Last month our Young Professionals of Osceola County offered advice to their peers who might be thinking about a career pivot or career upgrade with their virtual event titled “Translating Your Experience to What’s Next: Resume & Interview Tips & Tricks.” Consultant Samara Elkins joined attendees via Zoom to share her personal tips for tailoring your particular career and life experiences to the job you are looking to fill. As Samara put it, “You know you can do the job; make sure they know it, too!”
Samara’s presentation included how to create a high-level resume checklist, dissect your experience, identify your key resume content, build relevant resume bullet points, and make the most of your experience.
She began with tips to get past the first phase of most job applications – the Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. The fact remains that many times when you apply for a position with no prior connections to the organization, your resume first passes through a computer scanner to weed out applicants. To beat this system, Samara recommends sending your resume as a pdf document, identifying and using key words from the job description on your resume, including the job title in your resume, and pasting your full resume into an answer field when prompted even if it is included as an attachment elsewhere.
Should your resume pass the scanner and make it to the next round where it will be viewed by human eyes, Samara advised keeping the resume one to two pages, and keeping it clean and simple with all bullet points results-focused. She offered six steps to accomplishing this: 1. explain your day-to-day work, 2. identify special projects or unofficial jobs you filled, 3. quantify your work, 4. find jobs you wish to target, 5. prioritize your content to fit the job, 6. build your resume bullets accordingly.
Lastly, Samara explained three key parts of a solid resume bullet:
- What did you do? (explain the job starting with an action verb)
- How did you do it? (find key words and skills to highlight)
- What was the result? (show the “so what” of what you did)
If you are looking to make a career switch, but are worried you don’t have applicable work experience, Samara recommends to first identify your career gaps and to include and build on your extra curricular experiences – especially if they showcase things that you are missing from your work experience. As Samara noted, the pandemic has been a great opportunity for people to hone new skills, including non-work skills like volunteering, helping with kids, caring for loved ones, etc.