Question: I’ve been an actress in adult films for the last five years. It has been my primary income while I’ve been in college. I’m about to graduate and I’ve been applying for entry level chemistry technician jobs. I am not ashamed of my work, but I’m not sure how to include this on my resume or if I even have to include it. But I don’t want it to look like I have no work experience. I put myself through school and was basically working a full time job while being a full time student. I don’t have the typical “campus” jobs to list on my resume either. What should I do? ~ Meira, Florida
Answer: This is an important question! The basic rule of thumb for writing a resume is to only include experience that is related and relevant to the positions to which you are now applying. Although the chronological resume format, (one that lists your related work experience in reverse chronological order), is most popular, it is not always the most effective for every job seeker. Especially for college students, recent college graduates, and people who are changing career fields, who have limited related work experience, a combination format resume, (which is based on skill set), may make the most sense – at least until you have that first related job under your belt.
Consider using skill headings such as “Research,” “Laboratory,” or “Analytical.” Under one of these categories, you could list specific skills you have gained through your coursework and labs. (Here are some sample resume phrases.) Read the job descriptions to which you are applying very carefully. If they mention techniques, software or equipment that you would be using on the job, make sure you reference these on the resume – assuming that you have experience with them. The key here is to assure the hiring manager that you will be able to do the job they need you to do.
You might also include other skill sections such as “Communication” or “Organizational.” Under these headings, you would include accomplishment statements that might describe class presentations that you have given, written reports (lab or otherwise) you’ve prepared, and other related experiences. In sections such as these, you are letting the hiring manager know that, beyond the basics duties of the job, you have a breadth of skills that round you out as an employee.
Near the bottom of the resume, you can include a section called Work Experience or Experience. Here you could list, in reverse chronological order, your most recent employment. There is no need to include any descriptions of the jobs. It might look something like this:
Actress, ABC Studio, City ST 2008 – Present
This shows the hiring manager that you have been working for the past five years, but does not go into detail since this job is not related to the positions to which you are currently applying.
I would add, however, that you still need to be prepared to talk about this work experience in an interview. Practice bringing the conversation back to your relevant skills and experience.
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