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Resume Builder

Even a volunteer gig or short-term project can be a great resume builder. Read on.

Incorporating all types of relevant experience into a resume will make it stand out, and may make a job candidate more appealing. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Incorporating all types of relevant experience into a resume will make it stand out, and may make a job candidate more appealing.

A great resume builder does not necessarily have to be a past job or a paid internship. Graduating students who are new to the job market may not have much paid experience to add to a resume, and experienced professionals who are looking to change careers may worry that their past experience is irrelevant to the new position, but they need not be alarmed.

Experiences of all kinds can be used as resume builders. Understanding how to translate different experiences into supporting material to build a resume is critical for all job seekers. Incorporating all types of relevant experience into a resume will make it stand out, and may make a candidate more appealing to the hiring manager.

Building a Resume with Limited Paid Experience

College students or interns often have limited paid work experience. Juggling time between classes, studying and extracurricular activities can leave little time for paid work or even for volunteering. To overcome the perceived lack of experience, each candidate should search their skill-set for evident strengths and talents. These assets can be stressed on a resume even if the candidate has not been paid for them. Skills are skills, and it is usually irrelevant to the hiring manger whether or not the candidate was paid for acquiring them. For example, performing a leadership role in a fraternity or sorority during college years can translate into an excellent resume builder. Skills such as organization, motivation, leadership and working with others are transferable skills that are valuable in a variety of jobs. Serving as the captain of a sports team or chairman of an academic club can also provide valuable resume content by illustrating skills like fundraising, event planning or recruiting.

If a student has had time for volunteer work, these experiences can also be used to build a competitive resume. Charity Guide provides valuable information on how to translate volunteer experience into desired work skills. They advise that it is important to include limited paid experience and to group all volunteer experience under the same heading as all relevant work experience. By separating the paid experience from the volunteer experience, it tells the hiring manager that the skills acquired through volunteering are not as valuable as those acquired through paid work.

As with paid experience, the candidate needs to be specific in detailing roles and responsibilities held during the volunteer experience. For example, volunteer positions that provide candidates with practical skills like managing funds, organizing memberships or providing monthly status reports should be detailed on the resume. In addition, any opportunity that involves training others or coordinating activities for a group always belongs on the resume.

A resume is more likely to attract attention if all relevant experience is highlighted, including experience gained through unpaid or volunteer positions. In fact, Charity Guide reports that hiring mangers are more apt to give preference to candidates with meaningful volunteer experiences over candidates with trivial paid part-time work.

Building a Resume during Career Transition

For candidates in a mid-career job change, there is obviously more paid work experience to use in building a strong resume. However, drastically changing careers can present a challenge in how to best translate existing experience into valuable skills for the new job. The most critical task for a mid-career job candidate is to leverage transferable skills. Even when making the move between two wildly different careers, the fundamental skills that the hiring managers are looking for are often the same. Many abilities are relevant to multiple career fields. Skills like problem solving, team building, group management, sales, hiring, training, customer service and many more are transferable between careers. By adapting the resume and skills to what the employer is seeking, the candidate will stand out and allow the employer to see the relevance of abilities that may not otherwise have been so obvious. The Web site Work Strategies offers valuable tips for enhancing the resume of someone going through a mid-career change, like including a summary of qualifications at the top of the resume. In addition, resumes should be concise, focusing only on the most important attributes. This will emphasize transferable skills and assets without overloading the potential employer with information.

There are many useful resume building Web sites online, and most charge a fee for their service. However, plenty of good and free advice can also be found on career transitions, the importance of transferable skills and volunteer work at career sites such as Career Builder or Monster.

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