Berkeley Community Design Team

Alma Miller Coaching at Berkeley Adult School <em>Peer-to-peer instruction at Berkeley Adult School</em>

More and more jobs are advertised online and computers are screening the resumes. Creating a resume that gets read and noticed is hard for anyone and can be especially challenging for adult literacy students. Research by the U.S. Department of Education indicates that nearly 25 percent of adults in California struggle with basic literacy skills. For these adults, searching for a job can be especially discouraging.

A team of adult students at Berkeley READS decided to dig into this situation and see how they could help fellow students. They developed The New Resume Project. They lead workshops for adult literacy students and other community members who are job seeking or getting their thoughts together about their career.

Tutor/student pairs at Vallejo Library

One of the key insights of the project is helping adult students claim the value of their lived experience, i.e., their “life certificates.” This is the source of the resilience, grit and maturity many employers seek but do not know how to put into job descriptions. The New Resume Project has a step-by-step workbook that combines best practices for job seekers with the kind of peer-to-peer encouragement that makes a difference. Initially piloted at Berkeley READS and the Berkeley Adult School, the workshop was well received at public libraries in Oakland, Fairfield, and Vallejo, as well as the Recovery Café in San Jose.

The New Resume Project works well as a two part series. The workshop’s peer-led dialogue helps adult students appreciate more of the skills, abilities and experiences they have that they can share with prospective employers. In the second half, students move to the computer lab where they put that content into a resume template. Contact us at if you are interested in the workshop materials. You can download the full workbook HERE.

As adult student and workshop leader Ray Jackson says: “Don’t cheat yourself. Treat yourself to a good resume.”

Staff and Student Leaders at the Vallejo Public Library