It's In The Proof!

Opinions about what belongs in a good resume are a little like belly buttons – everybody’s got one!  Myself included.  Career development specialists, employers, human resource professionals, corporate recruiters and head-hunters, hiring managers, department heads, and every successful job seeker, all believe they know the secrets that go into creating resumes that get results.  And many of us are right, and have had success crafting documents that get the readers (read: hiring authorities) attention.
Many of the professionals’ ideas about resume creation have a number of things in common.  The most important being:

  • Start with a clear goal, an Objective that is supported by the rest of document.
  • Present your information in a clear, concise, and consistent format that is easy to read and easy to understand.
  • Clearly express what you have done, and how you have accomplished the things you do.
  • Be able to substantiate your claims.

But for some job seekers, listing and verifying their skills is a struggle.  A young man who had recently returned to the US after living in Spain for 3 years, asked me for help with his resume. His work history – before and including his overseas adventures – had been pretty diverse; he taught Spanish and English, worked construction, did some modeling and acting, and now wanted to be a translator.
Though he was able to show a near continuous work history, his varied activities had little apparent relation to one another.  Complicating matters further, the resume he sent me contained not one shred of descriptive language that indicated any specifics of what he did or how he did it on any particular job.
When I explained to him the need to provide specifics about his accomplishments and how he performed his tasks, he indignantly told me, “That’s not how they do it in Spain!”
Being personally unaware if human resources professionals in Spain were mind readers, telepaths and totally intuitive, I simply reminded the young man that he wasn’t presently looking for work in Spain, and that if he ever hoped to find work in this country, he needed to include some particulars in his document.  So we started generating the language and statements that could accurately describe his skills, and how they might relate to translation work.  But something was still missing!
Confident in his abilities to speak, read and write in both English and Spanish, and having done casual translation on his construction jobs, he had never provided formal translation services for anyone who could verify his proficiency.  His bilingual upbringing aided his fluency; luckily his teaching of English and Spanish while in Spain did not require any certification.  Regrettably, he didn’t maintain contact with anyone in Spain like supervisors or principals who could formally substantiate his skills. And he never pursued the documentation because he didn’t think he would need confirmation of his “natural” abilities to do his chosen work in the US.
His lack of substantiation was truly going to be a problem in any kind of formal work situation.  If he had wanted to continue working in construction, his bilingual fluency would have been an unquestioned asset, but in an office environment, the lack of verification was going to create an uphill struggle he didn’t want to face.
So, without the appropriate documentation, what could he do to gain the credibility he needed for success?  I thought he would benefit from getting certified as a translator.  And thankfully there were a few relatively short-term options he could pursue to acquire the proof he needed.
One option was through a local community college that would provide proficiency examinations and an appropriate credential.  There were also formal language schools that offered testing and verification of his skills.  And, if he has any desire to work in the medical field, many hospitals or their management companies provide the needed testing and certification because of their in-house need for translators to aid communication between doctors, patients and their families.
Choices and options are always a good thing!  Within a few fast months, our intrepid job seeker can have a current credential to document his primary proficiency, and a key statement for inclusion on his resume.   On any resume, showing relevancy of your experience is only part of the story.  You must be able to substantiate your claims, and that proof may only be a few months away.
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