Angie Nelson, from the blog The Work at Home Wife, offers solutions to address common work-at-home resume woes that telecommute jobseekers may encounter.
There’s nothing quite like the fear of writing your resume. Job-hunting is bad enough, but then you need to sell yourself in words before you even get to an interview? And what if you don’t have much experience or have employment gaps? With those roadblocks slowing you down, you might decide to just binge Netflix or eat some ice cream – anything but facing that resume.
I understand that fear, and I’m here to show you how to overcome some of those resume woes. I’ll help you get on the right track, and then that Netflix-binge-and-ice-cream situation can be a reward for a job well done.
4 Ways to Address Common Work-at-Home Resume Woes
First, choose the right resume type. We all know the chronological resume format – that’s what they show you in high school, where you list each job you’ve had with descriptions of your duties as bullet points. However, it is often more beneficial to apply for work-at-home positions with a functional resume. These resumes show off your skills rather than your work history. They can downplay gaps in work history – also, if your previous employment doesn’t relate to the job field you’re trying to get into, you can play up the relevant skills you’ve developed from irrelevant jobs.
Concern #1 – Minimal Work History
So, you don’t have much work experience—maybe you’re just out of high school, or didn’t work your way through college, or got married and became a stay-at-home mom or dad. Whatever the reason, you don’t have much in the way of employment to list on your resume. Disaster, right? Not quite. The trick here is to know what counts as experience, and to build your resume accordingly.
Have you ever been a babysitter? Dogsitter? Dogwalker? You have work experience. And you’ve developed skills and traits such as accountability, punctuality, customer relations, and more. Have you completed any major projects for school, high school or college? You’ve developed skills there, too – whether you composed writing for a portfolio project (deadline-oriented writing) or worked through a small business simulation (business administration). Have you ever played a sport? You may have team-building and leadership skills. Have you ever volunteered—for example, at a hospital or a zoo or a soup kitchen? Think of all that you learned while volunteering – every bit of that is fodder for your resume. Don’t forget internships either.
Concern #2 – Gaps in Work History
We all know it doesn’t look good to have large gaps in your employment history, even though there are tons of good reasons to explain those gaps. When you’re pitching yourself to a new employer, though, you don’t want to find yourself explaining personal matters that detract from how awesome you’d be as an employee. Using the functional resume helps disguise these gaps as I mentioned above. Another tactic you can use is by squeezing those gaps for experience.
Is the gap due to leaving the workforce to care for children—or the elderly, or a disabled person? Mine that for applicable experience related to home care, schedule management, appointment booking and anything else you can think of. Did you leave the country for volunteer purposes (Peace Corps) or a church mission? That’s resume fodder, too.
Don’t forget that school is also one of the best reasons to have employment gaps and make it work for you on your resume. Prospective employers love education. Also, any classroom teaching experience or paper presentations or research skills can also bulk up your resume.
Concern #3 – Too Much Work History
Having too much experience can be as dangerous as having too little. Job-hopping may make prospective employers worry about your loyalty, or too many jobs for other reasons might lower their opinion of your employability. So, if you’ve had a ton of jobs in a short period, you may want to limit what you list on your resume. This can be done in a couple of ways: as always, use a functional resume that downplays your chronological work history. Then take it one step further and keep the work history you do provide laser-focused to relevant job history – only list those positions that relate to the job field you’re targeting. Also, you can narrow the field further by only listing the positions you’ve held in the last five years.
Concern #4 – Overqualified for Position
Sometimes, you’ll discover that you’re just plain overqualified for the position you want. You’d think too much experience wouldn’t be a problem, but prospective employers may worry you’ll get bored of the position or your salary needs will be too high. How can you keep them from trashing your resume if they think you’re too good for the job? It all goes back to building a functional resume, keeping it focused for the job you want, and drawing them in with a cover letter.
Make sure that your resume only lists those skills and work history that directly relate to the job you’d like to land. Use your cover letter to emphasize your excitement to work with the specific company you’re targeting, and play up that your experience can be a great asset to the company. It may also help to mention you’re looking for a long-term career.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
When finalizing your resume, never forget the most important step of all: proofread that thing. I cannot emphasize this enough. Any spelling mistake or grammar error on a resume is enough to sink you and disqualify you from consideration. If you’re no good at proofreading yourself, ask a friend with good written English skills to look over it for you. If you don’t have enough time for that, try reading each part of your resume out loud – it can be easier to spot mistakes that way. Whatever you do, don’t rely only on Microsoft Word or Google Docs to show you misspelled words or bad grammar. Those programs can’t catch every mistake. For example, if you type “do” but meant to type “due,” spell check is going to miss that—but a recruiter won’t.
I hope you feel better equipped to take on writing your resume now. Remember: choose the correct resume type, brainstorm relevant work experience, keep your resume laser-focused for the job you want, and proofread, proofread, proofread. That’s really all there is to it.
Have you encountered one of these work-at-home resume woes during your search for a telecommute job? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
Angie Nelson began working from home in 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. Visit her site for a free 7-day series on finding work from home.
Joining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.
Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.