Dear Sam: I recently came across your column and then took some time to review your website. Except for an 18-month part-time position coordinating children’s programs for a local church, my job for the last 16 years has been educating my children. My oldest graduated from homeschool four years ago and has recently graduated from college. Now, I have a high school junior that is moving quickly toward adulthood.
Things have changed so much since I needed to create a resume, and I have found there is even terminology that I am unfamiliar with when reading and researching how to find a job. I am currently working with another homeschool mom to put together a workshop for our high schoolers to help prepare them for their job/career search. It seems like so much that I find has more to do with changing careers or resumes for people with experience. How do we help our high schoolers get started? Some of them have college plans. Others are simply hoping to find a part-time job now or in the near future. Do you have any advice or resources that you would recommend? – Stacy
Dear Stacy: How amazing that you have dedicated so much of your life to being a Mom and a fantastic educator! So much of the same rules apply to personal branding whether the candidate is a high school graduate or a mature career professional. In the case of your young job seekers, the focus would be on education, academic achievements, select courses, any key educational projects, extracurricular activities, athletics, leadership roles in school or community organizations, volunteerism, awards, honors, affiliations, and any early work experience. I find that some young candidates do not think of what they can explore on a resume, approaching the task with the mindset of “all I have to showcase is a diploma,” but that is never the case. Additionally, have your young job seekers solicit written recommendations from teachers, supervisors, or those that could comment on their work ethic and unique competencies. Those letters can be taken to an interview, but just as important, you can pull excerpts from those letters to present on the resume and/or cover letter. Once you realize the same rules apply when it comes to personal branding, I think your options will open up on what you can communicate, even on a young candidate’s resume. All the best for a great 2021 school year.
Dear Sam: I have acquired numerous professional certifications during my two-plus decades in the information technology field. I have since moved into cybersecurity and have earned even more professional designations. I have already had to truncate my email signature and business card content to comply with character limits. The sum of my designations—all of which are current and cost money to maintain—conveys the breadth of knowledge and experience I possess. What is the best way to share my designations without seeming to overwhelm people that may not be familiar with them when viewing my LinkedIn profile or resume? — J.
Dear J.: Your field is ripe with professional credentials, so this is not an uncommon concern and question. I would encourage you to prioritize the credentials or acronyms you list after your name to the most relevant and recent ones, ensuring your most important qualifications do not get lost in a sea of letters. You can always list those that are most recent and relevant after your name and then leave the remaining credentials to the Professional Certifications section of your resume and LinkedIn profile. To provide even greater focus, consider exploring your credentials’ depth and breadth in the About section of your LinkedIn profile. When I have worked with clients with similar situations, I have included the credentials’ logos at the top of their resumes. This provides the reader with the ability to connect with the breadth and depth of your qualifications instantly. If that is overwhelming, based on the number of credentials, consider following that same approach within your resume’s Professional Certifications section. This visual approach can help convey a lot of information quickly. I want to stress that you should focus on your most recent and relevant credentials as I would not want a reviewer to see any outdated or archaic credentials after your name as that could date or age your candidacy. In addition, I want to make sure the credentials you are promoting are very aligned with the expected qualifications for the positions you are applying for, ensuring you are not over qualifying your candidacy or making yourself look potentially too expensive. All the best.