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How to Get a Job With an Iffy Resume

Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time or you are looking for a new place to work, millennials know it’s a tough job market out there. While millennials have made a huge impact on today’s businesses and have been integral to shaping their benefits, values, and cultures, many still find it hard to find a job, either for the first time or the fifth time.

There are many factors that contribute to the difficulty in job hunting for millennials, but one of those things could be an iffy resume. Thee are several things that might make a resume undesirable, such as no work experience, too much job hopping, or being fired from a previous job.

Whatever it is, you can still make your resume shine by taking these tips for sprucing up your less-than-ideal resume.

No Work Experience

Having no applicable work experience is the bane of every new college graduate’s existence. It seems every company advertising “entry-level positions” wants at least 3 years experience and a history in the field. That’s a little impossible when you’ve been doing part-time retail or food-service jobs while working your way through college.

But, your resume doesn’t have to be bare just because your work and school activities don’t match up to the job description. You can highlight any leadership positions and extracurricular activities that you participated in during school. Were you an officer of a school club or organization? Did you participate in an internship? Did you study abroad? Did you graduate with honors? These are all things you can highlight on your resume, presenting them in a way that demonstrates important skills to have that are highly valued by businesses everywhere, such as leaderships skills, excellent work ethic, and adaptability.

If you have a specific career path in mind, but need a few extra skills to add to your resume that you didn’t address in college, you can always find online training classes to pad your resume. For example, if you have an art degree and would love to get into graphic design, there are classes for learning tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. If you have a marketing degree and would love to get into video marketing specifically, there are classes for learning Final Cut Pro and Premier Pro. Learning specific computer tools like these will definitely boost your resume and make you an attractive candidate for hire.

Even your non-relevant work experience from any part-time jobs you might have had will be beneficial to add to your resume, even if they have nothing to do with the positions you are applying for. The key is to describe your duties in a way that can be applied to any kind of job. Worked with customers a lot? You have experience working with diverse populations. Manned the front register, grill, and drive-thru all at the same time? You’re an excellent multi-tasker and can handle increased work loads when necessary. Rearranged shelves to get all of the backstock onto the sales floor? You’re a creative problem solver and have good attention to detail. In the right light, anything you’ve done can be worked to sound good on your resume, so don’t be afraid to add that seemingly non-relevant experience to demonstrate your transferable skills

Recently Fired

Being fired is a terrible feeling, and that feeling is made worse by the idea that being fired is a career killer. Who’s going to hire someone who has been fired? Lots of places, actually. Being fired is not the end of the world, and you will still be a viable candidate for plenty of jobs in your field.

Fiscal Tiger’s Ben Allen gives great advice on getting a job after being fired. When it comes to an interviewer asking about why you left your previous job, he writes:

“Be truthful in answering this question. Explain why you had a failing, what the barriers were there that prevented your success, and how you are overcoming the firing. Keep your emotions in check, letting your anger show won’t help you here. It’s a good idea to practice answering this question with a friend multiple different times to find the best answer. You want to have a good mix of telling the truth and explanation that leaves you in a positive light.”

Allen goes on to say that you should never badmouth your previous company, no matter how good it feels or how much you think they deserve it. Focusing on the negative aspects of your firing will only make you look bad to those interviewing you. Present a positive, ready-to-take-on-the-next-thing attitude and put your best foot forward. It doesn’t hurt to try and use personal connections as well. When you have someone vouching for you, it tends to be easier for hiring managers to look past a firing.

Too Many Jobs

It seems everyone wants to call out the millennial generation as purposeless job hoppers who go from job to job trying to find meaning. While this is an overgeneralization, there are those individuals who change jobs often. Millennials aren’t afraid to look for job satisfaction, and there are many legitimate reasons to leave a job in search of a better one — but if you’ve had five jobs in as many years, that generally doesn’t look good to prospective employers. Investing in new employees takes a lot of time and money, and a company is going to wonder if they will see a return on their investment in the form of your loyalty and productivity.

When it comes to downplaying your job hopping, TopResumes.com suggests using a functional resume format, rather than a traditional chronological resume format. Optimize it by adding a career summary that shows your knowledge and abilities, and bring focus to your expertise, skills, and achievements. When an interviewer asks you about your job hopping, be sure to have concise and useful explanations for each occurance, and be sure to emphasise when the change in jobs was involuntary, such as a layoff or a spouse’s work relocation.

Most importantly, make it known to the recruiter that you are serious about sticking around. Know the company and the job description that you are applying for, and convince them why this is the long-haul job for you. Help them feel confident in their decision to invest in you.

Having a less-than-ideal resume and work history can make job searching a bit more difficult, but not impossible. As long as you can creatively spin your resume to work for you while still being honest, and then do your best to stand out in your interview, you will no doubt find a great position soon.

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About Mila Sanchez

Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter (@milaneechan) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/milaneechan/)!

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