Make your unrelated work experience rock not kill your job search



Getting your first job ain’t easy. Ever seen these job descriptions before?


Entry level administrative role
1. Minimum industry experience: 2 years in a similar role.
2. Must have XXX system knowledge.
Certificate in XXX admin level.


Internship accounting role
Minimum 2 years in a related field.

Most resumes for millennials and younger generations look like a mash-up of random jobs. Myself included if you look back on your work experiences it shouts more ‘no career planning’ rather than ‘experienced professional’.

And it’s no wonder. Casual or gig work is the norm for students and those too young to qualify for other contract work. It fits with your schedule and it’s low-risk and still, it’s cool for now. You think to yourself, ‘everything will be fine once I graduate. My career will sort itself out’.

But it doesn’t. Increasingly, intern and entry-level roles are slapping on at least a few years experience as core requirements.

If you were like me, your work experience would look disjointed and directionless. Despite the randomness of it all, I’ve built key skills and experiences and made amazing relationships which all still benefit me today.

Don’t be disheartened if your experiences aren’t pristine to a recruiter’s eye. I feel your pain, but it’s actually not all bad. Despite what job requirements state, employers are really looking for these core things: you have what it takes to do the job, a real passion for the role, and a desire to work for them.

You need to make your work and life experiences work for you. Recall instances at your past jobs where you had to make things work with the little that was provided. This is the same case: you need to shape a story of how your experiences led you to who you are now, and why it makes you a great fit, using what work experience you have.

Below are the basics of how to patch up your resume to make your experiences shine for your ideal role.


Relevance is still king

Think of who is reading your resume. It’s someone that has probably gone through dozens already. Don’t make them work to find out key pieces of information. You need to keep basic resume formatting: important information at the front, followed by less important items towards the back.

Your experiences need a similar game plan. You simply can’t fit it all in, and neither should you. Showcase experiences that touch on the key responsibilities of the role you are targeting.

Say you are going for a digital marketing role that requires skills in handling metrics of social media reach, use of software and tools and experience in creating campaigns and content for launches/products.

Certainly mention the time when you helped your club at university market their club activities, where you used Facebook and Twitter combined with automation tools to plan your outreach ahead. Definitely mention how you helped create copy and content for the messaging of each share, and what sort of results you got plus any changes you made to optimize your social outreach.

But you won’t need to mention your brief stint as a barista.

You want to highlight any experiences that directly relate to what the job would actually entail. List it out and add details for the core competencies.

Head of social media for my softball University Club at XXX.

  • Managed club’s social media profiles and content on university website for clubs.
  • Planned and executed numerous social media campaigns highlighting training and university matches. In particular, I worked in conjunction with University Games organizers to campaign events across multiple profiles and university pages.
  • Working knowledge of automation and metric tools in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.
  • Experience in messaging and copy, as well as content creation in blog/article formats.

Format your experiences

‘Don’t add objective sections’

‘Add an executive overview’

There are plenty of rules surrounding resumes. It’s not a great idea to go against the grain of the basic rules of resumes, but you can craft your own story by letting employers see what you want.

Try crafting your resume by skills or competencies. Keep it at the front and highlight specific skills and requirements that match the role you target. Following on before, make sure every bit is relevant and succinct. Make it dot point format, where you can have a skill followed by a short description of what you did.

  • Social media-Created social media posts about club events and games using Facebook, university news site, Instagram, blogs.
  • Social media tools-Used automation tools like Buffer to schedule posts, and used analytics to create best practices for reach and traffic.

Also be aware that going chronologically with your experiences and skills isn’t necessarily the best for you. Remember, you are using your resume to paint a specific picture. Focus on creating relationships with your skills and the role requirements to make sure they can see your experiences are a great fit in the core competencies of the roles you target.

You aren’t spinning a tale but illustrating how you can actually do what needs to be done.

Highlight the links in your experiences

Yes, the various casual roles you took may look disjointed. Your lawn mowing job, pizza delivery, and shop assistant role combined with your undergrad in international business might seem strange.

But like any role, certain skills seemed to pop up and interconnect. The people skills you learned. How to talk and help customers. How you learned to plan ahead to manage your workload. It’s the same in the classes you took.

Certain skills always crop up.

Seek to see what core skills are common in all the roles you’ve had. If you find trouble, ask a friend or someone you respect to review your experiences. We naturally tend to seek something familiar or connect with previous experiences. You simply need to draw that out in your resume.


In closing: It’s your story

Perhaps your experiences are so varied because you were finding out what you liked. Or you were simply trying to get a feel of things.

There is one thing you must do to get the job you want. You must tell your story well so that the role you are targeting now makes sense. The job you are wanting has to look like the next logical step.

You have to push across a story where your previous experiences, though seemingly disjointed, have led you to this path, to seek this role. It could be from trial and error, where you gain insight into what works for you. Regardless, you need to think and practice telling your story this way in your interview and in everything you show to companies.


Despite everything said and done, industry specific experience is still valued above all. You may be weeks to graduation, or still slumming it on job boards, and find that you aren’t getting results.

That’s because if your resume is compared to another with industry experience, industry experience trumps everything. It’s a no-brainer.

How do you get industry experience then, when most companies require it in the first place?

I have a simple list of questions for you that you can download by clicking here.

It’s about shedding light on what you can do, once you start to let go of certain assumptions and fears you have.
What I hope you get out of the questions is this: there are many ways to approach your job search, once you get creative.

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