Didn’t Know I Had It In Me

Turn life experience into a career opportunity

Whoever said that you need to have a job in order to get another one didn’t realize the value of life experience. With so much concentration on credentials and paid work experience, some people feel left in the lurch. But even if you don’t have a sterling resume, you can still high-light your assets and return to the workplace as a valuable employee. The key is to identify those life experience skills that will transfer to today’s workplace, says Fern Lebo, president of Lebo Communications, a communications and training firm in Markham, Ontario. “Homemakers must not downplay that they work at home. Instead, highlight the time-management, problem-solving, interpersonal and organizational skills required daily,” adds Lebo, author of Your Outplacement Handbook: Redesigning Your Career (CRC Press, $19.95).

If you were a fund-raiser or a coordinator for a volunteer organization, or treasurer of your neighborhood block association, your resume should reflect the leadership, motivational, diplomatic, public-speaking and financial skills you’ve gained. “If you were the one writing the checks, research how your experience might translate into that of a budget manager or bookkeeper,” suggests Lebo. “Everything you’ve accomplished before today is preparation for a job you may have tomorrow.”

To unearth your hidden skills, ask yourself the following questions. Use your answers as the foundation of your resume and as responses to the most commonly asked interview questions.
What activities do I do for work (paid or unpaid)?

What activities do I do for leisure (focus on those with responsibility and teamwork requirements)?
What skills have I gained from my life experience?

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