Recent grads often assume that employers don’t care about their non-technical work experience. So as some recently noted on Dice Discussions, they omit miscellaneous part-time and summer jobs from their resumes. But any experience is better than none and employers don’t care how you acquire the required skills and competencies. The key is to relate summer gigs or volunteer work to the job you’re seeking and highlight your transferable skills in addition to the technical expertise and soft skills you acquired through student projects and internships.
For example, a Dice job posting for an entry-level developer asks for excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to work closely with the project team to ensure high quality and on-time deliverables. Waiting on customers requires great patience and communication skills and you could show your propensity for teamwork by mentioning a class project, committee role or describing how you partnered with classmates to coordinate a campus fundraiser or freshmen orientation.
A job description for an entry-level technical analyst seeks someone who has the poise, confidence and professional maturity to interface with senior-level executives. Perhaps you regularly talked with deans and professors or kibitzed with alums while serving as a campus host during homecoming or other events. If so, reference the required skills on your resume and cite your experience as the source.
Don’t assume that the reviewer will understand how your non-technical job duties or responsibilities created desirable competencies. Connect the dots for the reviewer by being very specific and providing a detailed explanation. For example, perhaps you’re so reliable and mature that your manager trusted you to open the store, order supplies or train new employees. Or maybe you were a dorm advisor because of your problem-solving abilities and leadership skills.
Above all, don’t discount your non-technical work experience. If you play your cards right even a fast food job can pay dividends when you look for an entry-level IT job.