Social Question

Sarcasm's avatar

What does someone like me even put on a résumé? How do I get recognized?

Asked by Sarcasm (16758points) September 27th, 2010

I’ve been slowly admitting to myself how badly I need a job. Today certainly sped that up.

In 9th grade, I remember taking a class and being taught about how to create a résumé. I remember that it’s important to put references, past jobs, education, extracurricular activities, groups, sports, whatever. To prove that you actually, you know, do shit.

Well, I don’t really have any of that.
The high school from which I graduated got shut down (funding issues), and the teachers are scattered all about. The only one I even know how to get into contact with is living in Spain.
I’ve been going to community college for 3 years and have no degree or certificate. I don’t even have a great GPA (at least, given that I’ve been doing absolutely nothing else). There’s no real teacher there I’ve had a connection with.
I’ve never had a job before, nor even been a volunteer worker.
The only organization I’ve belonged to was the Boy Scouts for about 3 months, when I was 11 or 12. I’ve never been part of a sports team, or any school group.
So because of all that, and the fact that I’m terrible at coming into contact with people and making relationships, I don’t have any references to give.

And on top of all of that, the job market isn’t in great condition. Or so I’m told.

I can compliment myself up and down the résumé but I know that won’t do anything, I know they want other people to do that.

So what does someone like me put on one, to get noticed? To not have it land directly in the trash can? To actually get a job opportunity?

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23 Answers

daytonamisticrip's avatar

You could start volunteering. It’s never to late to start!

SuperMouse's avatar

What kind of job are you planning to go for? Depending on that you might not even need a resume.

To write a resume start with a personal statement explaining who you are and some of your unique skills. If you are proficient in several computer programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc) you could have an area where you list skills. This area could also include your typing speed, ten key by touch, making change, etc. Then you can list your education, the name of the college, your major, and your projected graduation date. You can also list the high school and the year you graduated. If you took any classes that gave taught skills that might give you a leg up, list those.

@daytonamisticrip makes a good point about you volunteering somewhere so you could gain some experience. You also might want to pop by the career center at your college for help putting the resume together, learning about volunteer opportunities, or getting the heads up on jobs in the area or even on campus.

marinelife's avatar

You can use an old friend as a personal reference.

You can use a family friend of your parents who has known you for many years.

You can use an in-law with a different last name.

Were you on a sports team? mention that. Better yet, were you a team manager or equipment manager or other behind-the-scenes help?

Did you belong to nay clubs in high school? national Honor Society?

@SuperMouse has very good points regarding listing your computer skills and getting resume help at the career center at your college.

augustlan's avatar

Don’t forget, you do have a volunteer job… definitely list your Fluther moderator status. I can help you word it, if you like. I’ll also give you a reference. :)

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Sarcasm's avatar

I know that getting a volunteer gig would be a good way to go, and if I could tell 17— (or 18—, 19—, 20—)year-old me one thing, that would be it.
But I’m at the point now where I lack any breathing room financially. My support from my parents is pretty much entirely spent on school, housing and food luckily at least I’ve got parents who can support me that much. And today, I realized that it’ll be very hard for me to trust my car again. On top of any other hobby desires, I now have a need to be able to afford something I can actually feel safe in while driving to/from school (and work! potentially…)

@marinelife I’ve never taken part in extracurricular activities like sports or school clubs/orgs, in high school or college. and my college, being a community college, has a very small pool of clubs to belong to. None of which are anywhere near being up my alley. That’s what I get for being a non-religious White guy, 13 of the 27 clubs are automatically locked out for me.

@SuperMouse Well, aside from retail jobs, I’m pretty much unaware of what jobs are out there for unskilled/uneducated people.
So from the pool of retail stores, working at a Best Buy or Circuit City or Fry’s (One of those is actually within 3 miles of where I’m moving) seems to make the most sense, having products about which I have some knowledge and interest. But a problem I can predict with working retail is that I don’t have a salesman personality, I’m not nearly assertive enough with people to trick them into buying a second dishwasher.

@augustlan (and also to @SuperMouse, she PMed me the same basic idea) That would be amazing, and I’ll be sure to do that. But with something like that, it seems hard to put on a resume for volunteer work, there aren’t really any specific hours or anything to keep track of how much work I’ve actually gotten done. Or perhaps I’m totally overthinking that as usual.

I’m fairly sure my college has a career center, but I don’t know anything about it. I should try investigating.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Bypass the paperwork, try to get in contact face to face with the person who is in charge of deciding who to employ. do whatever it takes to get in an interview situation with them. then say something along the lines of “look, im a hard worker, i show up on time, im not here to make friends or waste time hiding in the toilet, i do what im told, how im told, when im told, and ill give you a fair days work for a fair days pay – ill tell you what, ill come in tomorrow and work all day for free, if at the end of the day you dont like what you see you can tell me to get lost, and i will, and you would have lost nothing. how does that sound?” Chances are it will get your foot in the door.

Austinlad's avatar

Many employers might more interested in what you can do for them rather than what you’ve done. Consider drafting a resume that focuses on the things you like to do and are good at—and how you think those interests and skills could be of value to an employer. Don’t lock yourself in a negative frame of mind thinking your resume has to be “as good as” or “just like” someone else’s; write a resume that expresses who you are, what you can do, why you think you could be an asset. Incorporate some of the suggestions above—like references from friends, relatives, etc.—and voila, you might wind up with a resume that attracts more attention than a “traditional” one.

jrpowell's avatar

Are you OK with lying? If you want you could have been my administrative assistant for the last three years. If you get my drift.

wundayatta's avatar

Do you care about the job, or do you just want to make money? If you want money, you should go for a factory job. If you want something in a particular field, then you should let us know. If you just want spending money, then you could work at a fast food joint or a hotel or any kind of service job.

jrpowell's avatar

@wundayatta :: I tried to get a job in factory and hotels. I had a good resume and I didn’t get hired. Even shitty jobs are hard to find. I applied at a dry cleaners. There was four other people filling out a application while I was.

Haleth's avatar

You could make a functional resume that lists your skills if you don’t have work experience. It might also help if you look for jobs on campus. My campus had openings for information desk, cafeteria workers, computer lab monitors, tutors, and probably other jobs that I didn’t know about. They always go to students, so it doesn’t matter as much if you don’t have work experience. Even if you haven’t built relationships with your professors, you can always ask if they’re willing to be a job reference or know of any jobs.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

I’m mostly clueless about the resume thing (mine sucks), but Iearned from a business writing class that you can put you’re in school, and also list some stand-out classes you’ve taken. There are certain classes employers like to see, even if they’re not from your major or minor. On my resume from the business writing class, I think I put that I had taken Ethics, Advanced Fiction Writing, and Public Speaking. Also, business writing.

As far as jobs for unskilled or uneducated (or educated, but with crap for resume) people, retail is not your only option. There’s food service, which includes waiting tables, dish washing, and cooking. Although it can be hard to get a cook job with no experience. You can also get a cleaning or other janitorial job. Or a security job, which is what I’m doing now. I like it a lot better than waiting tables or working at a store.

judochop's avatar

Rub the interviewer on the leg and hand them a picture of yourself naked. Then wink and do the shooter McGavin thing with a toothpick in your mouth.
Really though. What we talked about in chat.

deni's avatar

Honestly I think the easiest thing to do to get started is to volunteer somewhere. Like at an old folks home or animal shelter or something….that could get you in maybe. Or just accept that you’ll at first have to have a job that you probably won’t love, like at a restaurant. That’s where most people start….it’s just basic skills and it’s at least something to put on a resume.

Sarcasm's avatar

Wow. I’ve been composing an answer for many hours. I’d been contacted by some individual jellies, and it’s been the topic in the chatroom for quite a while. I feel bad for starting some answers and leaving everyone hanging on the edge of their seats (You all want to watch this story unfold, right?)

@poisonedantidote The problem with that is, it’s not like I’ve been working in X retail store for 2 years, got laid off, and now want to work at Y retail store. I have no experience working any job, no experience being a salesman, and certainly don’t have abundant knowledge of any specific store. So even if that does make them say “Okay, I’ll give you a chance,” I don’t think my performance will impress them at all.

@Austinlad I’ll do my best to fill in skills and interests and avoid a negative mindset. But I’m not really creative or inventive. Aw shoot. I ventured into a negative mindset already. But really, it’s always been hard for me to invent things, even for school projects. I’ve always done much better if I’ve seen someone else’s example and been able to work off of that.

@wundayatta I care a little bit about the job. I don’t want to work somewhere that makes me exponentially more depressed every single day. I have a few friends who’ve done that and I hate seeing the toll it takes. But I don’t expect my first job to be a long-term thing or a career. I get enough financial support to pay for rent, college, food, and some entertainment. I’m looking mostly to add to that so I can eventually drive a car I feel safe in, and have more money to spend on myself (In addition to that, I would like to be able to start putting some things on my resume).
I’ve never felt solid in a specific career, or major, but I am studying within the computer field in college now and I expect my career (whatever it may be) to be within that field as well. An electronics store (Best Buy, Fry’s, something like that) would be more ideal than working at a McDonalds or even a Target (though I guess even then, they have a computer/gaming/TV section), in that it would keep me slightly more interested, and also it would be (relatively) more relevant to a career with computers. I’m really unaware of what jobs actually are out there though. Or what is and isn’t within my reach.

@Haleth I’ll have to find some way to check out jobs available through my school. But their website has no real listing of jobs. There’s a “Career center” section of the site, but that’s all about.. well, careers. Finding out about what you want to do for your future, not about a job for “right now”.
For teacher references though. I have rather good attendance, and behave in class, but I’ve never made a name for myself, or really made myself recognized. So I just think it weird to expect a teacher to be willing to vouch for me and say that I’m a good worker or have good character.

@all
In chats with other Jellies elsewhere (and some of you here), they were asking me about my career choices. I didn’t really get it, I’m looking for a job not a career. But as the conversations progressed, I saw the relevance. So I’ll expand.
I’ve never felt a calling to any specific career. I’ve basically just spent my entire life on the computer and playing computer games. I learned in college that I don’t love programming, or art. I do love computers, I do love languages.
If I look at the degrees/certs in the computer-related field offered by my college (I know, it’s not representative of what jobs out there exist. But just for an idea), the thing that stands out the most to me is Network administration.
So: Computers, Network administration, Games, Languages. Excluding programming skills and artistic skills.

I don’t know completely what they may include for responsibilities, or what kind of knowledge will be required. But given those 6 things, there are 2 careers I can think “I may enjoy that”.
1) Running a PC/gaming/internet cafe. That would certainly fit the first 3 of those things. But I don’t have a “salesman spirit”, nor am I entrepreneurial, and those seem like 2 qualities that would be important. Also, I know that they’re dying out as internet becomes more steadily available, and as laptops turn into legitimate gaming PCs. There was a gaming cafe not too far from where I used to live that shut down because it just couldn’t survive in a suburban area, not enough customers.
2) Considering just games and languages, working for a game publisher/developer also sounds like it may be awesome. Working as communication between branches in different countries. Or working on translation team. Or just being multi-lingual community help. I would certainly need to start up more serious study on languages if I was to go down that road.

So those are 2 paths that stick out to me. As I put that all in, I’m not entirely sure that’ll help with the job hunt now, but I guess we’ll see.
damn. This is much longer of a post than I hoped for.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

I’ll apologize now for I have no idea how long this could be. I’ll try my best to keep it short. First, my story. I too have never participated in any high school clubs/sports & other shit like that. I never had a job all through high school & into college. My resume by my freshman year in college was a blank 8.5” by 11” sheet of white paper with my name & number on it. I may have started going to school for pre-law, but I knew I was going to be dropping out to pursue writing. Knowing this, I tried to bulk up my resume with things that are relevant & reflective of the work I can do & what I am capable of. I told my professors what I was interested in doing & they told me about a literary journal that I could write for & about school wide poetry contests. I wrote for both & succeeded in both. When I left college, I told my parents what I wanted to do. I looked around online for jobs, all I found were jobs that were 3,000 miles away, required a ton of experience or was a scam. I narrowed my focus down to screenwriting. It turned out that my father had a connection to a guy who knew a guy who was a writer/director. I got in touch with him. I shared with him the things I had written in college. As a practice run, I was sent a script & was told to just go nuts & wow him with whatever I was capable of. I sent it back & within a day I got a phone call saying that I was now his full time script editor & co-writer. Since then, I have continued to work for him. I have helped complete 6 scripts/projects. My resume is now exploding with experience. As my resume continues to grow, those jobs I looked at in the beginning of job searching – I am now qualified. So this is me now. Gaining experience at a rate I never thought possible, with job opportunities opening up everywhere.

Read through my experience, take out what seeds of knowledge there is to be sowed, throw out the rest. Now on to you, mister. (that’s right, this is my stern voice) First things first…uninstall Starcraft when you are ready to hunker down. Yes, you can keep your save files.

Tell everyone you know about what type of work you are interested in doing. Tell them to spread the word to their friends. It’s a small world. You will eventually have a connection to someone who is doing what you want to do. (For years, my father had this connection to a writer/director. I had no idea, because I never spoke up).

You remember that game cafe I showed you, check it out on your day off. I don’t give a shit if you have to hitchhike, just get there. When you get there – ask a million questions. When you run out of questions, sit & wait until you think of more. Play Starcraft while you wait & think. Tell them you are interested in working for them & that if they don’t have a job opening now, to contact you first when one does open.

Look online for dream jobs. Check out the requirements for those jobs & slowly fulfill each one of them. Print out that list & show it to your college professors. Ask, what can you do here at college to prepare yourself for this.

Just because you aren’t qualified for a job, doesn’t mean you can’t inquire about the position. Nothing is stopping you from contacting computer & gaming giants, like Valve, Intel, etc. & just ask about the jobs you are interested in & what is demanded of the people who do those jobs. They have email, so you can still be your shy little self & not have to talk to people on the phone.

My point of view on work, is that if it doesn’t relate to anything you are interested in & benefit you in the long run, you are wasting your time. You can start at the bottom, but start at the bottom of something that, when you look up, you see your dream job.

I think what is making this so hard, is that you are just now opening your eyes to the idea of a job. So everything is going to seem foggy & hard to navigate. You’ll see that, the longer you keep your eyes open & the more you search the mess, the easier it gets. It just seems overwhelming now because it feels like you are way behind & need to play catch up. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to everyone else. Just because you were late to the game, doesn’t mean you need to be punished with a shitty job.

If you are doing what you love, the job will be challenging, not difficult.

Don’t go looking for a career. Look for a job that will slowly evolve into the career. Find that lower level job & build upon it. Think of that game Katamari. Find that little peanut sized job & roll it around. Collecting & picking up experience & other odd jobs that are related. Build up that ball until it becomes a towering, massive ball of your achievements & employment. Soon, that ball will be able to knock down all those doors of opportunity.

Remember, we all love you & want the best for you. Now gogetajobyoubum. ʘ‿ʘ

Brian1946's avatar

How about working for a utility like a phone or power company?

I went to a Pac Bell employment office, filled out an application, took a math test, and did an F2F interview.

I don’t remember even bothering with a resume, but perhaps their requirements have changed.

I was hired about a month later.
I know that might not happen for you now, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a foot in the door.

poisonedantidote's avatar

In that case, i would suggest you aim for a job that anyone can do. this does not mean it will be a crap low wage job, there are plenty of jobs that anyone can do but still pay well because of other factors. such as working at nights, or doing something not everyone wants to do. i remember in the UK, i had a job guarding a big printing machine as it run through the night. all i had to do, was push a big red emergency stop button if the machine looked like it was going wrong, then call the engineer to come fix it. i did this for about 2 months as a temp, it was real boring, but the pay was good.

what area do you live in? maybe i can take a look on the internet and find a company or two for you to target.

the other option is to just lie to them. say you dont have anythiny references because for the past 5 years you have been working in a rural part of Australia or something like that.

wundayatta's avatar

@rpmpseudonym has given you the best answer of any you’re likely to get. Networking is crucial. Find out what’s out there and talk to them to find out what kind of work they do and ask everyone to give you two more names of people to talk to.

I wanted to say something about your resume and your attitude towards your experience. When I was a teenager, I pitched an idea to my father—I wanted to raise some cows for beef. It involved building a barn, fencing a field, running water to the field, buying cattle, turning a calf into a steer and more.

The barn building alone required general contracting skills. I needed to frame a floor, put in rebar, order the proper amount of cement, find wood to frame the barn and wood for siding. Roof the thing, too.

I did it all. I recruited labor. I organized the job. I raised two calves for a year and sent them off to the slaughterhouse (my sister refused to touch any of the beef).

This never appeared on my resume. I had no idea what I had done. To me it was just for fun, really. I never thought of it as skills that an employer might want. Now that seems criminal to me. If only someone could have told me that that showed initiative and entrepreneurship and organizing and management skills, who knows where I might be now? I’m sure I would have had a very different view about myself and my capabilities.

My point is that you have to look at your experience with a different point of view. You’ve been playing video games or something. That’s how they train soldiers. It shows good hand-eye coordination and decision-making skills. I don’t know what else you’ve done in your life, but you could look at it differently, and it might help you find the job you want.

Sarcasm's avatar

@wundayatta Yeah, @rpmpseudonym and I had been chatting a lot last night we’re fairly sure he’s me from the future.
And with your anecdote I’m now thinking about other forms of experience no success yet, but the wheels are turning. I still feel like, although computer games certainly do teach skills, non-gamers will look at them and think “You just stare at a screen all day, that can’t teach anything?” Maybe I should spend some time thinking of justifications.

augustlan's avatar

@Sarcasm Chat me up late tonight on gmail… we’ll put our heads together and come up with something.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

You could put on your resume that your a moderator for fluther.

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