The Best Resume for a Bad Economy

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

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With unemployment at its highest level in more than 25 years, many professionals are out of work for the first time in their careers. Things may look bleak, but for those worrying they will have to go from earning six figures to minimum wage, take heart. Though no one wants to settle for a job that is far below one’s worth, there is good news.

There are some creative strategies a job seeker may consider that will not adversely impact his or her long-term career outlook. In fact, just a few small strategic changes to your resume can instantly increase your job-hunting prospects even in these rough economic times.

Broaden Your Scope

You may have spent your entire career in one industry, but it may be time to also look around for positions in related fields. If you not are willing to settle for anything less than your dream job, go for it — but be willing to wait. For most, especially those already out of work, finding a job as soon as possible is important. That doesn’t necessarily mean you must settle or take a step down. All that’s required is an open mind to consider a comprehensive range of lateral possibilities.

For example, a human resources professional who specializes in recruitment may now branch out into related functions such as employee relations, benefits administration or even generalist positions. A laid-off newspaper copy editor could move away from the struggling newspaper industry and apply his or her skills for technical writing or public relations roles. A real estate sales representative can look into sales positions for other industries by emphasizing his or her transferable skills.

To compete with others who may have had more direct experience, you can level the playing field by highlighting valuable transferable skills on your resume rather than focusing just on specialized experience.

Don’t Get Hung Up on Titles

Instead of seeking out positions based on job title, it may be time to adjust your strategy or you risk limiting your prospects. Concentrate on job descriptions rather than titles. This doesn’t only apply when looking through postings, but also when it comes to branding yourself correctly on a resume.

Rather than listing a very specific job title as your objective, indicate something more general. A more general objective will broaden your appeal to recruiters and hiring managers weeding through resumes.

Don’t Fall Into The Overqualified Pile

You may have far more experience for a position than required, but you still want to be considered for the role. Downplaying your achievements is never advisable, but if you are a job seeker with “too much” experience, simply avoid going back too far on your resume. After all, highlighting accomplishments from 1976 will usually not help you anyway since it is from so long ago. Employers are most interested in your recent experience.

As a bonus, you will avoid another pitfall in the process. Discrimination of any kind is, of course, illegal, but unfortunately, it does happen. As a general rule, there is usually no compelling reason to go beyond 20 years on your resume.

Don’t Agonize Over Employment Gaps

It wasn’t too long ago when a resume reflecting any gaps in employment was taboo. It was thought to raise glaring red flags, implying something amiss in your job history. In a robust economy, it’s understandable for an employer to question why a jobseeker didn’t work for a long stretch of time. But in times like these, an abundance of well-qualified people are out of work through no fault of their own. It is simply reflective of our times.

That’s why there’s really no reason to be overly concerned about gaps in a resume — within reason. If you haven’t worked for six months, it doesn’t really require an explanation these days. If you’ve been out of work three years, that’s a different story. In such cases, it’s usually best to tactfully indicate the reason right on the resume to prevent an employer from speculating.

Minimize “Job Hopping”

In tough economic times, many jobseekers accept temporary assignments or perform consulting work as they search for permanent positions. Such experience is valuable because it not only helps pay the bills, but also demonstrates a strong work ethic and shows you are keeping your skills sharp. However, listing a series of several jobs over a short period of time on your resume could project an inaccurate image of a job hopper to an employer who is just giving your resume a preliminary glance. The best way to present this on your resume is to group consulting work together so you showcase your contributions without giving it too much valuable space, adversely impacting your overall presentation.

There’s little we can do to change the economy, but with the right strategy, your resume can help show your true worth — even in today’s tough job market.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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