I’m going to start by telling you that it’s going to okay. Whether you’re here because you quit, are looking for a career change, you got laid off, or that Alpaca wool hat startup didn’t quite pan out, you are going to find a new job that you love.
But if you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that your resume isn’t making you feel terribly confident right at this moment. You should know that most people overestimate the amount of trouble that a lack of work experience or a big gap in jobs are going to cause them, but there are also plenty of things you can do in the next two weeks to give yourself a new line on your resume and fill it up a bit. Consider these recommendations:
1. Be certifiably excellent
Here’s the easiest one - make yourself look more qualified by becoming more qualified.
Most people fret over the number of feathers in their work experience cap, but often ignore classes and certifications that would do just as well to show their knowledge. And, even better, most people can get one such certification in under two weeks, often for totally free
This is going to vary by field, but marketers can get the official nod from Hubspot or Marketo. Salespeople can get Salesforce certified. Engineers can learn a new programming language (or get a badge for one they already know). You data folks out there should check out Google Analytics Academy.
And there are other, broader options for folks with less defined career paths. Get a familiarity in business law from MIT or learn to code from the University of Michigan. You can even get a certificate for fluency in a foreign language or First Aid.
Any program you can finish in two weeks isn’t going to compare to a 4-year degree, but it will fill up a blank spot, give you a story to tell, and show your future employer that you’re a lifelong learner who is likely to continue growing after they hire you.
2. Start your own business (Even if it doesn’t make any money)
Most people can start a company in two weeks. Notice, I did not say that most people can start a good or successful company in two weeks, but creating a service that brings in a few bucks and teaches you something is easily attainable.
I know - easier said than done right? But I’m going to ask you to set aside the thought of whether someone actually wants what you can sell. Do you crochet? Set up a shop on Etsy. Are you a photographer? Set up a website with a page for your pricing. Or let’s go old school: buy a $50 lawn mower on craigslist and mow lawns for $20.
Instead, your goal should be to start something that can get one customer - just one, even if it’s your Mom - so that you can add that experience to your resume.
This was an approach I took in a recent job search. I took a break from spamming half the world with resumes and put together a monthly shipping service related to a hobby of mine. I did this easily using Shopify and a service called Recharge - and I even got a few customers!
But way more important was that I could add my little service to my resume (with the title Founder, of course) and I was asked about it in nearly all my interviews. Not only am I confident that I could set up a similar service much more easily in the future, but I was able to tell a story about recognizing a problem and the way that I solved it - skills that every employer wants. And if you have two weeks, you can do the same thing.
3. Volunteer position
You probably don’t volunteer. Hold on - don’t get defensive! That’s not a judgement statement, just something that’s statistically probable. In the USA, barely a quarter of people volunteer for charity work once a year.
That means you’re missing out at an easy way to make yourself look great in your next interview. A recent Deloitte study found that 82% (!!!) of hiring managers prefer candidates with volunteer experience on their resume. But less than a third of candidates actually list any.
At a base level, you can definitely find an organization that cleans up creeks or scrubs gluten off at-risk penguins, but you can probably reach higher than that too.
I’ll bet you $20, right here and now, that there’s a charity organization within 15 miles of you that’s looking for regular contributions from someone in your industry - and they’ll probably give you a title for it. Then, you’ll not just be someone who cleans up creeks on weekends, you’ll be the Assistant Logistics Manager for the Friends of the Allagash Creek. How prestigious! Even if all that means is you bring orange slices once a month.
So go volunteer. You’ll get a valuable new line on your resume, you’ll gain some work experience, and you might even do a little good.
4. Add a professional headshot
Ready for some fun numbers? That job post that you’re looking at (the perfect one, the one that would make you complete as a human being) is going to get 250 applications with resumes similar to yours. And the hiring manager working on it is probably handling at least ten open positions at the same time. So they’ll be pouring over 2,500 resumes in the next couple weeks.
If one person gets each of those jobs, that’s a 0.4% acceptance rate.
Okay, take a minute to freak out, but then let’s refocus. Now you’ll know what I mean when I say that the primary, overwhelming purpose of your resume is to stand out from all the others. And that’s why I say that you should add a small photo of yourself up at the top.
That’s a surprisingly controversial statement because the traditional perspective, the one that wore a white collar to work and quoted Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross speech unironically in meetings, would tell you that adding your photo would set it apart from all the more “professionally formatted” competitors.
And I say, isn’t that the point?
Consider what management author Rob Ashgar explained to Forbes on this question:
“A few years ago, I had several top-tier companies and universities calling for interviews when I used a professionally designed resume that used the same tasteful headshot that my LinkedIn profile used. I’m no George Clooney, but I imagine some HR folks and hiring managers thought, ‘This looks like a pleasant enough fellow with a nice smile, and he has a good record—what the heck, let’s call him in.’ A few years later, I sent out many rounds of resumes without photos, and I heard not a peep. This is far from a scientific sample—but let’s be clear, it’s no less scientific than the advice from the no-photo crowd.”
Need help getting a photo? Put up a Facebook status asking for help, I promise that you know at least one friend trying to make a go of it as a photographer. Or, it’s cheaper than ever to hire a pro today.
5. Start tweeting (Even temporarily)
Story time! In my first job, I interviewed a great candidate for an open position that desperately needed filling. The interview went great, and our team recommended that they be hired pronto. But the hiring manager came back with a veto after looking at the candidate’s Facebook profile and finding some racy pictures from a recent party. Oops.
Was that an overreaction? Probably. Is it a little creepy? Yes. But let me tell you that I immediately purged any photo or tweet on the internet that implied I wasn’t a choir boy.
The point here is that hiring managers will look at your social media. So you might as well make it work for you.
By that, I mean that you can do much more than just delete some poorly conceived college snapshots. It’s now common practice to include personal branding details like your social media handle on your resume. Like a salesperson with a great network, employers salivate over “thought leaders” and “influencers”, and while you might not be able to turn yourself into the new Logan Paul in the next two weeks, you can at least tweet a couple of times a day to make it look like you’re more active than you actually are.
After a little massaging of your online persona, add your preferred social media handle to your resume. It makes you look like someone who focuses on their career even after they’ve clocked out.
6. Get a personal website (Not for the reason you think)
“Everyone should have a personal website,” he said, surprising nobody who was born after 1965.
But apparently, no one is listening. Despite the fact that 56% of hiring managers are more impressed by a personal website than anything else, only 7% of job seekers actually have one.
See the mismatch?
People I’ve talked to normally stall out in the planning phase - what would they even put on a personal website if they had one? And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter. Fill it with your favorite recipes. Or your celebrity couple conspiracy theories (I’m definitely an Ariana Grande/Pete Davidson truther).
The piece that you should care about is adding the website URL to your resume and, possibly more important, a personalized email domain. Instead of Jimmybob89@gmail.com, the top of your resume can direct hiring managers to send any messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many career advisors like Melyssa Griffin point out that a custom email domain is more memorable, makes you look like a self-starter, and is easy to set up with a personal website and a gmail account.
Now that you have a resume that’s stacked to the gills with proof that you are an exceedingly employable individual, it’s time to make sure it’s formatted in the best possible way. Fortunately, you can find a ton of great, easy-to-use resume tools right here on Resume.io! You can also organize your job hunt by position and build beautiful cover letters. Check it out today, and happy job hunting.