Many times I am asked by a student or graduate if it is important to include professional experience that is not related to their field of study on their resume. My advice is don’t be afraid to include positions that aren’t directly related to your field of study, especially if you have limited work experience. You can use this experience to demonstrate what we call “transferable skills” that can really upgrade your resume.
Some examples of transferable skills would include, meeting deadlines, ability to delegate and plan, results oriented, customer service oriented, supervision of others, increasing sales or efficiency, instructing others, good time management, solving problems, managing money/budgets, managing people, meeting the public, organizing people, organizing/managing projects, team player, written and oral communications and working independently. So where does that type of knowledge and experience actually come from? These skills can be honed and developed in many ways including after school programs you have participated in, childcare work, volunteer work, school projects, and even as a result of hobbies that you enjoy. One of the best ways to understand the organization of these skills is to put them into categories similar to those published by Princeton University. Think back on all of the past responsibilities that you have had, even things you did for your relatives, and how those responsibilities could be perceived in a formal work environment.
Look at the job description, responsibilities and required experience and think about what you may have done or learned that could be applied. If a job is looking for someone who has managerial experience and you have never been a manager, but you have supervised a group of volunteers or worked as a lead on an important college project, that might be a way for you show that you have the experience they are looking for.
However, if you feel that your transferable skills are not as good as you want them to be, my advice is do NOT overstate the skills that you do have. If an interviewer asks you details pertaining to a skill that you have listed and you don’t have any answers, your interview will soon be over. If you list that you have managerial experience when in reality you worked alone, that won’t go over well. Take the time to work on your speaking skills and be your own promoter instead!
“Take the time to work on your speaking skills and be your own promoter instead!”
It is often important that you can identify and give examples of the transferable skills that you have developed — this will go a long way to persuading prospective employers that you are right for the job. Don’t be afraid to apply for a job if you do not have the exact experience they are asking for because you could still be the exact candidate that they are looking for.
For more career oriented advice, visit the Career Services staff at Coleman University. All of our current students and alumni are eligible to receive Career Services assistance and we have many resources to help our community find long lasting careers. Call 1 858 499 0202 today!