Landing an Interview: Revamping your Resume
You’re unemployed and struggling to land an interview. You feel like you’re doing everything right, yet you haven’t received a single call! A resume revamp may be exactly the competitive edge you need to get noticed by potential employers!
If you are recently unemployed, your chances of landing a job are much higher than those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more. Employers are generally understanding of the fact that finding a new job takes some time, especially in this economy. However, as the amount of time spent unemployed approaches the year mark, employers’ understanding diminishes greatly – along with your chances of securing gainful employment. Large gaps in your resume should be avoided as much as possible. As gaps grow wider, you need to address them and fill in as many holes as you can. Try to find part-time work, internships, volunteer positions, etc. – anything to keep you attached to the job market!
If you manage to land a job interview within 8-10 months of being unemployed, try to avoid explaining yourself to interviewers. Discuss your qualifications, past job responsibilities, and how you continued to develop those skills during the months you were unemployed. Once the 12 month mark is surpassed, you’ll encounter difficulties with potential employers. Many employers will look unfavorably at the large gap or gaps in your resume. The assumption will be that you had an unremarkable past year without having developed any skills worthy of contribution. You’ll need to highlight specifics on your resume that prove the potential employer’s assumptions to be wrong. Think of any and all activities you participate in as potential skills to add to your resume. Get creative with how you think about your abilities – everything teaches you something.
Regardless of how long you’ve been unemployed for, if you’re looking to make your resume shine brighter than the rest, the traditional, chronological resume format probably won’t help your case. Time may not be your ally in seeking gainful employment, as it might have been awhile since your most recent job. Rather than highlighting the amount of time you spent at a given workplace or what your specific job responsibilities were, a combination resume hones in on your unique skill sets. The combination resume’s format is still in chronological order, but the overall message it send is much different than a mere timeline of your career(s).
Potential employers often prefer resumes in a timeline so as to be able to visualize your career, making the combination format a happy medium between the chronological and functional resume formats.
Whether you have been unemployed for a year or five years, an employer wants to see that you’ve been productive. A number of circumstances may have led to your unemployment: lay-offs, taking time off to raise children, caring for a loved one, etc. Employers are far more concerned with how you have spent that time and the skills you have gained rather than what caused your unemployment. Avoid explaining the cause and focus on how you will apply what you’ve learned to future employment opportunities. What makes you a good candidate, and how does the time you’ve spent unemployed contributed to that? Putting a positive spin on being unemployed is the absolute best route to take in seeking new job possibilities. Assure your potential new employer that you have kept up with the industry through highlighting newly acquired skills on your resume and narrowing your focus on new trends in the field.
Someone who has nothing to show for the past two years will raise a major red flag on a job application. Figure out how to stay active and involved in the community and market even if you are spending most of your time on the hunt for jobs. This will prepare you for the potential long haul of long-term unemployment in addition to helping you acquire new skill sets to add to your resume. Here are a few ideas to get you started: volunteer, coach your child’s sports team, seek out freelance jobs (writing, editing, web development, computer programing, social media management, etc.), get involved with community organizations and campaigns, or look for part time unpaid internships. On your resume, point to these activities, the skills you acquired, and what you accomplished.
Lastly, stay active and persistent in your search and be sure to alter your revamped resume to suit the position you are applying for. Do not wait for jobs to come to you or to appear on a job board – be vigilant of job boards, but also call or visit places you would like to work and ask about job openings. Ensure your resume is flexible and adaptable so as to optimize it for each job you apply to. For example, if the job entails mostly independent work, highlight your experiences, skills, and achievements that are related to working independently (i.e. managed the store/project/etc. without supervision). If the job is mostly team oriented, highlight your strengths in collaboration and communication.
Do not allow the time period of your unemployment to discourage you. While long-term unemployment trends point to your likelihood of securing a job becoming less and less as the amount of weeks you’ve been unemployed increases, it’s important to endeavor on, finding new and innovation solutions to joblessness.