How do I Convey Experience in the Résumé

Before you fall victim to creating your résumé based on dated guidance and antiquated reference materials that do nothing to set you apart from the competition, consider what the intent of the traditional résumé is.

Quite simply, the résumé is a snapshot of your background and previous experience. The content reflects your knowledge, skills, and abilities gained through your entire life experience – not just experience gained through previous employment history!

Often, job seekers find themselves at a loss when seeking new opportunity or changing careers. Challenges appear when obtaining a new degree, discovering an interest in new ventures through volunteer work, or transitioning their skill set into another industry. Even more challenging, is when employers indicate they require candidates to possess experience (anywhere from 1-10 years in a particular field) or prefer candidates with academic education in the form of a degree.

“I have a degree, but no experience…..”

“I know I can do this job, I did the same thing as a volunteer for ten years….”

“I have no formal training, but learned all about XYZ while observing intricate daily operations of this organization for the last decade…”

“I learned how to write articles from years of reading publications of renowned authors…”

“I have no high school diploma, no degree, and no official certifications, yet am qualified. After 20 years of career progression in the same company, I know the job inside and out. I cannot compete with someone that has the education or a degree…”

Employers want to know that you can do the job. They want to know what you bring to the table, not just in aspects of formal education but also the experience gained through hands-on application of concepts. If you can convey the right message, demonstrate that you possess the required skills and can, in fact, perform the job in the way that aligns with the employer’s expectations, new doors will open.

The Merriam-Webster Definition of Experience:

*direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge

*the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation

*practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or a particular activity

*the length of such participation <has ten years’ experience in the job>

*the conscious events that make up an individual life

*the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally

*something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through

*the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality

For now, forget about the traditional résumé. Online application programs and talent management systems offer candidates plenty of space to describe their previous skill set. Résumés created through online application programs sometimes well exceed the size of the traditional, one-two page résumé. In fact, there are explicit guidelines for including volunteer work and experience gained through multiple forums when seeking opportunity in government assignments. Use space to your advantage.

Rather than focusing on just employment entries, include time spent in volunteer assignments, time spent pursuing advanced education, or formal degrees, time spent in culturally diverse atmospheres, and the time spent pursuing personal interests. The bonus of this strategy is that you will generate credit for experience through automated screening programs, and these entries will help you cover gaps when removed from the traditional workforce.

Once you have a solid foundation of online résumé data, you can strategically pull information to develop the targeted snapshot, or traditional résumé typically used for interviews and networking.