What Do I Put for an Employer on My Resume if it Was Just a Neighbor Who Hired Me?
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Whether you did some web development for a neighbor or just spent a summer babysitting her kids, the fact that you did work for someone you knew doesn't make the experience irrelevant. Taking the initiative to market your skills to neighbors shows drive and creativity. Whether you include such experiences on your resume depends on the kind of work you did and the kind of job you're looking for now.
You can't call your neighbor a company, so you need to find some other way to describe the professional relationship if you're going to include the experience on your resume. List all of your professional positions in reverse chronological order, including your neighborly experience. Where you would normally put the company's name, write the type of work you did instead. Position yourself as an independent service provider. For example, if you mowed and edged your neighbor's lawn, you could write "Independent Contractor, Lawn Care Services." Mention the clientele in the first bullet point of the job description. For example: "Provided weekly lawn mowing and maintenance services for a neighbor." If you did work for more than one person, replace neighbor with "neighborhood clients."
As Quintessential Careers writer Randall S. Hansen points out, the goal of your resume is to associate yourself to your resume goal. Your resume should prove that you have the skills to handle the job you're applying for. If you're applying for a customer service position, for example, your experience running a neighborhood babysitting business shows that you have people skills and the ability to promote yourself. Don't hesitate to include close-to-home experience if it showcases relevant skills for the employer. The career website Monster says that leaving off these seemingly minor positions can be a resume mistake if your work helped you develop soft skills like time management and work ethic. It's also wise to include these experiences if your work history has holes, since resume gaps are job hunt killers.
Leave it Out
Talking about your babysitting experience doesn't make much sense if you're applying for a software development position now. If you can't articulate how your neighborhood work experience links with your current career objective, leave it off. Alison Green, a HR professional and writer for U.S. News, says that people in their 20s and younger shouldn't have resumes more than one page long. If you're a bit older, a maximum of two pages is fine.
Make your job description as accomplishment driven as possible, quantifying your responsibilities whenever you can. If you did Internet Technology work for your neighbors, ask yourself how many computers you set up and for how long. If you only had one neighborhood client at the beginning, but expanded your reach to five clients over four months, include that statistic. Green suggests avoiding subjective self descriptions like "strong communicator." Provide the evidence and let recruiters come to their own conclusions. For example, "Developed a regular yard maintenance schedule through communication with my neighborhood customer," demonstrates that you have communication skills without explicitly saying so.
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A professional writer since 2006, Colleen Reinhart has held positions in technical writing and marketing. She also writes lifestyle, health and business articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto.