If it’s been a while since you last applied for a job, you may need to update your resume. Your resume serves as an introduction to an employer, and it is an opportunity to highlight the skills and traits that make you an excellent candidate for the job.
First and foremost, your resume is your chance to display what you bring to the table. You want to make the best impression possible, so avoid prison language. For example, if you are mentioning skills that you learned during your time incarcerated, you can indicate the state or city where you acquired those skills, and then divulge more information about your past during the interview.
If you do not have a lot of work experience, think about the skills you have—both your soft and hard skills that are beneficial and relevant in the workplace. For example, are you a problem-solver, or do you have excellent negotiation skills? Are you organized or good at time management? These soft skills are worth mentioning along with the more hands-on training skills you might have. Also, volunteer and community service experience make a great addition on a resume.
If you feel your experience or skills seem to be a little light for the job you are pursuing, there are lots of online resources that can help you to gain new knowledge and skills. Websites like Udemy offer thousands of online video courses; particularly computer-based skills like Microsoft Excel and coding languages such as Java, which are very useful in this increasingly digital world. Courses on Udemy begin at $10, making it an affordable education resource. Skillshare, another website with a similar concept, has a broader range of topics for you to explore. In addition, LinkedIn, a professional social networking site, offers some courses and skill tests that you can take to show employers your strengths.
Research the company and utilize the job description to your advantage. The job description and requirements state what they are looking for in a candidate, so try to incorporate those keywords in your resume where they make sense. Oftentimes, companies use computer systems to scan resumes and pick ones that align with their criteria, so including the appropriate keywords may give you a better chance at being selected for an interview. But always be truthful in your claims to any skills or qualifications.
If there is no job description available, use this free tool to find generic job descriptions for a variety of careers in which you are interested.
Keep your resume professional and organized in a clear, readable manner. There are lots of free templates available online. Most employers prefer a chronologically formatted resume, but that can draw attention to large gaps in employment history. A functional resume format, which showcases skills over experience, may be more appropriate.
Further, use bulleted lists with short phrases, rather than long sentences on your resume. Depending on where you are applying you can get creative, but in general it is best to keep a simple format with black text on a white background and no photos. Use a professional font, such as Times New Roman, and keep the text between 10 and 12 points. Typically resumes are one page in length.
Once you’ve drafted your resume, ask someone to look over it for any errors before submitting it. Save a digital copy for yourself, and print extra hard copies to bring to interviews.