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Job search at the Career Centre

With summer fast approaching, the job-search panic is felt even more strongly by students with every passing day. According to the Career Centre, one of the most common questions students have is how to make their retail experience appealing to potential employers in other fields – after all, many of us have plenty of experience folding jeans or manning the deep fryer. The question, then, is how to turn that retail experience into viable fodder for a professional resume.

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Date Posted: April 13, 2011
Print Edition: April 8, 2011

By Karen Aney (Staff Writer) – Email

With summer fast approaching, the job-search panic is felt even more strongly by students with every passing day. According to the Career Centre, one of the most common questions students have is how to make their retail experience appealing to potential employers in other fields – after all, many of us have plenty of experience folding jeans or manning the deep fryer. The question, then, is how to turn that retail experience into viable fodder for a professional resume.

Crystal Drouillard of the Career Centre had some tips to offer students attempting to bulk up their resume for a job search beyond the retail field. First, she suggested, when writing a resume, make sure your descriptions are dynamic. Don’t just copy and paste the job description – use verbs to describe what you did. Terms like ‘maintained’ and ‘organized,’ while they may seem to be overstating the monotony of your minimum wage gig, make you look like a more responsible candidate. For those of you who haven’t been to an English class in a while, the Career Centre has an entire list of action words that are perfect for a resume. Your retail experience may not directly qualify you for some of the jobs you’re applying for, but if you highlight the responsibilities you had as a night manager at McDonald’s your potential boss will realize you’re obviously capable of handling a multitude of different tasks while maintaining a pleasant dining experience for the typical nocturnal characters, drunks, and insomniac students all at once – and that’s priceless.

When creating your resume, it’s helpful to keep a master copy that includes all your education, certifications, and job history. Then, for each job you apply for, pick and choose the items most applicable to the job description. This takes a little more time than printing up 30 copies of one resume and spending an afternoon handing them out, but you’ll thank yourself when that childcare job you applied for doesn’t see “Amateur Porn Star” in your work history.

One thing to remember when deciding what work experience to use is that volunteering counts. Yes, you did it out of the goodness of your heart – but if you’re selling daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society, you learned how to deal with fresh flowers, didn’t you? That’s a skill that’s practically required of entry-level grunts these days – why hire a gardener when you can send the new kid out between coffee runs?

When outlining your retail experience, be sure to mention any instances when you’ve gone above and beyond the typical job requirements. Your potential boss may have 83 applicants who have worked at Starbucks, but you may be the only one that could identify every bean by smell – make yourself stand out any way you can.

Finally, make sure to use your Career Centre. They can help to tailor a resume, have great samples available for you to model your work after, and can even go through a mock interview with you. Furthermore, they sometimes have close relationships with potential employers through the Co-op programs. Translation? They know what you need to say to get the job. To make an appointment, visit www.ufv.ca/Jobs.htm.

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