Yesterday I stood facing and talking with 5 people who had shown up at a résumé workshop. Before we really got started, I engaged them in some small talk, asking each person what job or career they were looking for. Here’s who was in the room:
- A late 40’s woman with 20 years experience working with the homeless who stated she had no formal degree or diploma in the field, but did have a certificate in the hairdressing industry.
- A 60-year-old man who said he could no longer do what he’d done much of his life and didn’t really have any idea what he wanted to do for the next 5-8 years of his life in terms of work.
- A couple in their 40’s who looked like they’d lived a rough life; him with no computer skills at all, her with grade 8 education. They’d both lost their jobs as a Superintendent couple due to some negligence on their part. They too had no idea what they wanted to do – they just needed resumes though to get work.
- A late 20’s year old guy who wanted a factory job – for now. He had no idea of a long-term goal, but was somewhere between no longer wanting to wash dishes and whatever he’d eventually do.
Okay, so of the 5 people above, the fellow in his 20’s is the only one who knows what job he’s after. He’s the one who you could sit with one-to-one and start looking for factory or warehouse jobs and build a targeted resume. In doing so, it becomes necessary to take his past experiences and highlight his transferable skills, emphasize his physical stamina, good health, work ethic etc.; the qualities needed by the employers in the job ads we looked at. Good on him for at least knowing what he’d like to do in the short-term while he figures out what to do long-term. He will be at the least, earning some income, learning and improving upon some job skills, and these will keep him attractive to future employers.
The woman who showed up with 20 year’s experience working with the homeless said that she wanted to work with the disadvantaged; be they teens, young adults etc. however, she admitted with no formal training over the past 20 year’s, she was finding it tough. I applauded her for having a pretty accurate picture of her circumstances. She’d be pretty hard-pressed to compete with the competition in her field who would present Child and Youth Worker or Social Service Worker Diploma’s. Her 20 year’s experience might even work against her not for her in the view of some employer’s who want to mold and shape their newest hire without having to have someone leave behind how they’ve done things elsewhere.
To her credit, she’d been thinking of a return to school to get the formal education that would compliment her experience, and vastly improve her employment opportunities. I think what she really needed was the validation of someone in the field agreeing with her that this was a good plan.
Now the 60-year-old man was new to the area, devoid of contacts, resources and knowledge of the community in which he now finds himself. I felt for him; here he was with an active, intelligent mind but a body that no longer let him to do the physical work he’d done his whole life. Reinventing himself at 60 was scary; where to begin? What to do? Time slipping by each day he delayed in moving ahead but not having any idea what direction to move in. Hard to do a résumé when the desired goal is so clouded, so for him the answer wasn’t a resume at all but rather a career exploration class with a healthy number of self-assessments to get a better handle on his skills, interests and abilities.
The couple? They were the most challenging to me. Insistent on just needing a résumé for each of them but again no idea of what the résumé was made for. With no interest in taking the time to better understand themselves, their interests etc., they were just focused on getting a résumé – any résumé it seemed. When I hear this from people, I believe there is a motive existing I’m unaware of. Who needs the résumé really? The person themselves or someone else; like a Caseworker, a government agency, someone providing them with help – provided they show up with a résumé. Hey I might be wrong but….
In each case, I didn’t make a résumé at all. Rather, I booked each of them in for a personal resume consultation of an hour and a half. Between the first meeting yesterday and their appointed times, I’ve asked them to look at what’s available and come with a better idea of what they might like to do. A specific job posting makes crafting a résumé so much more beneficial.
“But if I bring you an ad”, began the guy with the spouse, “and you make me a résumé for that job, then I’ll need another one when I apply for another job.” I guess I’d got my point across after all; one resume for one job and a separate resume for each job application. He gets it. I know it sounds daunting – especially for someone with no computer skills. A class on basic computer skills is a good idea to get started.