Always keep your resume updated. You never know when you might need one.
When more than 30 million people find themselves without work just since March, an updated resume has never been more important. In the wake of the economic upheaval brought on by the coronavirus, many people will be looking for new jobs as businesses cautiously reopen.
People have approached me recently for job search advice. They may have held only one or two jobs in their lives. It’s been years since they’ve been through the hiring process. They struggle with the prospect of selling themselves to a potential employer.
I tell them a good resume and cover letter are vital to marketing themselves and landing a job interview. A solid network of business associates also is critical for finding that next position. So even while you’re happily employed, always be networking.
A lesson I learned in my career was that I didn’t nurture enough business relationships. When I found myself out of a job, I needed to contact people for help in my job search. But I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to people I didn’t know well enough. I hadn’t grown my LinkedIn network. Fortunately, I tapped into a friend who had started her own company. She supported me when I opened my HR consulting company in July 2017.
Relationships and connections can emerge in all types of scenarios. Often a lead to a job comes from the third or fourth contact provided by your initial connection.
Remember when you do something particularly well. Keep a file in a drawer at home or at work so you have details at your fingertips. Make a note about your accomplishment when it happens and drop it in your file. That collection will provide key details for the story you tell through your resume.
What your resume is and isn’t
Your resume shouldn’t just list your job title and duties. You want to look into that file you’ve been keeping to include your achievements, those key bullets of value you brought to a previous employer, such as a project you did that saved the company money, or how you exceeded expectations in your job performance. Think of your work from an employer’s perspective: Instead of stating you delivered food and drinks to patrons, say you delivered all meals with accuracy and within expected service times for three consecutive years.
The purpose of a resume is to market yourself, apply for a job and get an interview. A resume can be chronological, functional or combination.
A chronological resume, the preferred format, is used when it directly relates to the job you’re seeking and your education and experience are chronological. The emphasis is on your recent experience, you have no gaps in employment history and there is a clear progression in responsibilities.
Functional resumes work best when you have gaps in employment or a short work history, varied skillsets from different roles, a career change, or you are new to or returning to the workforce. Without a chronological list of jobs, this style de-emphasizes age.
A combination resume works well when there is flexibility in the information in your resume and you’re making a career change. Present your skills and accomplishments together with positions and employers in chronological order to avoid skills repetition.
No matter the format, a resume has six sections: a heading with your name, address, phone number, email address and LinkedIn link; your career goal; your skills; experience; education; and other key details.
The information includes:
- An objective, profile or summary statement that grabs the reader’s attention and demonstrates why you’re a good match for the job.
- Employment dates listed in reverse chronological order that go back 20 years. You can go further back if needed for your employment goal. Use month and year or year for employment dates, but don’t use day dates. You don’t have to list all the name changes of past employers. List the companies where you’ve worked and the community and state, but don’t include street addresses, names or phone numbers. Be consistent with the abbreviations you use for states.
- All those positions that highlight promotions, responsibility changes and the ability to flex. Include unpaid volunteer work and internships if they’re relevant to your employment goal. You don’t have to state whether the work was full time, part time, temporary or contract.
- Education in reverse chronological order. Include formal education, certifications, licenses, professional development or continuing education and company training that is relevant to your employment goal. Include the specific course titles. High school education should include the name of the school, community and state. If you have a college degree, it isn’t necessary to include your high school education. For a college education, spell out the degree, such as Bachelor of Science; list the name of the college, community and state. Graduation dates aren’t necessary for either high school or college.
- Memberships, affiliations, publications, military service, patents, licenses or certifications that haven’t expired, awards or honors, volunteer experience, and language skills when they’re relevant to your employment goal.
The purpose of a cover letter
Use a cover letter to introduce yourself to a potential employer and highlight your character or work ethic, interest and abilities. The cover letter should not repeat the information in your resume.
A cover letter should include:
- Heading, date, address, salutation, first paragraph, second paragraph, third paragraph and closing.
- Key words that show your qualifications make you a good fit for the job and your soft skills.
- Accomplishments that aren’t on your resume and directly relate to the job you’re seeking.
Proofread your cover letter to make sure your contact information is current, the prospective employer’s information is accurate and spelled correctly; and there are no spelling or typographical errors. Never rely on spell-check to catch misspellings. Use professional etiquette and avoid slang, abbreviations and emojis.
Stay on top of your discipline, whether you’re going to monthly meetings in your field or staying current with your technical skills. A successful job search is all about keeping your skills up to date, keeping your relationships active and keeping track of information you can boast about later.
Information in this article was compiled from several sources, including AARP, the Society for Human Resource Management, Lee Hecht Harrison and the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.
50+ Job Seekers Networking Town Halls
The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group will hold virtual town halls Thursdays in May. Here are the topics and dates for the upcoming town halls:
“Creating Finance Wellness,” May 14, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
- Hosted by Susan D. Kelly and Melody Beach. Panel members are: Dave Bassett, SCSEP Director/Operation ABLE; Erin Rogers, Social Services coordinator, Franklin Senior Center; Kara Cohen, AARP, manager of Community Outreach & Volunteer Engagement; and Bill Napolitano, Financial/business coach, and Dave Ramsey practitioner.
“Authentic Communication,” May 21, 1 to 2 p.m.
- Hosted by Debbi Hope and Melody Beach. The speaker is Jennifer Wasner, president/founder of DaySpring Communications.
“COVID19 Job Search Strategies,” May 28, 1 to 2 p.m.
- Hosted by Allyn Gardner and Debbie Raymond. The speaker is Susan Joyce, publisher/editor/writer of Job-Hunt.org.
To register for the town hall sessions, go to www.mcoaonline.com/50plus.
Tune in to hear Darlene Corbett and me host our new show, “Connections Count,” from 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays on Unity Radio 97.9 FM.
If you have questions about Human Resources, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.