What to do when you don’t have the experience for the job that you want

People think of their resume as a collective of their education, skills and professional experience. Many employers rely on resumes as form of job applications for the open positions within their organizations. Thus it is very important that you have a well-written resume prepared when searching for jobs.

Creating a resume is not an easy task, even if you are a professional with years of experience and many skills. However, composing a resume when you are looking to completely change careers, or when you are fresh out of school is much more difficult, because you do not have any experience to highlight.

If you are changing careers, and nothing from your past professional experience qualifies you for the new job you are seeking, highlight those qualifications that can be transitioned along the various industries. For example, if you’ve managed people, no matter the type of business, you should highlight this under your experience. Rather than not highlighting your professional experience, even if it is not directly related to the job you are seeking, you should consider writing a professional profile, or summary at the start of your resume. The summary will allow you to address the career change by highlighting your skills and how they relate to your career objective. In addition, this is one situation where it is ok to reference any volunteer or community service work that you have done if it can help promote your qualifications for the job.

If you are fresh out of college, and don’t have much to bring to the table in terms of full time professional experience, don’t get discouraged in creating your resume. Focus on highlighting your skills and your education. Avoid using a professional profile, or summary. Rather, list your career objective and start the resume by listing your education. Make sure to mention any awards or honors you received while in school. Following your education, list all the skills that will qualify you for the job you are seeking. Make sure to mention any courses, such as project management or business communication that you have taken and can apply at work. Instead of listing any experience, title the section “Pre-professional Experience” and divide it into categories applicable to your career objective. For example, instead of say that you spent a summer working at the Gap, use a sub-heading of “Customer Relations” and list any responsibilities where you have provided customer service. Tap into any community service, volunteer, or school club positions you have held in order to highlight your abilities and showcase that you are the best candidate for the job.

Don’t be afraid of not having the right experience, or not having any professional experience to include in a resume. Focus on what you can do rather than what you don’t have the experience in doing and you will have a winning resume.

How to list education and experience form different countries on your resume

As a society, we pride our selves in our diversity and make conscious effort to appreciate each other’s cultures and backgrounds. In any given company in America, you can find training teams conducting inclusion trainings, and openly discussion diverse work environments. Diversity has become a part of our culture, both in and outside of work, and it is something that we seldom stop to appreciate.

A sizeable portion of the American workforce has acquired at least a part of their education in a foreign country. If you are in that group, one of the main challenges you will face when composing your resume is transferring your education and any experience you may have from another country in a way that shows your qualifications and achievements in a way that is relevant to your American employer.

When it comes to your scholastic achievements, make sure that you understand the education system in the US. Familiarize yourself with various levels of college degrees; make sure that you understand the difference between trade schools, colleges and universities, as well as the various degrees you can acquire at each of these educational facilities. Do not translate your degree directly – make sure that the terminology you are using is appropriated to educational achievements in the US.

I would advise seeking assistance from a translating service or from a resume writing service that may have someone on staff that speaks your language or is familiar with your country and its culture. This will assure that the education and employment information you acquired in another country is properly listed in your resume. Do not make a mistake of exaggerating the position you have held or the degree you received in another country. Consider the fact that your potential employer has very limited resources in order to verify the foreign education or employment you list on your resume. This doesn’t mean you have a free pass to make things up; instead, gather any documentation you may have that shows your achievements. If you have any transcripts or degrees from your school, or any awards from your previous employment, take them to a translating service that will recreate and notarize these documents in English. Make a note on your resume or in your cover letter that you can show such documentation upon employer’s request. Additionally, if English is your second language, under your qualifications make sure to list any additional languages that you speak fluently. Having a resume free of typos and grammatical errors will indicate to your employer that you have taken the time to learn the language and that you place high emphasis on your communication skills.

As a best practice, if your resume includes education or work experience you acquired in a foreign country, your cover letter should address any concerns that may be brought up by this information. Your employer may have questions on why you left the country where you previously work, or if you intend to go back after some time (if you came to the United States to further your education, indicate the length of time you are staying). Keep these things in mind – put yourself in a position of your potential employer who is reviewing your resume and anticipate any questions they may have about your professional history. Addressing any concerns about your resume ahead of time will assure that you are taken seriously as a qualified and credible candidate.

Listing your experience – how far back should you go?

One of the biggest concerns in creating a resume has to do with your professional experience. Before you begin your resume, consider the following questions.

– What is your career objective?

– Are you changing careers or looking for professional growth?

– What experience have you had so far that will help in meeting your professional goals?

To get started in developing your resume, list all of your previous experience, in chronological order, starting with your latest job on a piece of paper. List the dates of employment, your job title, the full company name and the location of your employment. Now, consider just how much experience you have had. In recent years, it has become more commonplace to change jobs more frequently and not build your career in one place. As such, it is possible that someone with ten years of professional experience following college has had over three jobs. That doesn’t seem all that much to include on a resume, right? Consider someone with over 30 years of experience. It is important to set limits on what you include and what you can freely exclude from your resume under your professional experience.

Ideally, your resume should not exceed two pages. Depending on the type of jobs you have held and your responsibilities, having only two pages doesn’t account for a lot of space. The best practice for listing your experiences is not to exceed the most recent five jobs you have held. Again, keep the mind the length of the resume when you are deciding on the number of jobs you will list – if your last five jobs and their accompanying responsibilities will take over one page alone, than consider narrowing the experience down to the three most recent positions you had. Also, consider the time you spent at each organization you have worked for – list up to the last ten to fifteen years of experience. It is not necessary to list every job you’ve ever had to showcase your qualifications and years of experience. If you have a long professional career, focus on the last three to five jobs, but use the profile or summary at the beginning of the resume to highlight the number of years you have spent working, or the number of years you have spent in a certain industry, acquiring specific skills.

When listing your experiences, it is important that you do so in chronological order without skipping any of the jobs you have held. While you may feel that certain jobs are not particularly complimenting to your current career objective you should not avoid listing them on your resume. Work on highlighting the responsibilities that are transferable across various industries. Leaving any unexplained gaps in your work history will raise questions by your potential employer – thus don’t create those gaps on your resume by listing your experience out of order or by skipping jobs you have had. Finally, make sure that your cover letter accounts for any additional qualifications you would like to bring to the attention of your potential employer that you didn’t include on the resume.

Your resume should be concise, well written, and sell you as the best candidate for the job. Just remember that it is quality over quantity that counts.

What to do with gaps in your work experience

Listing your professional experiences on your resume is a difficult task. There are so many elements to consider: job titles, time frames, key responsibilities, transferable skills, etc. The process becomes even more difficult if you have gaps in your work history. Your potential employer will not have a way of knowing why there is a three and a half year gap in your professional experience just by reviewing your resume, for example. The employer may wonder if you skipped over one of the jobs you held because it doesn’t meet your career objective, or they may assume that you didn’t work at all during the time frame that is unaccounted for on your resume. Any gaps in your employment history will need to be explained in writing; thus, don’t skip any information on purpose.

There are a few general rules about resume gaps:

– Any unaccounted time that is shorter than three months doesn’t need to be explained. Having 60-90 days in between jobs is not too unusual, and often goes unnoticed within a resume. However, any gaps extending beyond three months should be addressed in your cover letter or e-mail. Whether you had personal or professional reasons for not working, the gaps in your employment history need to be explained as you don’t want to leave the employer to make their own assumptions.

– Be honest! We can’t stress this matter enough. If you are honest with your potential employer, you will not have to worry about them checking your references, doing a background check, or surprising you with questions in an interview.

– Don’t exclude months of your employment from the job listing. You are better off explaining the gaps in your resume than trying to cover them up. Honesty is really the best policy when it comes to your resume.

– If you have held jobs that are not applicable to your career objective, list them on your resume anyway. Rather than create gaps in your resume, explain why you held jobs outside of your field in your cover letter or in an email to your potential employer. Again, whether the reasons are personal or professional, explain yourself honestly and don’t leave room for assumptions on the part of your potential employer.

– Regardless of the reasons for the gaps in your professional history, it is important that the tone in your cover letter and your resume remains positive. Do not sound apologetic – life happens and you don’t need to be sorry for taking time off of work. Be positive, and show your potential employer that you never lost focus on your career.

While we all agree that life takes unexpected turns and respect that there will be circumstances that create gaps in our resumes, we can always consider the following actions in order to stay competitive within our field:

– Apply our time and experience to volunteer positions, community projects, and consulting or freelance work.

– Take a class at a community college or at the community center that improves your work-related skills and allows you to interact with people with similar professional backgrounds.

– Read about the new developments in your field. Get a subscription to a professional publication/magazine, or get the newly published books that discuss changes or improvements in your profession.

Most of all, be honest and stay positive. You can’t change your work history, so do your best to show your employer you are a perfect candidate for the job by focusing on your experience and your education, highlighting your achievements and your qualifications.