I was working for a government organization and there were news reports that the public sector were in for some big layoffs due to downsizing. The rumour mill was in full swing at work.
I was in a union environment and I was at the bottom of the years-of-service ladder as I had only been there a year. Was there any hope I would keep my job? Things were not looking good. I got the news a few weeks later that about a dozen of us were going to be laid off, including myself.
It is a hard thing to lose your job, but it does happen and if this has happened to you, the sooner you get back on your feet the better. Fortunately for me my employer sent me on career counselling as part of the "downsizing package". Not everyone will have this opportunity, however, so I wanted to share with you some things I learned.
I feel that even during a seemingly bad experience, you can always learn something positive. One of the things I remember, and have put to good use, was a workshop on resume writing. I hope this will help you to write your resume if you are looking for a job or if you just need to update your old resume.
In resume writing it is suggested that any experience over 10 years is too old to put on your resume. What? They don`t want to know about my summer job as a babysitter? And no need to list your duties as that is considered old-style resume writing. This was radical for me. I was used to listing all my duties on my resume: maintaining a filing system, answering the telephone, typing correspondence, etc. Instead they recommended setting out your skills and strengths in point form right up front so the potential employer can see if you have the skills for the job.
Under years of experience rather than putting four years’ experience try, "Almost five years of progressive achievement"; or for 11 years’ experience try, "Over 10 years of progressive achievement". I must admit it did sound more impressive.
I use this format in writing my resume and have always had good comments from potential employers, especially on the fact that it is so easy to read. And let’s face it, we want them to read it.
Here is an example of a resume. Feel free to use it.
R E S U M E:
Co-ordinates (Name, Address etc.)
OBJECTIVE: [What is your objective? What kind of position are you looking for and what do you have to offer? Customize this paragraph to the job you are applying for. For example I was applying for a job in the legal environment so wanted to highlight that experience.] Administrative support utilizing strengths in typing, speed, accuracy, software programs and organization to provide high quality services to professional staff in a legal environment.
SUMMARY: [Summarize your work experience] Over 25 years of progressive achievement as a secretary in the legal, medical and high-tech fields. Recent experience as a legal assistant in a major law firm. Previous experience as a legal assistant to a Corporate lawyer. Highly skilled typist with excellent knowledge of various computer software programs.
SKILLS AND STRENGTHS: [Set out your computer skills, but also your strengths such as:] · Fast accurate typist · Ability to work with minimal supervision · Interpersonal skills and a team player · Organization skills · Hard worker · Reliable
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: [Highlight some of your accomplishments] · Maintained excellent attendance record · [Any courses you have been on]
RECENT WORK EXPERIENCE: Name of Employer and Job Title September 2004 - Present Name of Employer and Job Title November 1996 – September 2004
PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE: [If you feel you need to put some of your older experience (anything over 10 years) write a paragraph summarizing what you have done. If they want to know more, they can ask you at the interview.] For example: Secretarial experience in offices including [names of different companies you worked for].
EDUCATION: [If your education is 20 years ago and only includes high school, I would recommend putting it after your Work Experience or not putting it at all, your work experience becomes more relevant if your education is too old.]
LANGUAGE: [Languages spoken]
REFERENCES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST