Building Your Skills & Resume in a Time of Crisis
Much of the world has been at a standstill since March, but that doesn’t mean your career has to be.
This might be a good time for you to work on building your portfolio. An updated resume can show your value to future employers in a more appealing way. If you’ve been furloughed, had hours cut back, or work in an industry that will be slow to return, this is a good time to reconsider your goals, priorities, and future employment.
A few questions to ask yourself
Do you want to go back into the same field? Do you have a dream you’ve been holding off on? Have you hoped to take a new career path? This may be the time to try something new.
What have you done during this crisis to pivot? If you are still working, what can you highlight on your resume about your flexibility in a time of change?
Do you have a hobby that you can turn into a business, or leverage to help an established business? Can you tutor math, teach piano, turn your graphic design interest into a job?
This may be an opportunity to get certified in an area important for career advancement. Or it may be the right time to explore a certification outside of your current track to help you break into a new industry. Perhaps this is the time to just master a skill that you’ve been neglecting.
Pre-crisis your days may have been so full that you didn’t have time to up your skills. Now, with all of your evening and weekend plans canceled this might be the time to finally learn how to build a great PowerPoint Deck on your own, or learn that new programming language you’ve only dabbled in until now.
Lots of companies are offering certification prep classes at a discount right now. Maybe this is the year you finally get that Salesforce Administrator certification or that Project Management Professional certification you’ve been thinking about.
What about that resume?
This is a great time to take a new look at your resume. Even if you are not applying for jobs right now, it makes sense to take the time to update it. If you’ve been in a job for a while, it may be years since you’ve updated your resume. Does your current resume show promotions and increased responsibility? It should. A good resume shows what you’ve been doing and at the same time highlights your skills, not just job titles. And go ahead and check it out for typos while you’re at it! Hiring managers find them all the time. Make sure they don’t find one on your resume. Have someone else read it if you’ve looked at it one time too many.
If you are applying for jobs right now, or plan to in the future keep a few things in mind. It’s not unreasonable to tailor every cover letter and resume for the specific job that you are applying for. Remember you are selling yourself. Be sure to read the job description carefully and make sure your resume and cover letter are reflecting your specific skills and areas of expertise that make you exactly the right candidate for the job.
In this digital age of hiring bots that pre-scan resumes it’s important for you to consider keywords. In the same way that web pages consider search engine optimization (SEO), you need to use the same principles with your resume. What skills are needed for the job you are applying for? What skills are listed on your resume? It will be to your advantage to use the same language that the job posting uses to get through that first layer of resume screening. In some cases that pre-screening is done using algorithms and artificial intelligence. Make sure your resume gets seen by a real person – the RIGHT person!
When was the last time you looked at your LinkedIn profile? It’s time to spruce that up as well. Who are you currently connected with and who should you add to your network? You also should think about the professional groups and interests you are linked with. It may be helpful to read what they are posting. Like and repost what stands out to you. You never know the kinds of connections you may make through what are already natural connections.
This is also a great time to look at the “Intro” and “About” sections of your profile. Are you highlighting what you have done and what you are capable of? It might be a good idea to look at the profile of someone in your field that you admire, and model your profile after theirs. Having an aspirational vibe can work to your benefit.
Be sure to list your skills and ask people you work with for recommendations and endorsements. And why not do someone else the same favor. If someone you know is outstanding at a skill go ahead and give them a recommendation. It may help them and it shows that you are appreciative of a job well done.
A few things to remember during this time of uncertainty
It’s uncertain for everyone. Those with stable employment as well as those who are furloughed or whose jobs no longer exist are all feeling stress. These are uncertain times for hiring managers and potential employees. Be patient with yourself. Confusion and alarm abound, and there is little you can do about it. You can’t be responsible for the worldwide situation but you can be responsible for your reaction to it.
In the same way that you are feeling the weight of the world, so are those around you. This may be a time when you need to be especially careful about practicing patience with your employer, your housemates, your spouse, and even your pets.
Try your best to stay healthy. This is a time when mental and physical health is especially important. Get enough activity, sleep, and hydration. And also get help if you need it. There are many online resources for both mental and physical help. Don’t be shy about asking for help when you need it. Being smart about your mental and physical help will help you focus better at the job you have and may help you present yourself better when applying for new work.
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