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How to Play up Transferrable Skills on Your Resume

As you launch your job search, you have many tools at your disposal. You have talent, experience, then some grit and charm. There's only one problem: Your experience isn't easy to summarize. You've done a bit of everything. When interviewers look over your resume, they generally scratch their heads and characterize your background as "diverse." They might say, "I see you have a lot of experience, but I'm not sure how it relates to this specific position." Does this sound like you? 

In other words, your background is nontraditional. At this point you're a jack of several trades, so how can you convince employers that you're a master of one of them? Here are a few moves that will highlight your unconventional resume.

Tell your story well

The Harvard Business Review advises hiring managers to listen closely as non-traditional applicants tell their winding stories. This helps managers pick up on easily overlooked skills that actually would help their companies thrive. But what does this mean for you, the applicant? It means you must meet your prospective employers halfway. Make your story coherent, complete, and memorable. Don't ramble. Recognize what your employers need, and skip the parts of your story that don't address those needs.

Highlight areas of alignment

Read the job post carefully. Next, read over your resume to make sure that it directly speaks to the requirements outlined in the post. Use the same wording in the post in order to gain traction with human readers and online resume scanners. For example, use the exact term "CPR certified," not "certified in various areas, including CPR."

Leverage your skills section to include relevant hobbies

You love to cross country ski. Or maybe you're an HTML expert. Perhaps you volunteer on the weekends teaching literacy courses at the rec center. You may not think these simple statements will interest your employer, but think again. Your hobbies and tangential skill sets can demonstrate your ability to solve problems, overcome challenges, communicate complex ideas, follow through, design a website, create beautiful art, stay cool in a crisis, or speak fearlessly to a large audience. If you fall short on a professional skill set, see if your extracurricular activities make up for it. Take this a step further and look up the interests of your interviewers before your interview. If you notice your interviewer is also a fan of cross country skiing, find a way to bring up this shared hobby and how it improved your self discipline.

These skills can be abstract and difficult demonstrate in a one-page document. But if you use the right approach, you'll help your reviewers understand what you can do and how your complex past can help their company blossom.

For more on how to impress employers, even when your work history doesn't follow a straight, conventional line, explore the resources at MyPerfectResume.

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