Changes for your Post-Recession Resume

If hiring activity really starts to improve in late 2010, you’ll be getting more chances to put your resume in front of the right people (defined for our purposes as “people who have jobs to fill.”) Here are some tips for making sure that your post-recession resume tells a good story about how you weathered an extended layoff.

  1.  Make sure to list your community involvement. If you have not been volunteering or serving in on boards or commissions during your layoff, you’ve missed an opportunity.  Volunteering is a great way to expand your network and build skills.  It’s also a way to fill gaps in your employment history and get a current reference from someone who’s seen your work recently.  That’s a valuable asset if your previous supervisor has also left the company or your division has been shut down.
  2. Smooth your dates.  Many jobseekers include months and years when listing dates of employment on their resumes. If you’ve been unemployed for several months or taken time off between jobs, this format draws attention to your employment gaps.  Using the years only will make these gaps less evident on your resume, helping you stay in the running with employers that still value continuous employment.
  3. Decide whether to include your temporary employment.  In some cases, you may want to show continuous employment on your resume.  But if you’ve taken a low-level job in an industry that doesn’t fit with the rest of your experience, you might leave it off your resume and talk about it during your interview if asked (see smoothing dates discussion above.)
  4. Update your education and list it.  Even if it’s a short certificate program at the local community college or free online courses from a learning extension program, recent education will show that you stayed motivated during your period of unemployment. (See our next blog post for a list of free online courses form universities like MIT.)
  5. Check in with your references.  It’s a good idea to check in with the people you list as references at least once a year or before you offer them to a potential employer. You want to make sure that your references are still available at the number or address you have for them.  If they are no longer with the company, you have a couple of options: list the HR contact at your former employer, or ask the reference if you can use their new contact information for prospective employers

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