As recently as five years ago, many trade and vocational positions (eg: auto mechanics, beauticians, plumbers, etc.) did not require that an applicant produce a resume with relevant professional and vocational history. The interested party simply approached the individual in charge of hiring and asked for a job. In today’s tight employment market, with many of the local operations being absorbed by corporate-run chains or franchises, a resume is an absolute must. And like all resumes, the content must be tailored to the appropriate audience and contain relevant candidate skills.
1. For candidates who are High School Graduates
High school vocational classes such as typing, data entry, word processing, auto mechanics, and the like should be stressed on the resume, in particular if there is no accompanying professional experience. A detailed listing of the coursework can be provided, and if the final grade was stellar, this should also be included. In many positions open to high school graduates, hiring managers want to know about expertise in computer software (Word and Excel lead the list) or speed with 10-key.
Additionally, if a candidate has excelled in English or math during high school, this should clearly be stated in the resume as these skills are required for administrative assistants and in other entry-level positions. The key is to match the employer-listed qualifications (math skills, writing skills) to what was learned in high school.
2. Trade School Graduates
If the trade school attended is a leader in the field and recognized for producing outstanding graduates, then the name of the school should be stated in the Qualifications Summary (eg: Recent graduate of the Bates-Fowler Beauty School in Hollywood, California. . .). This provides immediate and relevant information to the hiring manager, while substantially enhancing an applicant’s candidacy.
Next, a listing of all relevant certifications and coursework (with hours completed) should be provided. If the candidate was a recipient of an academic scholarship or received an award for outstanding coursework, this should be appropriately showcased.
Again, the key is to tailor what was learned in trade or vocational school to what the employer is seeking in terms of qualifications and skills.
3. Emphasizing Technical Certifications
This data is crucial to a hiring manager and can be showcased in two ways.
A. If the certification has an accompanying icon or logo (eg: a Microsoft or Oracle certification), then that image should be placed in the header of the resume where the candidate’s name and other contact information is provided. This provides visually-arresting and immediate data to the hiring manager. Within the resume, the date the certification was received and the granting institution should be provided.
B. If there are numerous certifications, then a listing should be showcased within a special section directly beneath the opening summary. The date the certification was received and the granting institution should be provided in this section.
4. Using Temporary (Contract) Jobs to Downplay a Spotty Employment History:
In modern resumes, hiring managers generally prefer a reverse-chronological format with the most recent job presented first, followed by the next most recent, etc., so that they can track job history and spot any gaps in employment. In today’s job market, however, the reality is that many workers are making do with contract jobs until a permanent position comes along.
To downplay numerous jobs of short duration, it’s always wise to list the temp agency as the employer along with the total dates of employment. The actual place of employment should be listed after the job title and followed by the exact dates the candidate was at that location.
JOHN JONES EMPLOYMENT AGENCY, Boise, Idaho 1999 – 2003
Administrative Assistant, Fred Ware Industries (2002-2003)
Data Entry Clerk, Trent Howard, Inc. (2001-2002)
Receptionist, Phillips Tools (1999-2000)
The above accomplishes two things:
A. It shows consistency of employment with the agency. Hiring managers are aware that the economy is producing more and more temporary/contract workers, rather than permanent employees. The above listing shows that the worker did well enough with the agency and the contract employers to be sent on numerous positions – therefore, the worker must have performed well.
B. If the contract jobs were of increasing responsibility, this will clearly be shown in the titles held – receptionist to data entry clerk to administrative assistant. Hiring managers take note of this upward progression, even if it were done on a contract basis.
5. Breaking into a Male-Dominated Trade for Female Trade Professionals
In today’s workplace, a woman’s place is everywhere as long as she has the skills and qualifications to meet the demands of the job.
In building the resume for a traditionally male-dominated field, it’s important for the female candidate to showcase the following:
A. Certifications or licensure required for the position – always include dates of attainment and the granting institution. If the final grade was stellar, include that as an inducement to the hiring manager. All academic scholarships and honors should also be listed.
B. Physical qualifications: Some male-dominated jobs require lifting loads of 50 lbs. or more in addition to the general duties. It’s important for a female candidate to state in the opening summary that she can meet the physical demands of the job. Additional physical information can be given regarding the candidate being a non-smoker, non-drinker, and free of substance abuse.
C. Willingness to engage in business-related travel and ability to relocate. In many male-dominated fields, hiring managers may still feel that a female candidate will be tied to a certain area because of family concerns. If the candidate does not have these restrictions, they should be noted in the opening summary of the resume.
Additionally, the overall tone of the resume should be as businesslike as possible, and should market whatever capabilities the female candidate has that can get the job done.