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How to Spin Prior Work Experience to Advance Your Career

Whether is it out of necessity due to losing a job or a desire to branch out into a new path, the job market is seeing an increase in people searching for careers outside of the industry or horizontal to what they were in prior to the pandemic.  Searching for a new job can be a daunting task on its own but moving into a completely new industry can make things exceptionally scary.  While looking through the requirements for the roles you would like to apply for, it can be easy to get discouraged if your prior work experience resume does not completely match what is being requested.

Maybe you don’t have that bachelor’s degree in marketing, or prior experience in a related field; however, your prior work experience can be used to make you a stand-out candidate for hiring managers.  The key is identifying what aspects of your job can be spun to adjust to the needs of the role you are looking to move into.

Your prior work experience can be used to make you a stand-out candidate for hiring managers.

Let’s say you were working in the food service industry but now would like to move into a Sales Associate position. Although the requirements for the position may be worded in a way that makes you believe you are not qualified, there’s a strong chance that you are exactly the type of person the hiring manager is looking for.  Those hours spent keeping customers happy, remembering which table has a birthday, and which kids have allergies can all be parlayed into your resume to show that you are the ideal candidate.

You, my friend, have strong customer service skills.  You have patience.  You can multitask.   You have organizational skills and are a team player.  You may even have prior experience training new employees.  Did you often up-sell items from the menu?  Then you increased per-check sales.  Rather than simply, listing your daily tasks like making drinks and counting the register — because you know you did far more than that – what you need to do is convey those broader, often sought competencies on your resume!

Being able to identify these skills and present them in a compelling way within your resume shows that you were not “simply a bartender”, but rather an individual that provides an exceptional client experience, excels at keeping customers happy, and is able to deescalate issues quickly and effectively.

Perhaps you were working a laborious job and you want to try something away from the warehouse.  You can highlight your resilience and skills in supply chain management.  You can take on the difficult tasks without complaint and can meet tight deadlines.

Maybe you are an artist or a musician who is looking to supplement your weekend income with a salaried position.  You are detail oriented and patient.  You are a creative problem solver and can understand complex ideas.

You say you’re a stay-at-home parent?  You have experience with everything we’ve mentioned and more!

As you initiate your job search, don’t be afraid to chase the job that you want.  Just because you don’t meet all the listed criteria, doesn’t mean you won’t be the perfect candidate.  Look over the job descriptions and take your identified skills and construct a story within your resume that shows why you will be an asset to the organization.  Remember, the hiring manager may have a wish list of qualifications in their career description, but someone with a unique and beneficial skill set that can translate well into the role is often just as important as checking off the boxes for those desired qualifications.

Find your next big opportunity by gaining a deeper understanding of your traits and behaviors.

Bobby joined TalentQuest in 2019 and is a Client Experience Advisor specializing in implementation and training on TalentQuest solutions. Prior to joining the TQ team, he cultivated a resume full of varied jobs. In his free time, he is an artist and a mediocre guitarist.

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