I worked with a client this past week that had not one but three challenges when it came to her resume. Number one – she was a new graduate, number two – she no longer wanted a job in her major, and number three – she was applying to jobs out of state. Yikes! This meant that not only did she have no experience because she was a new graduate, she had zero experience because wanted to go in a completely different direction with her career. And to top it off, she had to convince them that they should hire her with her nonexistent experience and that she was willing to move across the country for a job that she had no experience with. This is exactly why she sought out my help. She had no idea how to position herself as a candidate for a job she really wanted. I had experience with all of the above scenarios but this might have been the first time I was looking at so many challenges all together on one resume.
So what should you do if you are facing one of these challenges yourself? Let’s look at each one separately. First and foremost, she was a new college graduate. Typically when soon-to-be or recent graduates are preparing their resume they put an emphasis on their education, internships, and any relevant experience whether it is course projects, internships, or a job. If they have any experience in their desired field that’s great, but typically their professional experience is limited to jobs common among college students. Graduates are encouraged to emphasize the skills that would be applicable to the position they are seeking. Leadership in a campus association or collaboration on some type of project would showcase valuable skills that employers look for.
The second challenge was applying to a job across the country. If you are applying for a job that would require you to move you need to get across to the employer that you are ready and willing to move in order to be considered a serious candidate. In this case the appropriate place to address this is on your cover letter. You don’t have to go into great detail ‘but you do need to touch on why you would move, i.e. it’s close to family, it’s where you grew up, it’s someplace you visited and wanted to move there. Whatever the reason you will appear more sincere if you have a legitimate reason for applying to a job that would require such a large commitment.
Lastly, if you are considering a career change there are a few things you can do on your resume to position yourself as a potential candidate. You may want to consider using a chronological/functional hybrid resume. This would bring the focus on your transferable skills and not so much on the positions you previously held. However, it would also show that you have a consistent career history. The other thing you will want to do is touch on your reasons for the career change in your cover letter. This is also the place to tell them why they should hire you. Give them specific examples of your value and how you would apply it for them.
These are all situations that may present difficulties when writing your resume, and even more so if more than one is present. However, it is doable; it just takes a little more effort. Being aware of these challenges will help you to create a resume that addresses them appropriately and presents you as an ideal candidate for the job.
by Megan Koehler