Part 1: Determining the Experience You Want
Getting started in a new industry can be a challenge, but the reward for your self-promotion can be a fulfilling career on our beautiful island. Here are some steps to help you identify the skills you already have as well as those you should consider developing to get the resume for your dream job.
What Do I Want?
Identifying your skill set is easier when you have a target. This is why resumes should always be refined to reflect the particular job application. To develop a basic template that you can retool on a job-by-job basis, research the requirements of the role you want and dedicate a week looking for instances where you are already meeting them or have met them past roles. (We’ll have more on this in Part 2). If you don’t yet have a clear goal, you should spend time online collecting job descriptions of positions that sound like interesting future employment and make a note of any recurring qualifications. You might come up with a list of four or five skills you want to develop. Pursuing these might be the path to your future career.
How Do I Get It?
Once you highlight the skills and experiences you want to develop, there are a few options for getting them off of your wish-list and onto your resume:
Direct Your Work Experience
Having a clear goal helps you be alert to opportunities in your current job to work toward your next job. Are there events or training days you could attend? Are there groups or committees you could join? Is this the reason to take the otherwise unglamorous team lead role?
If you are currently unemployed or considering a job that seems nowhere near your “dream job”, ask yourself if the lower-level job could help you develop any of the skills of your list. Sometimes a short-term job can be a stepping-stone to your next big opportunity.
There are two ways to choose a volunteer opportunity, and both are worthwhile. If you have the chance, choose a passion-project. Doing something with meaning to you usually translates into you doing great work and feeling fulfilled. How do people spend 20 hours a week at a theatre on top of their day jobs, or stay connected to a non-profit for over a decade? Passion. There is nothing more rewarding than this kind of volunteering.
However, an equally good reason to volunteer is to build experience. If you can find a role that develops the skills you want for your resume, seize it! Experience gained volunteering is viable for your resume and can be referenced in job interviews. Supervisors from volunteering can be powerful references and everyone you work with through interviewing expands your network.
The right volunteer role can make you look like a go-getter, someone who is willing to go the extra mile for their community. These traits are hard to write convincingly on a resume because they tend to emerge based on the jobs and roles listed and influence the profile the employer is building about you. And no matter what your dream role is, all employers want to know they are hiring hard-workers.
One final note of encouragement: to those starting out on career paths, there can be so many unknowns that it is difficult just to start. Often, the real struggle is for confidence: how do you believe you are right for the job when you have little concrete experience in the workforce? Understanding the language job posts use can help with this, and this will be addressed in our next post. Equally important, however, is just getting started. Take the minimum wage job, the part-time job, the out-of-your-comfort-zone job, if it means you will be out of the house and succeeding in some small way in the workforce. And find a volunteer opportunity to dig-into. It’s tough to start volunteering when you are unemployed, uncertain, or unfulfilled, but it can be a real chance to gain some experiences and the confidence that comes with them.
And then put that experience on your resume!