College graduate fresh out of school? Looking to reenter the workforce after taking a hiatus? Have a job but looking for another job? Perhaps you’re for a complete career change. This is the blog for you! Emerging from a recession, we have made significant progress in rebuilding America’s job force, but many are still finding themselves un- or underemployed in today’s economy despite best efforts. In order to get your resume noticed, the key is creativity! Here are helpful tips from NYXT content partner Idealist on how to get the job you want every time.
Career coach Heather Krasna talks with Idealist about all the ways to make your resume stand out to potential employers, what to do if your resume has gaps, how to tailor your resume to the job you want, networking, and the methods to use to find your dream job.
One of the most obvious ways to start your job search is to explore social media platform, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is filled with job listings from thousand of potential employers, plus helps you connect with a network of people who can help you get the job you’re looking for! When posting your resume on the site, the first thing to discern is who is your audience. Think about what kind of job you want, what field(s) you’re interested in, and the locations of prospective jobs.
Heather advises that before you start your LinkedIn search, change your privacy settings to confidential (just in case your current boss is lurking on your profile!) You can change your job search settings to whichever industry or location you’re hunting. In your profile, use the headline underneath your name to hit all the marks of the types of jobs you’re looking for. For example, Heather suggests using “Graphic Designer/Community Organizer” as a headline if you are looking for employment in those two fields. It also shows off the breadth of your experience! Now is the time to show off your skills and interests that make you a compelling candidate, but prioritize the top 2 or 3 so as not to inundate potential employers.
It’s a tongue twister, but take advantage of your LinkedIn summary section to sell yourself! You can customize it to include your most relevant skills, interests and goals, but Heather advises to keep it concise. Wow your potential employers, don’t overwhelm them!
If you’re a new graduate or have disparate job experience, Heather encourages doing a job assessment online (she recommends onetonline.org!) that will also offer basic information on different careers that may suit you. Most importantly? DO. YOUR. RESEARCH! It’s imperative to read job descriptions and employer profiles on their websites or on LinkedIn to learn what their qualifications are and to see if your skill set matches up. Another task that is crucial is to take stock of all your greatest personal AND professional qualities to see how they best translate to the job you want. For example, if you’ve worked with children, you should emphasize your patience, attention to detail, and ability to negotiate with a calm demeanor, some very important qualities in an employee! Look at your hobbies, internships, volunteering, and other commitments that show off characteristics that can’t always be gleaned from a resume.
And speaking of resumes, how do you fill in the gaps if you’ve been sidelined from the workforce for a substantial period of time? Long-term unemployment, medical issues or taking time off to be with family are common and should not hold you back from finding the job you want. In fields like science and technology that develop quickly, the game may have changed since you were last in the workforce, and you may have to take supplemental education to compensate. Heather advises taking classes on computer and technical skills. You may want to look into taking courses at a local college, and if that’s out of your league financially, check your local library to see what kind of free classes are available. There are technical courses available online and in specialized schools in various price ranges, but YouTube often has reliable tutorials that can help you advance your skill set.
As an aside, Heather proposes that a good skill to learn for those pursuing non-profit industries is grant-writing. The Foundation in New York City offers free classes on proposal writing, lobbying, how to look for scholarships, in addition to tips on fundraising, lessons on LinkedIn and more!
Next, try to fill those resume gaps with short-term commitments that you can do until you land your dream job. Find an internship in the field you want and look to your community for volunteer opportunities. A popular volunteering organization in NYC is New York Cares, which, after an orientation, easily connects you with various opportunities-- from working in soup kitchens to animal shelters to teaching English—all over the city. Commit to something that shows your dedication and show off how committed you are to making a difference! While you do this, it’s important to build transferrable skills and make connections wherever you go. Talk to people in your internships, part-time or freelance jobs, or your volunteering supervisor or peers and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Have an exchange with them about your goals and connect with them on networking services like LinkedIn. In the future, you can also ask them to be a reference. You never know who can lead your to your big break!
Finally, once you’ve got your resume together, it’s time to make it look good! Heather stresses that fonts are key in getting your resume to stand out, in a good way and a bad way! Standard resume fonts include Arial and Times New Roman, so it’s wise to stick to those if you’re applying for a job in a more conservative field, like law or government. But she encourages job seekers in creative fields to use other fonts to stand out from the pack, like Verdana or Calibri. Stay away from using too much bold, and save it just for highlighting the name of your past and present employers. Stick to no bigger than size 13 and no smaller than size 10 fonts. As always, the key is consistency and making it pleasing for the eye. It’s also smart to match your resume to the field you’re in. For example, if you’re applying for work as a graphic designer, use your original work as part of your resume so it also serves as a portfolio!
Heather’s best piece of advice is to highlight all your achievements, not just those within the workforce. You can talk about how you got results in previous jobs, but also play up your efforts in school, volunteering, in the non-profit sector. The key is to sell yourself! Go ahead, you got this!