By Hallie Crawford
When you are re-entering the workforce after time off, working part time or even something less traditional, one of the fears you may face is how to make up for your lack of experience the past few years. We all have concerns about how to handle possible issues on our resumes, whether it is job hopping, lack of consistent experience or simply not being fully qualified for a job. And, we know that lying is not an option. But we are told to embellish and sell ourselves, so how do we know the difference between the two? The buck stops with you. You will know whether you are being dishonest on your resume or simply selling yourself and presenting your skills in the most positive light possible, which is what you are supposed to do. Most people discount their skills or experience and err on the side of being too humble. Doing so hurts your chances of getting that next job. So for most of us, we need to push ourselves to be better at self-promotion. But again, how do we make up for whatever we are lacking in our past in order to sell ourselves, at the same time being honest about what we bring to the table. Here are four ways to help you understand how and where to fill those gaps in your resume:
1. What do I put at top of my resume? You can have an objective statement at the top but, if you do so, leave it at the end of a powerful compelling summary that explains why you are qualified for the job. Do not start out with an objective. The employer knows what it is, to a certain extent; it’s to land the job you are applying for. So don’t waste previous real estate on your resume with a boring objective statement. Create a summary of qualifications, then include the objective at the end if you want to have one (you do not have to!). This, in and of itself, helps you explain how and why you are qualified, even if you have not worked in several years. It gets them thinking about what you have, not what you don’t have.
2. Where does education go? First, education can help take the place of work experience in some cases. Include any relevant courses – relevant to the job or industry – you have taken on your resume. Depending on the job or industry, you may need to include your education at the top. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires knowledge of a specific software program, include that at the beginning.
3. What can you include instead of experience? There are things you can include on your resume that are not traditional work experiences but can help demonstrate your value and expertise. For example, sports team membership or a leadership role in a team, internships, freelance or contract work, volunteer work, classes you have taken relevant to your industry or position, involvement in organizations of any kind, serving on a committee at your child’s school for example – as long as it is a leadership role. When you are deciding which items to mention, leave out the ones that are not relevant. If you did not serve in a leadership role on the committee, leave it off. If the course is not related to your industry, do not include it. You do not want to diffuse your message and use up space on your resume for things that will not help your case. Relevancy and results are key.
4. How do you handle transferable skills? If you are transferring from one industry to another or using non-traditional work experience to fill a gap, I suggest listing those skills *as long as they are relevant. If you can, try to demonstrate results using those skills in a project you completed, an internship or any other way you used them. Don’t worry that they are not in the same industry. Your resume is all about showing skills and expertise; demonstrating the results of your work – regardless of industry. Be direct and point out how your skills will apply to the position you’re applying for, even if your experience is not in the same industry. In your cover letter, explain what your relevant skills are, and how those skills can be used to their advantage. Use their language and lingo. And don’t discount what comes naturally to you. Have a friend review your resume with you to help point out possible transferable skills so you don’t miss any.
Watch this video as well to learn more about filling those gaps in your resume:
Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach, speaker and author from Atlanta whose coaching company, Create Your Career Path, helps people identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition and nurture their careers. Her team of coaches
work with people of all ages, have clients worldwide, and have helped thousands of people achieve their career goals.