How to Best Express Your Varied Career in a Resume
Jan 08 2016
Courtesy of “Oliver Klein” from unsplash.com
Having a varied career rather than following a specific career path and working your way up, may have been considered unfavourable in the past. It suggests to some that you are not committed and get bored easily. Indeed, the widely used, chronological resume template is built for a person that starts out at the lower end of the ladder and progresses along their chosen path. It demonstrates clearly where they started, where they are headed and how long it has taken to get there.
However, in this day and age, when more and more people are moving away from a ‘typical’ career in a single field, consideration needs to be given to how best to represent a varied career in a resume. It may be that the job you’re applying for isn’t really related to your most recent experience but it is very relevant to something you did three years ago. If you use a chronological resume format, you are highlighting your most recent experience and the more relevant information gets lost further down the page.
So, if you’ve chosen a portfolio career or who have not followed a typical career path, how can you best express your career in a resume and make sure that you highlight all the important skills you’ve picked up along the way?
Introducing the Skills-Based Resume
Unlike the over-used chronological resume, the skills-based resume moves away from having your recent experience as the main focus at the start of the document. Instead, it starts by hitting the reader with an account of all the skills the candidate holds that are relevant to the role they are applying for, with real life examples to back up each claim.
Once the reader has seen that you meet all of the skill requirements for their role, the ins and outs of when you acquired each experience shouldn’t matter so much and can be expressed further down the resume.
How to build your resume using a skills-based template? there are a few things you need to consider:
Relevant skills only
With such a varied career, it’s likely that you will have put together quite an arsenal of skills, but you must make sure you only include relevant ones in your skills section. It’s tempting to include everything, but your resume should be tailored to each role you apply for. Read the job description, person spec and background on the employer thoroughly and pick only those that you think will impress the employer and make them see you are the person for their job in particular.
Include transferable skills
Along with skills that are very relevant to the job you’re applying for, consider transferable skills that the employer will also be looking for. These are the soft skills that are less job specific and can be applied to all sorts of positions. Things like communication skills, team work, problem-solving and IT skills are essential in most job roles and you will be able to demonstrate these regardless of what your previous work experience is.
Give real examples
It’s not enough to just list the skills you have. Anyone can do that and just completely make them up. You need strong evidence to back up your claims. Use real examples of things you have done in the past that clearly demonstrate that you have the skills and experience necessary. Try to avoid general examples. Even if you do something every day, don’t rely on that, make sure you also give a specific example of a time you have excelled.
Don’t let your skills section read like a job description. Try and make your examples achievement based. For example, instead of saying you have, ‘experience of working to targets in your role as a customer service representative’, mention what those targets were and how you succeeded in achieving them. For example, you might say, ‘Experience of working to sales targets of 7 conversions per week in my role as Customer Service Representative. Targets were excelled with a result of 9 conversions on average.’