10.23.2013

Back to Work Blog Series: Closing the Gap in Your Resume

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Welcome back to the Amy Mac Blog Series Back to Work: Everything You Need to Know to Get Back in Business — a playbook of strategies to dust off your skills, your resume and your moxie as you change careers, launch a business, or head from the mom force to the work force. Catch up on previous posts here.

In the last post, we developed a "Plan of Attack" for your return to the working world ... a set of questions and considerations that hopefully helped you determine your ideal work situation. With your set of ideals in hand, now it's time to start preparing for that dreaded task: updating your resume, perhaps for the first time in years.

Explaining a ten-year gap in a resume or building a client base as a freelancer is easier if you have amassed some relevant professional experience in the last 6 months. But how do you gain the experience you need to fill the gap in the resume?

Volunteer.

Ah, I could feel you cringing from here. “My time is too important to work for free!”

I feel your pain, but before you get those high-paying assignments or land the coveted corporate job, you must prove you are up to the task. And volunteering is a great way to do it.

Before I jumped back into the working world:                                                                          

I led the publicity efforts for the local Junior League’s efforts to promote its annual American Girl fundraiser.

I wrote several articles for high-profile websites (including one on building your resume to get back into the work force. Read it here.)

I led the publicity efforts for a political re-election campaign, including a fundraiser with U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

I wrote feature articles for an award-winning alumnae publication.

I handled publicity for the PTA, with great results (for the school. I think I got an eye twitch, but that’s another story.)

I did it all for free. Volunteering is a smart way to do some feel-good work while building your experience — no matter if you’re a writer, an accountant or a photographer. There are lots of non-profits and small businesses who could use a hand, so offer your expertise in exchange for a great reference, beef for your resume or as a way to expand your contacts.

Incidentally, in every instance I listed above, it either translated to a paying job or has given me an invaluable contact in building my business.

No matter your future plans, try volunteering — it sharpens skills you already have, builds skills you need, is a great social outlet, and best of all … it is incredibly rewarding to make a contribution to an organization that might not exist without the help of volunteers.

Looking for ideas on where to volunteer? Start with your local:

Junior League
PTA
Alumnae associations
Religious organizations
Small businesses
Non-Profits
Civic organizations
Neighborhood associations

Next up in the Back to Work series: Mastering the Buzz of your Biz.

Thanks for reading ~
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