RESUMES FOR NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS AND MID-LIFE ADULTS By Carol Stanton, M.Ed., M.A. Whether you’re a non-traditional student or a mid- life adult changing careers, your resume will have some differences from the traditional student’s resume. You may have had several careers or you may have a scattered work history. In any case, you want to make the most of your experience and present yourself in the best possible light. Here are some tips for the more experienced job candidate: Write a Clear Job Objective: A concise, well-stated job objective gives your resume a focus and lets employers know what kind of position you are seeking. Hopefully, at this point in your life, you have a better sense of what you want to do and have clearer goals. If not, make an appointment with the CGS Career Counselor. Develop a Career Summary or Summary of Qualifications. This can be the attention grabber that makes employers want to continue to read your resume. In this section, you can summarize your strengths, state your experience, and call attention to the transferable skills that you most want to emphasize. This is where the seasoned, non-traditional student’s resume can shine and stand out from the crowd. Think in terms of transferable skills, especially if you are changing fields. Employers will be interested in skills that are universal and can be used in their organization. Look back over your career history and analyze which skills can be transferred from one position to another. (ie. supervising, writing, organizing, etc.) Use a functional resume if you are changing fields. This is a way to highlight your main transferable skills and get away from being “type cast” by your former position. Group your skills by category first and then follow with your work history. List skills as action ve rbs, not responsibilities. The employer is wondering what you have to offer in terms of skills and accomplishments. Use action verbs to highlight your skills and show what you accomplished in your jobs, rather tha n “responsibilities.” It is not necessary to list every job you’ve ever had. This is especially applicable if you’ve had many different kinds of jobs. It is only necessary to list the most recent work and those jobs that are relevant to your job objective. Use all relevant experience. List volunteer work, not just paid work experience, especially if it demonstrates key skills and strengths. Volunteer work includes church, community events, education, sports, non-profits, political and military experience. Do not limit yourself to a one page resume. Many people suggest limiting your resume to one page, and for younger job-seekers, this is fine. But if you have many years of experience, do not sell yourself short by cutting out relevant jobs and skills . Do list the most important skills and qualifications on the first page to make sure they’re noticed. List jobs of the past ten years only. It is not necessary to go back longer unless there were jobs that contained specific skills that you want to use again. Use the names of relevant courses that support your job objective. This is especially helpful if you are changing jobs or do not have a degree or experience in the field that you want to work. Use your education to your advantage. Depending on how relevant your education is to your job objective, and how recent it is, you may list it before or after your skills and experiences. If your GPA is a 3.0 or better, include it. Specify relevant courses, seminars, conferences, on-the-job training. These are especially pertinent if you do not have a college degree yet or do not have a degree in the field you are pursuing. Include organizations or activities related to your job objective. Omit hobbies or personal interests unless they are related to the job objective. Do not refer to your age or marital status. If you are older, omit references to your age, such as years of attending schools. Also, your marital status is not relevant. List all computer skills. Most jobs these days require computer skills and the employer wants to know that you have some of these skills. Get feedback. Ask career counselors or professionals in your field to review your resume and make suggestions for improvement. The non-traditional student or mid-life adult has much to offer an employer, especially in terms of maturity, years of experience, and practical skills. Also, remember that it is not unusual to change jobs. The average person will change jobs at least four or five times in a lifetime. Take the time to revise and polish your resume so that it will present the best of who you are and what you have to offer.
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