Last week at our Career Center Employer Advisory Board meeting, the recruiters and hiring managers in attendance had insights/opinions they wanted to share with students and young alumni about resumes. Resumes of students and young professionals often contain job entries that are unrelated to the future job function/industry (ie: Lifeguard resume entry for one who is applying to a marketing role). This is to be expected and the way one presents the information will greatly affect how the past experience is considered.
First, it is valuable to show work experience no matter the role. Being a lifeguard, caddy, waiter, etc. communicates you know how to hold a job. This might sound simplistic, but for those who have never held a job, the concept of having to arrive at a certain time, answer to a supervisor, follow directions or protocols, and other pieces of employment are foreign ideas. If one is applying for an office/professional role, many recruiters will also want to see an entry where you worked in an office environment. This can communicate your understanding of professional communication, dress, and protocols.
Second, if you do only have unrelated work experience included on your resume, recruiters encourage students and young professionals to focus on results and outcomes as opposed to job functions. For example, one could describe his work as a waiter:
- Took orders and delivered food in a timely fashion
- Ensured correct food and drinks were delivered to provide a pleasant dining experience
- Developed strong customer service skills, tip average was 8% above restaurant average
- Demonstrated attention to detail and the ability to excel in a fast paced environment resulting in receiving Employee of the Month accolades three times.
The second set of bullet points show achievement and transferable skills (customer service, attention to detail, ability to work in a fast paced environment). The achievement information is interpreted by a recruiter as, “if you were successful in past jobs, it is not unreasonable to think you will be successful in future jobs.” As for transferable skills, one should focus on the skills that the employer designates as being of critical importance on the job posting. That way, you are showing how your past positions have prepared you for your future one.
I believe the goal of the resume is to communicate how you are a strong fit for the future role and to demonstrate a track record of success. Too often, we write a resume that communicates we are a perfect fit for our current/past jobs and not to the future opportunity. Remember, live life looking through windshield and not the rear view mirror.