Resume Q&A: Dealing with Youth and Inexperience

I recently fielded an inquiry through our free resume consultation form, wherein the young man was concerned with his lack of experience in competing with IT professionals that had decades of experience, as compared to his four years of school and two years of experience. He was looking for us to create a resume that would get him hired for his preferred job. I spent about twenty minutes reviewing his resume, and offered him the following advice:

1. Keep your career goals realistic
In this case, the young man wanted a management position, despite the fact that he was 23 years old, with two years of experience. Unfortunately, this just isn’t going to happen today. Ten years ago, it would have been a slam dunk to overcome an otherwise weak resume, but 2011 is trench warfare for job seekers.

2. Format the resume with lots of white space to create visual “pop” for what experience you do have
Hiring managers are human scanners. They NEVER read an entire resume on the first pass. If your resume is light on substance, it is in your best interest to punch up what experience you do have, so that it stands out.

3. Include a broken out skills section
Especially important for IT candidates, this section allows you to quickly summarize your skills for the hiring manager that is glancing at your resume, without hiding the details in your individual experience listings.

4. Make your resume accomplishment oriented, not task oriented
Most people who write their own resumes make this mistake. It is critical to tell the story of what you have done for your organization, rather than a list of mundane tasks that virtually every other candidate. For the candidate without much experience, this is even more vital. If you are an absolute rock star, deserving of wunderkind status, then your resume needs to reflect that with what you’ve done.

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