CVS / AUG. 03, 2016
version 17, draft 17

The 3 Step Guide to Connecting Random Work Experience When Looking for a Job

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Is your work experience random or varied and have absolutely no idea how to connect the dots during your job search? These useful tips should help you.

If you are searching for a job, you need to have a resume. But not all resumes are equal, and if you want yours to be successful, you need to be able to prove to the hiring manager that you have the required skills to get the job done. Although this may seem simple at first, it’s anything but simple, especially if your work experience is varied.

If you’ve worked in different jobs and different industries in the past, it won’t be easy to show the hiring manager that you have what it takes. And this especially true if you consider that we’re always advised not to elaborate on our resumes and to produce short and concise resumes.

The reality, however, is that your random jobs are an advantage as they’ve taught you valuable lessons and skills that can be transferred across industries. All you need to do is find a way to help the hiring manager realise just how much of an asset you and your random work experience are.

Step 1: Determine Your Resume Objective

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For your job search to be successful, you need to have a clear goal. You should focus on getting a job in a specific industry and to do that you need to start with a resume objective.

I’m not referring to the blurb that goes on top of your resume that tells hiring managers what you want out of life. I’m talking about what you’re trying to get out of your resume.

What’s Your Goal?

Obviously, you want to get the job, but why do you want to get the job? Apart from the salary what is it that interests you about this particular job? Think of everything that inspires you to work in this industry and how your past work experience relates to this.

This will allow your resume to be more focused which will guarantee success, and also help you to find a way to make your past work experience more cohesive. So if, for example, you’ve decided that you want a job in marketing because you want to do something creative and are interested in the industry you can go back to all your past jobs and think how the skills you’ve acquired from those jobs relate to marketing. Have you worked as a teacher in the past? If yes then you were probably required to produce lessons to engage your class; a skill that’s valuable in marketing as it’s an industry where you constantly have to engage with your audience in new and creative ways.

After going through this process, you’ll realise that you have many transferable skills that can be of great use in your new career so don’t shy away from applying to jobs where you don’t necessarily have all the skills and qualifications required.  

In fact, if you have 60 percent of the required skills and qualifications make sure that you apply for the position as this is usually enough to make the hiring managers interested in a candidate.

So be confident and if you want to apply for a job that lists skills such as ‘5+ years of experience in similar position’ do so. All you really need to do is prove to the hiring manager that you know what’s required of you, so keep that in mind and don’t shy away from potential opportunities.

What Do Hiring Managers Really Want?

It’s essential for every resume to cater to the hiring manager’s needs, and this means that you should be using your resume to prove to the hiring manager the following three things:

  • That you can do the job
  • That you want to do the job
  • That you want to do the job for them

Hiring managers are looking for candidates who can make their lives easier, and a resume that takes these three factors into consideration is simple to go through which to the hiring manager means that the candidate knows what they are doing.

So bear these things in mind when determining your resume objective and start thinking of how you can make the most of your resume by catering to these needs.

Step 2: Decide On Your Resume Format

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It’s important to remember that the resume will likely be your first contact with the hiring manager so it needs to be spot on and flawless. Make sure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes in your resume and that it’s well-written and flows naturally; remember that although these may seem insignificant at first, they say a lot about your communication skills.

But before you deal with any of these you need to decide on your resume format. Usually, job seekers opt for resumes that list their skills chronologically as they are simple to produce and are straightforward to read. But, if your past work experience is varied and disjointed a chronological resume format might actually read as disjointed as well.

Remember that your goal is to prove to the hiring manager that you can do the job and simply listing your past jobs won’t help the hiring manager understand that. So, you might want to opt for a different format.

Start By Considering What Skills You’ve Acquired Throughout the Years

The first step to writing your resume should be to determine what qualities and skills you acquired from each job. We learn something from every job, and we usually choose to do a job because we want to get something out of it so consider both these factors in order to make a list of skills that will be useful in the job you are applying for.

If for example, you used to work as bartender think of why you chose to work as a bartender, was it because you wanted to make some money while having fun? In that case, fun means being able to interact with people, and that means you have people skills.

The Skills Based Resume

The reason for extracting skills from your past work experience is to prove that you can get the job done. So, think back to all the skills you’ve acquired through the years and separate them into categories.

For example, some jobs may make you a better communicator so you can brand that category as communication skills and list any relevant work experience there. The same is true with managerial skills.

This resume format is called a skills-based resume, and it can be valuable to job seekers who have worked in different industries as it allows you to focus on transferable skills which are essentially your secret weapon. If you feel that you need to elaborate to point out how your transferable skills relate to the job you’re applying for, then do it. Don’t worry about producing a longer resume because if you make it an easy read, then the hiring manager will not mind going through an extra page or two. The key is to make your resume flow while also highlighting that you can get the job done.

Add a Resume Objective

But, if you’re not comfortable with a longer resume then you can use a more traditional format and simply add a resume objective. This will allow you to elaborate on why you have such random work experience and what you’re hoping to achieve.

Step 3: Write a Compelling Cover Letter

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Although your resume is what you should focus on as it’s the most important document in any job search, it’s also important to write a compelling cover letter.

Some hiring managers never read cover letters as they feel that they can learn everything there is to know about a candidate through their resume. But if your work experience is random, it’s advisable that you also have a cover letter. You can use it to connect the dots of your past jobs, and better explain how you’d be valuable to the company you’re applying.

These cover letter tips will help you get the recruiter’s attention, so make sure that you read through them carefully before sitting down to write your own.

The Project

Everything that we’ve discussed up to now will help the hiring manager see that you can do the job, but if you go back to step one (Determine Your Resume Objective), you’ll see that it’s not the only thing you should be focusing on. Hiring managers are also interested in candidates who want to do the job and who want to do it for them.

Career advisor Raghav Haran suggests that you prepare a pre-interview project for each job you’re going to apply for as this can help convince the hiring manager that you’re serious about the job.

Find a few of the companies you’re interested in. Go through their websites and social media profiles and identify any problems they might have which you can solve or any suggestions you may have to improve things. But don’t come up with generic solutions and recommendations; do the entire process as if you were the company’s employee and it was really down to you to solve the problem.

Look for things that are making the company lose money or think of ideas that can help the company increase its profits. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position find a product that hasn’t been doing so well in the market and suggest ways it could be improved. It could be the design, the logo, or you could suggest rebranding it for a new target audience. Use your skills to determine what would work best and then come up with designs, logos and strategies to make this change. Ask a few people what they think of the new product or design and if they’re positive ask them to fill in a survey about the changes.

Although this may seem like too much effort, it’s well worth the trouble if you’re after a job that is difficult to get because of your random work experience. This project won’t only prove to the hiring manager that you can do the job, but it will also show them that you’re motivated to do it which could be your key to success.

Make sure that you discuss this project in your cover letter to ensure that you’ll be asked in for an interview and be confident that you have what it takes to become a successful professional.

Random work experience doesn't look great on a resume if it’s just thrown on there. But if you make the effort of finding a way to connect all your past jobs, you can achieve success and get any job you want.

Have you ever managed to get a job even though you had random work experience? How did you do it? Let us know...

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