careers and networks of your family, family friends, and neighbors for a minute.  Until I started looking for a job, I never realized the people and companies that were represented in my network or thought about how I could use these relationships to gain an introduction or information on a company.  Along with your immediate family, websites like LinkedIn make researching your home network simple and fast.

Practice your pitch.  There are a plethora of opportunities to meet people during the holiday season, which means there are just as many opportunities to introduce yourself.  Prepare and practice your “elevator pitch”; a 30 second summary of you, your current situation (student, employed in such-and-such field, etc) and your career interests.  Do not let a prime introduction opportunity go to waste because you aren’t prepared!