Resume Tips for Young, Out-of-Luck Job Seekers

This week, LiveCareer answers a few resume questions sent to us by younger people navigating the earliest stages of their adult careers—and having a rough time getting off the ground. 

Question 1: I Can’t Find a Job!

“I have a BS in civil engineering from a highly respected university. I have a strong work ethic and open mind…but what I don’t have is an engineering job. I spent the summer after graduation living at home and submitting resumes, then by the fall I realized I needed to generate an income if I wanted my own apartment. So I’ve been babysitting for neighbors all winter. How can I make the past nine months look appealing to employers on my resume?”

Answer

Honestly, as you apply for engineering jobs, you don’t need to include this nine-month chapter on your resume at all if you don’t want to. Employers may ask you about this time frame when they call you in for interviews and you can explain your activities if you choose (frame them in a positive light). But you don’t need to place your babysitting position at the top of your work history section.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with your current position. Listing this job on your resume suggests that you’re proud of who you are and how you’ve been earning a living, and you aren’t afraid of hard work. It also shows that you’re flexible, you’re a problem solver, and you’re open to opportunities and new experiences. All of these are interesting and refreshing qualities in younger engineering candidates.

Question 2: Back on the Market Again

“I finished college six years ago, and since then I’ve held two entry-level office jobs, several minimum wage service jobs, and then was finally hired for a mid-level position which I lost due to restructuring eight months later. I had high expectations for my career when I was 21. I’m not sure what went wrong, but now I’m nearly 30 I just don’t feel like I’m crushing it. I’m back to square one, looking for entry-level jobs. Again. Do you have any advice for me?”

Answer

First, get some resume help. Visit LiveCareer for a resume builder that will help you summarize your diverse experience and keep you from making easy mistakes that may be holding you back.

Second, start thinking outside the standard job search. Dedicate yourself to your search for about three hours each day, and spend the rest of the day doing something else. What that might be is up to you.

Consider starting your own business (it’s not as hard as you might think), taking a course in something new (coding, a foreign language, basic clinical skills like CPR), or both. Contact a temporary staffing agency and start accepting short-term jobs. Determine what skills you may have that you can offer on a freelance basis. And look for ways to volunteer in your community. Any and all of these will keep you in circulation and keep fresh air flowing through your brain. They’ll also provide you with opportunities to meet new people. Your next job is out there somewhere , but you may have to relax your grip for a while and just let it find you.  

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