By Tova Jaffee
If you’re looking for a job, your job is to sell yourself. When I meet with clients seeking employment, I always ask about their skills, qualifications, strengths and accomplishments. I explain they need to market themselves and include those important points in their resume.
I have found that there seems to be three types of clients:
- The Very Humble, Self -Deprecating Client
- The Brash and Bold Client
- The Moderate Client
At the JCS Career Center, we see a lot of very humble, self-deprecating types. Although they will insist they’ve done nothing over the past 10 years, that answer is not acceptable to me. Most of the time clients are engaged in some type of activity that can be used as transferable skills or professional experience. So, how do you parse out what is the value of your experience especially if you have very little paid work experience? Examine what you have done for family, neighbors, and the community. Think about accomplishments, positive feedback or gratitude for a service you provided. The trick is looking at that experience in a new light and framing it in the proper way to make it stand out on a resume. It’s all in the ‘spin.’
Brash and bold clients need to watch out or they might get into trouble. They may be listing skills on their resume that they no longer perform or might never have mastered in the first place. Accomplishments should highlight and speak to your current abilities. Choose specific examples which are relevant to the job and will promote your transferable skills. It is counterproductive to mislead the employer.
The moderate client is typically able to achieve a happy medium – effectively selling without overselling. Figuring out the right combination isn’t always easy. Like many things in life, it’s a balancing act.
Here are some basic rules of disclosure in resumes and interviews:
- Never, ever lie. There is creativity involved in marketing oneself, but that’s not the same as taking liberties with the truth or stretching it to the grossly unrecognizable.
- “Just the facts ma’am”. Only volunteer relevant information and what has been asked of you. No extras.
- If it hasn’t happened yet, you cannot put it in your resume. Graduating next spring does not mean you have a college degree now.
- Appreciate the value of what you have done. Volunteer experience, work done in your child’s school, caring for Grandma is skilled experience, including the ultimate job: being a stay at home mom.
Sifting through one’s professional experience and selecting that which is most important while promoting your strengths can be challenging. A career coach who can view your professional history with an objective and discerning eye can help you best present your value to employers.
The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment assistance that helps job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation and connections to employers who are hiring. For more information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbaltimore.org.
Tova Jaffee is a Career Coach for the JCS Career Center.