Have you ever worked at a job that isn’t exactly what you want to be doing for the rest of your life? I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t. And as someone whose parents’ own a little fast food Chinese restaurant, I can tell you that I have many years of experience that aren’t exactly relevant to my current career counseling profession.
So, how do those jobs fit in on your resume? You definitely gain awesome professional skills working at coffee shops, summer camps, and, yes, takeout restaurants, and should consider listing them on your resume if you don’t have enough “relevant” experience to fill it with, but it can be pretty tricky to make a part-time position sound compelling on your application without overselling it (i.e., you don’t want to be that person that lists himself as “Founder and CEO” to describe a part-time babysitting gig for neighbors).
To find that balance, here are a few ways to focus on what’s really important—and impress any hiring manager.
Emphasize Your Results
The best way to write compelling resume bullets is to focus on your results rather than your responsibilities. This is especially true if your job duties aren’t clearly relevant to your target position. In this case, your best bet at impressing a hiring manager is showing that you’re a high performer by outlining your achievements and showing your impact.
When crafting your bullet points, consider not just what you did, but also the results, outcomes, or benefits of your actions.
Local Country Club Youth Golf Instructor
- Instructed six 14-year-old students and developed their golfing skills while caring for their wellbeing by providing sunscreen, water, supervision, and golf instruction; ultimately facilitated a successful summer with 100% student retention and no injuries or complaints.
Draw Parallels With Your Target Position
Another way to think about your additional experience is to emphasize the parallels between your part-time gig and your target position—think soft skills, work environment, or values.
Take a step back from the nitty-gritty details and consider the similarities at a higher level. Can you highlight your client-facing responsibilities, strong communication skills, or ability to work collaboratively? Or, perhaps you could underscore your capacity for multitasking in a high-stakes environment and how your previous role aligned with your personal belief in green business practices.
Burgers To-Go Team Member
- Served 100+ people per day in a fast-paced environment and received cash management, assembly line teamwork, and food handling training.
Demonstrate Your Ability to Learn Quickly
Lastly, it never hurts to accentuate your knack for picking up new skills quickly. In the end, if some of your previous experience just plain isn’t relevant, you can at the very least use it as a way to showcase your ability to learn something new—fast.
Consider this an opportunity to give an example of how you were put into a novel situation and excelled. This is a universally desirable skill and can go a surprisingly long way, particularly with companies known for hiring for “potential” rather than related experience.
- Communicated technology product details and provided exceptional customer service effectively to 50+ people per day leading to a promotion to Assistant Manager after only 4 months.
We’ve all worked odd jobs, jobs that eventually probably won’t be listed on our resumes. But until that time comes when you’ve piled on enough relevant experience, it doesn’t hurt to build up your resume with other gigs. In fact, it could be that extra bit that makes you unique and boosts you above other candidates.
Photo of coffee shop courtesy of Shutterstock.
TopicsResumes , Job Search , Syndication , Resumes & Cover Letters , Getting Started , Workforce180
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author