The Non-Traditional Job Hunt: A Resume Makeover Case Study

Resume Makeover for Non-Traditional CandidatesThere is an abundance of resume advice and examples online. However, they’re mostly unhelpful if your work and life experience doesn’t fit neatly into a template.

Let’s look at a real job seeker with non-traditional work experience and outside the norm career issues, and see what happens when we do a resume makeover that takes into account their specific challenge:

Challenge No. 1: The Non-local

“I’m planning a move, but I’m not living in the area of my job search yet.”

Let’s start with the easiest challenge to tackle. Our candidate has specific plans to move to a new city and is actively house hunting there. Often employers are unenthusiastic about candidates with out-of-town addresses, because they don’t want to pay for employee relocation expenses or wait for a move that may never actually happen.

However, if you are actively in the process of moving (meaning you are in your new hometown often enough that commuting in for an interview isn’t a problem), put your future city and state on your resume and make sure to address any timing challenges later in the process. Treat it like you’re negotiating your start date for any other reason, such as current employment, or a preplanned vacation.

If your move is not yet in progress, you can indicate “relocating in [month] to [city, state]” on your resume to give employers a timeframe of when you will be available.

Challenge No. 2: The Undecided

“I don’t know what field to look in, and I don’t have any previous experience in an office environment.”

This challenge can seem daunting at first. After all, it’s difficult to search for a job if you don’t know what kind of job to look for. Based on our strategy of tackling the work experience portion of the resume first, you should now be able to list your skills and create a high-level statement about what key talents you can bring to a company.

After our candidate documented the steps she took to create a small home-based business, we discovered that she has skills in marketing, financial management, and customer service.

Armed with this knowledge, her next steps will be to search for jobs in these fields. After reading the job descriptions for jobs in the marketing, finance, and customer service industries, our candidate will then identify common job requirements for each, and select the field that most interests her.

Challenge #3: The Non-Experienced

“My experience doesn’t line up perfectly for any specific job.”

This is where a cover letter comes in. Debate exists on the value of a cover letter because many recruiters and hiring managers don’t read them. But if something needs to be clarified about your experience or why you’re applying for a job that isn’t immediately clear in your resume, a cover letter is a must.

If you decide to write a cover letter, use it to highlight relevant professional details about you that wouldn’t necessarily be found on a resume. You might decide to cite informal recognition from previous jobs, or identify transferable skills that are common across your past work experience. Just remember, a cover letter is not meant to duplicate your resume. It should have unique content that adds new information about your professional experience and skills.

Bonus Tip

Quantify your Accomplishments.

Whether you are well into your chosen career or still searching for that perfect industry, a resume with quantified accomplishments, rather than a laundry list of tasks you’ve performed, is essential. Here are some examples of how we transformed our candidate’s activity into measurable results:

Activity Performed Resume Statement
Posted announcements on social media to advertise products Used social media (Facebook, Pinterest) and word-of-mouth campaigns to increase company awareness and revenue by 40% in Year 1.
Created Etsy account to sell products online Created Etsy web presence to expand nationally and increase revenue by 35%.
Manned the cash register at a local restaurant As a cashier, was responsible for thousands of dollars daily.
Organized events for marketing company Acted as event manager for 78 events per year. Responsible for event set up and operations, supply budget, and promotional photos.

Creating a compelling resume is a challenge for most job seekers, but with some strategic thinking and dedicated focus, you can produce a powerful tool to open the doors to a satisfying new job.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired!


Simply Hired


SusanAbout the Author: Susan Martindill is the Director of Demand Generation for Simply Hired. Susan has over 15 years of experience in marketing strategy and channel marketing in several industries including technology, accounting, real estate, and non-profit.


Image courtesy of Thank you!



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