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Resume Writing 101: A Brief Guide on How to Craft an Effective Resume for a Non-Traditional TVET Job

Resume Writing 101: A Brief Guide on How to Craft an Effective Resume for a Non-Traditional TVET Job

First impressions matter, and, when applying for a job, this first impression often comes in the form of a resume. But how does one create an effective resume? What information should it have? What is it about you that you  have to say? Crafting a great resume may seem daunting but we’re here with a handy guide to get you on your way to the top of that HR stack. 

What is a Resume?

Let’s start at the  beginning and define our terms. Simply put, a resume is a short one to two page document that summarizes a person’s background, skills, and accomplishments, in order to get hired.  The term hails from the French word, résumé, which actually means, ‘summary.’ It is a summary with one purpose: to market yourself to your future employer as the best person for the position. 

If you’re in the Philippines, the term ‘resume’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms ‘biodata’ and ‘CV.’ Do note that the term CV, or ‘curriculum vitae’ takes on a different nuance in other countries, such as in the United States, where a CV can have a more complete list of skills and detailed credentials.

As is the case with all industries, there are certain specifics that employers like to see in relevance to the positions you hope to be hired for. For example, in the IT sector, companies hope to attract applicants with an educational background and work experiences revolving around programming and UX/UI designing, among others. The TVET industry, too, is the same! Skills certifications and work experiences are highly preferred; and so, the best way to showcase these on your resume would be to use the functional and hybrid formats. For TVET applicants, decide on what to emphasize on your resume — it can be your skills, or both work experience and skill sets. To find out more about how to build your resume through the following styles, check out the following websites: 

Gender Bias in the Job Market

In a perfect world, a hiring manager’s decision to take a chance on a candidate would be based on skills, qualifications and fit. The reality is quite different, however, especially in fields where gender preference traditionally comes into play, industries such as electrical engineering, mining and construction, which are largely male-dominated; or, caregiving, hospitality, and administrative work, which are female-dominated. 

While many hiring managers and enterprises are actively taking strides to eliminate race and gender biases in the hiring process, sometimes, these hard-to-shake biases sneak their way into the language of a want ad or job description

When reading through want ads, men and women behave differently. When noting that they do not fulfill the job descriptions, even if only one of these is missing from their skill set, women do not apply. Men, on the other hand, apply — even if they don’t tick all of the boxes in the job description. 

It is often said that “the magic of advertising is that it can program the brains of an entire society to see, feel and believe something so deeply.” Currently, gendered language promotes the traditional mindset that men belong in heavy work industries, whereas women belong in the support and service fields. 

Now, gendered language is commonly understood as language that has bias towards a specific gender. The use of such has often led women and gender-diverse people to being excluded from male-dominated fields, and men from female-dominated ones.

When this happens, and gendered language in want ads continue to exist, how do men, women, and gender-diverse people break the stereotypical mold for traditionally-male and traditionally-female industries? 

Here is one tip: when you read through a job description, try to identify gender-charged adjectives in the text. Adjectives like dominating, decisive, competitive, outspoken, and strong action verbs such as captured, executed, and calculated all skew masculine. On the other hand, adjectives like supportive, collaborative, nurturing and verbs like conceived, helped and created are associated with the feminine side. By being aware of these, you may be better able to craft a resume that mitigates for these biases. 

What Details Should a Resume Include?

Every resume should be well organized; showcasing relevant information about yourself and the values that you bring to the table, in clearly categorized sections helps to paint a clearer picture of what kind of employee you’ll be to your employers. Now no matter where you are in your career journey or the specific industry you’re applying to, a resume should at least have these core sections. 

Contact Information

Don’t think that a recruiter will automatically reply to you using the email you used to submit your resume. If they print out your two-page masterpiece, and they can’t find your digits or email, then how will they deliver the good news? Always include your name, phone number, and email address in the header of your resume. These days, it may also be beneficial to include your social media and blog links up front – recruiters will typically search for these anyway to get a better read on you. Just make sure your social media profiles are professional and work-friendly. Check this out to learn more on how to craft your header.

Summary

According to Kim Isaacs, resume expert at Monster, a recruiter spends just 31 seconds to scan and judge your resume for pre-approval. That means you have to catch their attention quickly, and a brief summary, or Resume Headline, allows you to do just this. This is how you introduce yourself. Keep this section down to three to five sentences that encapsulate the value that you bring by highlighting your key skills and accomplishments. 

Here’s a guide on how to craft a killer Resume Headline.

Skills

Employers look for people who are best qualified for particular jobs, so having a well-crafted skills section is fundamental. This is where you sell all the skills you’ve acquired and the strengths you’ve developed. Present them in short, bulleted columns to make them easy for employers to read through. As you list down your skills, remember to align them  with the requirements of the job so you can convince your future boss why you’d make a great fit for the position.

If you are a fresh graduate or just entering the workforce for the first time, having a strong set of skills is doubly important as this should make up for your current lack of experience. Jobstreet has great advice on what skills you can include if you’re fresh out of college.

Professional Experience

Aside from your skills, the most scrutinized part of your resume will be your Professional Experience. This will give the employer a better idea of what you can do for the company. When you craft this section, go back to your resume’s purpose: to market yourself as the best person for the position. You do this by narrating what you’ve accomplished in your previous jobs and how you did it. Don’t just put down a list of your duties and everyday responsibilities. Give your future boss a vision of what value you can bring to his company by quantifying your achievements with concrete measures of success. Note, it’s best to put this all down in reverse chronological order: most recent position first.

Now, if you’re coming straight out of school, fret not. There are many things that you can put into this section, such as internships, volunteer work, side hustles, family business work experience, part-time jobs, and even school projects you’ve led. All these things have contributed to who you are and can speak about your work ethic and values. Here’s an article by Kalibrr.com that can help those with no prior job experience.

Educational Background

When you start crafting this section of your resume, remember, you don’t need to list all the schools you’ve attended since childhood. Instead, mention your degree, the school you graduated from, and the year. If you graduated with honors, say so. List also other pertinent certifications, seminars, and training you may have received — this is important for you, Tech-Voc folks. If you have no prior work experience, it’s better to lead with your Educational Background than your limited Professional Experience. 

Things You Should Leave Out of Your Resume

Now that you know what information to put on your resume, here’s a quick list of what to leave out and why, courtesy of CareerBuilder.com

ID Photo

Do you get stressed over how you have to be professional AND good-looking in your resume photo? Yup, us too… but guess what: ID photos are no longer a standard requirement in the hiring process (unless, of course, requested by the hiring manager)! You may not know this, but ID photos actually reinforce hiring biases. In a shift to neutral stances and the promotion of gender diversity, some companies have taken to a process called “blind hiring”. This involves taking away identifiable characteristics that hint to a particular job candidate or gender, that are not relevant to the selection process. These identifiable characteristics could be your ID photo and name, among other things! 

Objective Statement

In the past, it was common to include this in your resume, but it has since fallen out of favor, replaced by the Summary. It’s better to give a brief statement of what you bring to the table than it is to declare an objective, which may not line up with what the hiring manager is looking for. 

Hobbies

The hiring manager is interested in your skills and qualifications, not what you do on your weekends. Only include hobbies if they are directly related to the job you are applying for. 

Irrelevant Work Experience

When you are just starting out on your career journey, sure, you need to fill up that resume with all of the work experience you can muster. But, if you’ve already got a few notches on your belt, consider only including work experience that has relevance to the job you are applying for. Also, listing too many jobs may give the hiring manager the impression that you aren’t serious about staying on for the long term. 

Too Much Educational Information

Again, if you’re just starting out, you can include more detail about your education, but, as you start gaining more work experience, education should take up less space on your resume. 

Lies

Above all else, make sure that your resume contains only facts. Exaggerating or outrightly lying on your resume just gives a hiring manager a reason not to hire you.  

Qualities of an Effective Resume

Crafting an effective resume is a skill in itself, so with more practice and peer reviews, the better you will be at writing it. There are, of course, required qualities that are non-negotiable, such as consistent formatting, no distracting typographic errors, clarity in communication, and relevance to the position being applied for. 

Circling back to our earlier discussion on gender bias, it’s worth taking the time to consider the tone of your resume, and if it includes some misplaced gender-charged language as well. 

While some literature suggests that you can determine whether a resume was written by a man or a woman from the choices of words used, that in itself can be a stereotype. But is it even true? Career website Zippia.com has analyzed over 10,000 resumes using the Stanford Named Entity Recognizer to check for gender cues in the language. The good news is that the difference between male and female resumes is statistically insignificant, meaning it won’t out you. Instead, you’re more likely to be discriminated against because of your name, rather than the text of your resume. 

The article does suggest that you make sure your resume copy grabs attention through confident writing, as long as you use it correctly. If you’ve detected gender-biased language in the job description or want ad, you may want to match that in your tone. Are you a woman applying to a male-dominated field such as IT? Maybe power verbs like “implement” and “achieve” in your Summary will help make you stand out. Always remember, a resume is made to showcase your best qualities to an employer. It’s an awkward time to start being modest.

Stop being modest? So does that mean I should outline all my achievements, both personal and professional? Not close. We’re not saying to write a novel-length resume to emphasize your strong professional background and include tidbits of your personal successes, which women tend to do more than men. That singing contest you probably won in the 8th grade? Best not to include that in a TVET-based resume, unless, of course, you plan to be a voice coach. 

Men, on the other hand, give concrete examples of achievements. Despite some of their examples not exactly fitting into the narrative either, it showcases certain personal qualities that employers can assume. For instance, being an awarded Girl Scout or belonging to the Eagle Scout rank can exhibit your dedication and perseverance to succeed in the field. These qualities can help demonstrate who you are as an individual, and who you might be as a future employee.These kinds of accomplishments can help boost your standing in the job application process.     

Monster provides a useful checklist for evaluating your resume. 

Get Started and Get Out There

There is just so much more to be said about creating effective resumes, but, sadly, we’ve come to the end of our short guide. What we want now is for you to get cracking with your own killer resumes so that you can find the job that’s right for you. Remember to focus on your resume’s  purpose – market yourself as the best person for the position – and try not to get caught up in the minutiae of what font to use or what margins to set. Do not be scared away by gender biases you may encounter in the real working world. Knowledge is power, as they say. Now, you are aware how these might happen and how to respond to these biases. Check out the links we’ve included in the article for more practical tips. Good luck!

 

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