Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Got Skills? Another Important Resume Builder!

New graduates and career changers often don’t have a lot of experience in the environmental field. I was thinking about this recently and remembered a section I used to have on my resume that now that I have a lot of experience, I have deleted. This is the “Skills” or “Special Qualifications” section. I still do create a Special Qualifications addendum for some jobs, particularly those that have a positive education requirement, to be sure that the Human Resources folks recognize my courses in the right categories, but I will save that for another post. In this post, I will focus on the kind of skills you might want to highlight for entry level jobs in the environmental field.

Computer Skills
Equipment or Techniques Used
Special Training or Certifications
Other Skills

Computer Skills are VERY important to share on your resume. Examples: Hardware (PC or MAC), Software (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, etc.), Operating Systems: Windows (7, XP, ME, 2000), UNIX or LINUX, Statistical Packages: NCSS, Minitab, SAS, SPS, R, MARK, and, of course, GIS: ArcGIS, ArcMap, ArcView, and ArcInfo.

Equipment or Techniques you have used or are familiar with are also important. You may have to volunteer to obtain these skills, but if you have them, they are worth their weight in gold! Examples: mist netting, bird banding, GPS (hand-held) Garmin or Trimble, orienteering-map or compass reading, surveying, conducting surveys of plants or animals, using spotting scopes, using Munsell Color Charts (soils), experience reading aerial photos or with remote sensing, reading topographical maps, removing invasive plants, using a botanical (or other) identification key (VERY useful skill!), trapping, conducting field inventory, taking water samples, using microscopes or other laboratory equipment, fish shocking, identification of trees, plants, fish, animals, amphibians, macroinvertebrates, bird calls, frog calls, etc. Remember to include skills you learned in your classes (using the soil chart, reading aerial photos and topographical maps, and identifying macroinvertebrates were all covered in APU/AMU undergrad courses)!

Special Training or Certifications may not refer to everyone, but here are some examples to consider: Orienteering training, CPR and First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Hunter Safety Course, Defensive Driving course, EMT, State Driver’s License (important for MANY jobs, so definitely list it), Wildland Fire Courses, NAUI or PADI SCUBA certification, FEMA Emergency Response courses (see my earlier blog on courses to complete), and any professional certifications or licenses you may hold.

Other Skills is a catch-all for some kinds of experience that may or may not be appropriate for the specific job you might be interested in, but are worth mentioning here: Outdoor skills (working in varying terrain and weather conditions, at high altitude, etc.), experience with ATVs, ORVs, OHVs, 4WD, Snowmobiles, etc., skill with chainsaws and power tools, farm machinery, fence building, working with horses, pack animals, etc., photography skill or experience, boating, kayaking, or snorkeling skill, swimming, skiing, backcountry hiking, etc., etc. DO use language that clarifies your skill level, i.e. “exposed to…”, “familiar with…” or “very experienced…”.

This isn’t a complete list of every skill you might have, but there’s plenty here to get you thinking! Jot a comment below the blog to share any other skills you have or think of so that others can benefit from your experience!

Best of luck to everyone!

Dr. Carol Pollio


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