You Got To Start Somewhere

Over the past couple weeks, I have the opportunity to work with some local youth in developing their resumes and cover letters, to apply for their first jobs. As a human resources professional, with many years hiring employees of various experiences, I thought this would be a straightforward job.

After holding group sessions and workshops to develop their brainstorming and initial resume, I started working with these students one on one. As expected these youth had little to no experience at this point of their lives, but they did have the mentality that they needed to make money.

One youth came to me with a resume that listed his Instagram profile name, Snapchat handle, and an email address that went something like; (and no I’m not making that up!). The body of his resume only listed his high school under education and under of job experience he said “NONE”. When I started chatting with him I asked him what his career goals work he said he “was hoping to get a starting position $20 an hour, and work one to two days after school but not too late and never on the weekends”.


I had to do whatever I could not to laugh at the seriousness in his tone and his straight face while he continued to explain to me that plans to buy a motorcycle with his first pay cheque. I had to give it to him, this kid had hopes and dreams. They may be missing some pieces but he knew that to get his motorcycle he needed a money, and to make money he needed a job. Now we needed to look at everything between.

I sat with him and went back to our brainstorming session where we put a dream in the middle of the page. To some this dream may be to be a doctor, to some it was to own a house, to other it may have been to travel and see the world. To this boy, his word was “MOTORCYLE” without any hesitation. We talked about why this word deserved the middle of the page and he shared with me while growing up his older cousin had a motorbike and he was always working on it, shining it up, or taking it for a spin whenever he came over. Ever since he was young, he spent hours helping his cousin tinker with engines, throttles, and the fine cosmetics of the perfect machine.  He seemed to lighten up and get excited when he talked about motorcycles so that’s where we started with as we worked to build his resume.

I know it might seem weird to think of a goal or a dream while building your resume, but it’s a way to lay out all your skills, education, experiences, and attributes while looking at the areas that you may need to improve. While we talked, I learnt that this boy had actually volunteered at a couple motorcycle shows with his cousin over the past couple years. He even helped at an auto wreckers one summer while spending time with his cousin. All this detailed experience that he didn’t think “counted”, but communicated to future employers that he was familiar around motorcycles and mechanics. We also pulled from his experience his ability to take direction, follow instructions, and keep an organized work space. All skills that he never realized he had until we went back to the beginning and started digging up some answers.

We met a couple more times, and before you knew it this boy had a full page resume fit for entry level employment in a field that he was interested in pursuing. He not only felt more confident in himself, but he found his drive to get out in the workforce and start gaining some real work experience so that soon enough he would be making “real” money.

And yes, we changed up his email address to something a little more appropriate. If you or your youth need to get your resume in tip top shape, #wehaveaVA4that.

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