O*NET Helps You Find Key Words for Your Resume

“This easy-to-use resource gives (people) the right words to describe their knowledge and experience.”

In recent years, O*NET has become one of my favorite job search skills tools. It’s provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, free and available online 24/7, at www.onetonline.org. While O*NET is also useful for discovering salary ranges and projected job growth of an occupation in any given area of the country, this has become my quick and easy first place to go for descriptive skill phrases for any profession to put in a resume.

The choice of exploration options when you enter the site can be intimidating. Ignore all that and just go to the Occupation Quick Search box in the upper right hand corner and type in a job title or word from the job or work experience you have, and it will bring up a list of careers are a likely fit. If I type in the word “garden”, I am shown a list that includes nursery workers and landscapers. Then I can select one or more of those suggested occupations. At the top of the occupation page you’ve selected, there are possible job titles that are both beneficial for an online job search and, perhaps, a better descriptive title for a job than the actual title an employer assigned, i.e. Grower, Greenhouse Worker, Plant Production Worker, Field Hand, Garden Center Employee, Harvester, Nursery Harvester, etc.

The true gold of an O*NET occupation page is the next section, a list of tasks, complete with active verbs, compiled from surveys of people actually in the occupation that help veteran workers to newbies describe what they’ve done and the skills they’ve acquired, such as “Plant, spray, weed, fertilize, and water plants, shrubs, and trees, using hand tools and gardening tools.” and “Feel plants’ leaves and note their coloring to detect the presence of insects or disease.” I will literally copy and paste the task section into a resume, make corrections to font and spacing, and then have the client edit these skills into a concise description of what they know how to do, reminding them of the precise terminology used in that career. This gives us a great, basic resume to refine and customize to address each job posting, making sure skills listed in the qualifications or duties in the posting that a job seeker has are also added.

Most people find it very hard to sum up what they’ve done in a few, effective sentences. People of all ages and skill levels are excited to find this easy-to-use resource gives them the right words to describe their knowledge and experience, which they can then customize to fit themselves. A well done, personalized resume that reminds the job seeker how much he or she actually knows is a great ego boost and even gives job seekers language to use in their networking and interviews. An O*NET Occupation’s tasks list both saves time and empowers a job seeker, when they realize how many of the important skills of a profession they actually know, and a confident job seeker, who can describe what they’ve done is well on their way to getting their next job.

Originally published at SantaFe.com on May 8, 2014