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
- 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
- Ability to balance competing priorities
- Willingness to take responsibility
- 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?