Having an impressive resume is a great way to get your foot in the door for the job you’re looking for. Unfortunately, not everyone has the most impressive educational and employment background. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the field in such a tough and competitive job market?
Did you know that your resume can include a lot of activities that don’t necessarily relate to direct educational or employment experience? Your hobbies, blog, social media activity, and even your volunteer work can all be key components to building an impressive resume where degrees and long-term employment backgrounds are lacking.
Here are some suggestions on how you can bulk up your resume.
Start a Blog About Your Field of Choice
Starting a blog is so simple and cheap that just about anyone can do it in a matter of minutes. If your profession of choice is in the field of IT, write about various IT applications and system standards and how they can be put to good use in a live working environment. Do your research. Write articles that you believe would appeal to an employer if they were to come across them. Don’t sell yourself in the articles; sell your knowledge.
Not every site or blog needs to be big or popular to make a good impression. All you need to do is build it and put everything you have into making it work for you. Once you have a body of work that you believe would be considered contributory to your experience in that field, add it to your resume. Even better, you could found a company in the process and possibly make a living on dispensing that very information you gathered while building your blog.
The point of this is to prove that you have passion for a given line of work. Experience is important, but passion is an X factor that stands out in a hiring manager’s mind as they determine who to grand an interview to.
Establish a Reputation in Your Field Through Social Media
Social Media is a powerful tool that connects influencers with everyday people. By contributing your knowledge and extending your hand to social media in a way other than posting photos of a wild party you attended, you can build a reputation as being knowledgable (and hirable) in your field of choice.
Reach out to influencers, potential employers, and others in your field. Form connections with them, but don’t push yourself right out of the gate. Use tools like Twitter Search to find people with questions related to your industry that you can answer, and answer them. Do this often. Join groups on various social networks that are popular among influencers in your field and establish a rapport with as many people as possible. Make sure you stay professional and courteous. Check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar before sending anything out.
In social media today, it’s never a bad idea to treat every interaction as if it were a job interview. Employers frequently look candidates up on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, if you don’t have an account there, you should. Put your resume up and start making recommendations of people you’ve worked with in the past. Chances are, they’ll return the favor. Recommendations are worth more than months of experience to some employers. Employers check these sites because they want to get an idea of how you’ll work out after you’ve been hired. If they see glowing recommendations from your former bosses and/or coworkers, all the better.
If you feel that your LinkedIn or Facebook account is a stunning example of your experience and passion for your industry, you can surprise some employers by putting them on your resume.
The volunteer work listed on your resume doesn’t have to be purely charitable, but that isn’t to say charity work doesn’t help. It can also include guest posts on popular blogs, helping a friend found their own business, and even the hobbies related to your industry.
For example, if your mind is set on a job in media, you could contribute time to a public radio or television station. Internships at corporate outlets are a big plus to many employers, especially ones who understand how much interns end up actually doing around the office. If you can’t find a television or radio station in need of interns, you’re not looking hard enough.
I spent several years as a disk jockey for amateur Web-based radio stations for the fun of it. That evolved into working (on a volunteer basis most of the time) for a startup that specialized in live machinima broadcasts. This experience went on my resume and I began seeking out full-time employment in the media industry after having not worked in it for almost ten years. To my surprise, I landed a job as a producer/director at a nationally syndicated radio/television show. In a sense, I had leaped from working for a small FM station in a very minor market to working at one of the biggest shows in the business thanks to the time I volunteered doing Web cartoons for a very small startup based on another continent.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with blogging, but expands the idea to actual complete projects. Adding that you’ve written the definitive guide on a particular process is a huge resume builder. If you’re a programmer, building a piece of software to a workable point and sending it out to the world of open source is an excellent way to not only get your name out there, but to add an accomplishment to your portfolio. Simply having been a programmer working for X corporation is one thing, but founding your own projects independently without promise of financial reward is, in itself, extremely impressive.
Do you want to be a tech journalist? Write the definitive guide on a particular topic and release it as an e-book. You might not make a ton of money from doing this without the right publicity and timing, but adding a book to your resume looks a lot better than a blank space.
Building your resume means more today than simply accruing experience and/or educational credentials. While these things may still be very important, tools like social media have exposed our true passions in a way that they never were before. Passion means that you’re willing to go above and beyond regular business hours to learn and grow in your field. It means that you have the drive it takes to do your very best at whatever it is you love to do.
If anything can land you that perfect job, it’s demonstrating unyielding passion for doing it.
“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” — Mark Twain