Alchemize with Lauren

Where’s the beef/side dish?

Ah, nostalgia. Remember your very first resume?  You described your recent education, a couple of summer jobs, maybe a part time or after school job or two, and that was pretty much the extent of it. But there were likely a couple of other sections that helped round out the resume. One of these was perhaps labeled “Activities”; the other was “Hobbies”.

Under “Activities” (usually within the education section) you could showcase that you were a member of the Drama Club, photographer for the yearbook, sports writer for the school newspaper, and held the position of treasurer of the Biology Club for two semesters. Not only that, maybe you won an intercollegiate marathon, were active in your fraternity, made the dean’s list, and that you spent a semester as an exchange student or received a scholarship from writing a winning essay on the topic “Are Computers Just a Passing Fad?”

“Hobbies” provided you with the opportunity to enhance your resume with interests when you didn’t have a great deal of work history, with the hope that these might become icebreakers during an interview. Playing tennis and enjoying theater didn’t often mean a lot, but international travel, working with underprivileged children or teaching crafts could substantially round out a seemingly “short” resume.

To get an interview or a first job required just getting something, anything onto that piece of paper and get them out into the business world in full force. Right out of school, kids felt that they “needed more” to compete. They weren’t expected to have all kinds of experience, let alone experience “in their field”. So, often they were urged by parents and older siblings to join something anything so that they could get it “on their resume”. Whether it applied to their future plans, or was even something they enjoyed was irrelevant. Just beef up the resume and you’ll get the interview.

Okay, fast forward. Ten, fifteen, twenty years later. The “activities” are certainly outdated. The hobbies are insignificant. So how can you “beef up” the resume when there’s not a lot of beef? (Or, for vegetarians, you might feel the need to “tofu up” your resume. Even if you have a substantial Work or Professional section there may be a reason to round out the skills to include some other experience to enhance your flexibility or marketability to prospective employers.

Good news! It’s not too late. Depending upon your interests, goals and current state of your resume, there are many ways to add or create new depth and dimension to open doors. Join neighborhood or civic associations and try to get involved at an organizational or leadership level. Take courses at the community college to stay current in essential and relevant skills in your chosen field. Volunteer at a museum or fundraising event. Check out professional organizations in fields that interest you. Go to their meetings, seminars and conferences. And, before you know it, you have proactively enhanced your resume and shown insight and leadership skills, created affiliations networking opportunities, and have gotten likely involved and exposed to some new and interesting causes. You never know where these might lead you!

Lauren Castle is the owner of Impress Express, a professional image firm, focusing on career development, resume preparation, presentation skills, etiquette and interview coaching. We are members of the Professional Association of Resume Writers. For help with your image, posting your resume, or preparing your internet-friendly resume, contact Lauren directly at 858-459-7400. And, as always, please forward your image and career-related questions to for further information.