Are you ready to get back into the professional world after time away? Whether you’ve been out of the workplace for years to raise children, or a few months to help care for an ill relative, getting back to work can be intimidating.
One way to ease the stress of the job-search process is to make sure that your resume is in tip-top shape. Here’s how to make sure that your resume is seen, and accurately represents your skills.
Tailor Your Resume For The Job
In the last few years, the hiring process has shifted to rely more on computer systems to pull the best candidates. You’re no longer putting a resume in the mail, but submitting one online in hopes that it eventually makes it in front of a human.
To increase your changes, it’s important to tailor your resume to each job that you apply for, hitting on the keywords that will bring your resume to the metaphorical top of the pile when a computer algorithm sorts through applicants, said Matthew Warzel of MJW Careers.
Highlight Your Key Proficiencies
Most people start a resume with their most recent work experience, but that might not be what’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Instead, start your resume with a section that highlights your key proficiencies, using bullet points.
“That way, you can include your more relevant accomplishments front and center, even if you did the work as a volunteer or 15 years ago,” said career consultant Rhonda Ansted.
Think About Non-work Accomplishments
What are you most proud of during your time our of the workforce? Maybe you led a school organization, took a class, traveled or volunteered? You should highlight those experiences on your resume, in a way that demonstrates skills that are applicable to the job you’re applying for, Ansted said.
For example, if you volunteered with an organization and improved their social media engagement, that makes you more desirable for a paid marketing position. Don’t be afraid to own your accomplishments, even if you weren’t paid for them.
Address The Gaps
It’s tempting to gloss over the gaps in your employment, but hiring managers will notice them. Instead of downplaying the gaps, it’s wise to be upfront about them, said career consultant Vida Thomson.
Employers are concerned about unexplained gaps, so use your cover letter to mention why you’ve been out of the work force. Thomson suggests a sentence like, “Since 2005, I have been occupied as an at-home caregiver, and I am now looking forward to the challenge of working in a dynamic position such as [the one you’re applying for].”
Reentering the workplace can be stressful, but having a great resume can help you find the job that is right for you.
Kelly Burch is a freelance writer covering finance, family, business and more. When she's not behind the computer she enjoys exploring the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire, where she lives. Connect with Kelly and read more of her work on Facebook or Twitter.