Highlighting Your Work Experience

Chances are, every job you’ve had over the years hasn’t fit into a neat and perfectly descriptive slot. You might’ve held a job for positions like “Keyholder” or “Key Holder.” These are very different positions, but how will anyone who’s never held that exact job know the difference? Sometimes a resume just doesn’t have enough space. Sometimes certain things could be taken out of context.

I’ve held both positions during my working years. When I was a Keyholder, I worked at a bookstore in the mall. This position was one step below an assistant manager. Basically, I was an assistant manager who didn’t work 40 hours a week (because of school). A friend suggested I write “Shift Lead” on my resume instead to explain what the heck I did there. Even that doesn’t cover everything, though, and you can’t write an essay about each place you’ve worked. No one will read that!

Someone who’s been (or may have known) a Keyholder might assume that a Key Holder is the same thing. It’s totally not. A Key Holder is the position at a large home improvement store that refers to the person in charge of the key making service they offer. I didn’t oversee any other employees. I didn’t actually have my own set of keys to the store. What I did do, though, was a huge array of various duties in addition to making keys. People don’t line up in front of the key counter at all hours of the day and night. There’s downtime. Lots of it. So I would help out in any section that needed me for the sake of keeping myself sane. Can I list every little thing I did on my resume? No. That’s not what it’s for.

This is where you come in. As the only person in the interview room who was actually at all of these workplaces, doing these varied jobs and duties, it’s up to you to convey their importance and relevance to your prospective employer. You shouldn’t act as if your résumé is the end all, be all of who you are as an employee. There’s a lot more story to tell than the few little blurbs under each job heading on that one sheet of paper.

Think of your résumé as the outline you’d use to write a history paper in high school. Your outline just has bullet points for you to expand on in your paper. Your résumé serves the exact same purpose. The hiring manager you’re interviewing with has seen the résumé, and now it’s time for you to flesh it out, to give it life and description. Paint them a picture of who you are as an employee. Review your résumé and have notes in front of you with things you’d like to make sure they know more about from it.

For example, your résumé might say something like, “Assisted with departmental development statistics.”

That phrase doesn’t mean much to people who did not work with you, though it looks good on your résumé, it could still use some explanation.

Be sure to emphasize the specific parts of your old jobs that will help you do this one (creative tasks if your new position will deal with creating things, organizational tasks if the new job will include being in charge of others, etc.).

This is a simple step that can really make you a memorable candidate who knows what his strengths, and therefore his limitations, are in the workplace.

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The Perfect Career For Your Personality

Choosing a career path is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, but how do you decide what is right for you? You may take a career path that uses the skills you have or the education you’ve gotten. You may even choose a career based on what you think you should do — because of what your parents or teachers have told you is right for you.

But you may not know that you are naturally more suited for some careers than for others. Why? Each of us has an individual personality type that affects how much we’ll like a job.

Think, for instance, about a carpenter versus a counselor. A carpenter works with concrete objects, according to specified procedures, and has a tangible result. A counselor works with people and their feelings; she has to judge success and the results of her work based on abstract concepts. Which of these sounds more appealing to you? Do you have a strong preference for one or the other?

Now, imagine if you had to make your less-preferred choice your career, and you will get an idea of the impact that your personality has on your job satisfaction. There is quite a bit of variation in how people think and process information, what they see as important, and how they make decisions. All of this variation can affect how happy or unhappy someone is in a work environment. Each one of us has different criteria for what a great job is, and to find your own perfect career, it is crucial to identify what is important to you.

The first step is to figure out your personality type. The most common personality test used for career counseling is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This personality test measures four facets of personality:

Extroverted/Introverted. Do you get your energy from being with people, or being alone?
Sensing/Intuition. Do you see what’s actual, or what’s possible?
Thinking/Feeling. Do you make decisions with your head or your heart?
Judging/Perceiving. Do you like to make decisions, or keep your options open?

There are many ways to find out what your personality type is. Some people prefer to read about the types and choose what seems to fit best. There are also free quizzes on the internet based on the principles of the Myers-Briggs that can give you an idea of where you may fit.

However, if you are serious about finding out what type you are, the most reliable and accurate method is to take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is a scientifically validated instrument that will identify where you fall in each of the categories. This assessment can only be administered by someone trained in its application, and must include a consultation with a trained coach or consultant according to its licensing guidelines. You can take the personality tests through a career counselor in your area, or online. If you take it online, you will typically get the results the same day, and you can usually request a special report that will go into detail about what is important to look for in a career.

Once you have figured out your personality type, you will want to look at the careers you are considering and evaluate whether they fit what’s important to you. Some questions to ask yourself:

*How much time will I spend interacting with people? Will it be too much/too little?
*To what extent will I be expected to follow standard procedures? Will I feel restricted by too much structure? Will I feel frustrated by too little?
*Will this job require me to use logic and reason things out? Will it require me to use compassion and consider how decisions will make people feel? Am I comfortable with the extent to which I will have to act based on thinking or feeling?
*How much latitude will this job give me to make my own schedule? Is it too little? Too much?

It’s important to be realistic about what a job entails, and to ask as many
questions as possible about prospective jobs so that you can evaluate how well they’ll fit you. As you learn more about yourself, you will become more able to judge which jobs will bring you satisfaction.

By: Molly Owens