Your “work experience” section can be the most important part of your resume, and in some cases, it may be the only section that your potential employers actually read before they make the decision to call you in for an in-person interview (or not). If your list of previous positions perfectly aligns with your employer’s needs and you’ve never missed a beat, held a single bad job, or spent a single minute among the unemployed, you’ll be fine… But since this doesn’t apply to very many people, most of us can take a few steps to make this section more effective. Try the moves below.
Find an Alignment
If the parallel between the responsibilities you held and the accomplishments you acquired in your last position align with the needs of your prospective employers, make this clear. And if they don’t align perfectly, find a line between the two and use your words to illustrate this line clearly. Use the keywords that appear in the job post and make the distinction clear.
During the time between your last position and your next one, make sure you stay active and involved in the larger world. Take on leadership responsibilities in your community. Participate in any organization that interests you, from your homeowners association to your PTA to a local club, sports team or charitable society. Volunteer to help a local non-profit organization. Join an open source community and contribute something meaningful.
Don’t let your skills stagnate while you’re waiting to get back on the bicycle. And while you’re at it, don’t just run to stand still; keep actively learning new skills and exposing yourself to new information and new facets of your industry. You can do this by conducting research online and contributing actively to various thought communities. But even better, get away from your screen. Sign up for a class, find a mentor, read actual books, subscribe to professional journals, and consider membership in a new professional society or group with regular meetings.
Stay in Circulation
Keep exposing yourself to new people and new opportunities. Travel if you can afford the time and cost. Attend conferences and networking events. If you can, work to publish papers and give presentations, even without the support and sponsorship of a formal employer.
For more on how to stay busy, connected, and growing whether you have a job or not, consult the job search experts at PSU.