Job seekers can sell themselves short in an interview, if they describe their skills with a job title. I am a welder; I was a retail clerk; or, I am a nurse. Unless the interviewer has worked in those fields, they will have only a general idea of the skills it takes to perform those jobs.
If you have held several jobs or have a variety of skills, chances are you have mastered numerous technical skills and have also developed significant organizational skills. Whether presenting your skills in writing or in person, do so in a way that shows the transferability of those skills to the new job.
Before you prepare your resume or job application, identify the skills you have acquired through paid or volunteer service. Start by listing the job titles of all the positions you have held. Describe the five most important tasks you performed in those jobs, listing not only the activity (i.e. answering the phone), but also listing the reason for the activity (i.e. initial and primary point of contact for customer service). That will be a good starting point for a resume or in preparing for an interview, but it’s only the first step. Here are a few other areas to explore:
Hobbies – What do you do for enjoyment? Most of us enjoy our hobbies because we have well developed skills in those areas. Identify the challenge in your hobby, and take credit for your skills. For example: Sewing. Visualizing a finished product, using a pattern (blue print) to create component parts, which are assembled using detailed manual dexterity to create a finished product. Working on Cars: Using deductive reasoning to troubleshoot a problem, use of hand and power tools, application of detailed written instructions (manual) to repair a mechanical device.
Volunteerism – Think of the times you have volunteered to teach Sunday school, coach your son or daughter’s sports team or helped in the classroom. You have undoubtedly demonstrated organizational skills, ability to lead groups, time management and other skills. Housewives (Domestic Engineers) often understate their amazing skills when completing a job application or resume. Consider organizational skills, as well as budgeting, purchasing, following detailed written directions (recipes), tutoring/mentoring (homework and parenting), resolving interpersonal conflicts (children fighting), multi-tasking, and the list goes on and on.
Chores – For young job seekers without much paid experience, list the skills you have acquired through a paper route (dependability, accounting and customer service), mowing lawns (safely using hand and power equipment), babysitting (responsibility and resolving conflicts between children), washing cars, fixing a bicycle or other mechanical tasks. Provide a detailed list of all major chores you have performed. Don’t forget to list any awards you have received in school, on your sports team, in scouts or any other activity.
Play the Movie! – Think about an important event in your life. It should be easy to replay that event with great detail in your mind. Close your eyes and replay that movie. Jobs are no different. When trying to list the important tasks on that job, simply close your eyes and play that movie in your mind. Write down all the tasks you performed; why they were important to the employer; and any occasions where you were singled out for a job well done. For students, that might be recognition on the Honor Role. In work, it might be a promotion or a project that resulted in saving time or money for the business. After completing this exercise for all paid and unpaid jobs, edit the ‘movie’ down to a smaller script. Those facts should show up on your resume and be told in an interview.
Probably the most important part of completing a job application or resume is to determine the skills and experiences the employer is seeking. Make sure to list all the skills you have that match the employer’s needs. List them on your application or resume in the order they appear on the employer’s job description.
The One-Stop Job Center has a staff of experts to help you make sure your story is told in a way that is both accurate and the most flattering. Software programs are available to complete a resume, and help is available to put it into final form. Drop by the career center at the One-Stop Job Center, located at 124 N. Irwin St. in downtown Hanford for job search assistance or a free certification of typing speed and accuracy.