Advice For Dealing with Special Situations
At some point, you may find yourself in a situation that will cause you some distress as you put together your resume. Such situations might include being a first-time job seeker with no experience, returning to the work force after a long break (after being a stay-at-home parent, going back to school, etc.), or looking for a new job after being fired from your previous one. The following sections offer advice for dealing with these kinds of situations.
If This Is Your First Job
Since a resume usually contains information related to your work experience, you may worry about writing one if you have never had a full-time job. It is important for you to realize that experience does not come only from paid full-time work. Ask yourself these questions:
Have I done any volunteer work?
Have I taken on a leadership role in a club or organization?
Have I done any internships?
Have I participated in any extracurricular clubs?
Was I in a fraternity or sorority?
Have I ever had a part-time job?
Have I worked on particularly challenging projects in school?
Do not consider any of these activities trivial. Each one brings with it valuable experience. For example, a group project you did in school taught you to work as part of a team. Your leadership position in an extracurricular club helped you learn how to delegate jobs to others. Since you don't have extensive job experience, a functional resume will be your best choice. Go through each of these activities and pick out a few accomplishments related to the job you are pursuing.
If You Have Gaps in Your Work History
You may have gaps in your work history if you took time off to raise a family or to attend school. You should use a functional resume, which, as discussed earlier in this chapter, will accentuate your skills rather than your employment background.
You cannot, and should not try to, hide the fact that you took time away from the workplace or make excuses for it. Discover, instead, the transferable skills you gained while you were not getting paid for your work. For help figuring out what your transferable skills are, ask yourself the questions listed in the previous section, “If This Is Your First Job.”
If You Were Fired
If you were fired from a prior job, you should still list it on your resume. Omitting it will leave a gap in your work history, which you will need to somehow explain. Remember, also, that even if you were fired from a job, you probably gained valuable experience while you were there. You may have to explain why you were fired when you go on a job interview, but you do not have to worry about that until later. You will find out what to do when you get to Chapter 13.
If you do choose to leave a job off your resume because it isn't relevant to your current career path, then you can title the section that lists your employment background “Relevant Work History” in order to let whoever looks at your resume know that this is not your complete work history. If you are asked to complete a job application, you will need to include all jobs, though, so you may have to explain why you didn't include a job on your resume.
If You Are Changing Careers
Dealing with a career change is similar to having to write a resume when you don't have any work experience. The difference is that you do have work experience, though it may seem to you as if the experience you have is unrelated to your new career. You should write a functional resume if you are pursuing a career in a new field of work. When selecting the skills or functions to highlight in your resume, you might have to dig deep to find things you did in your previous career that will help you in your new one.