Dear Sam: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and am stuck in a retail position. Everyone asks for experience! I would like to gain the marketing experience that I need, but someone has to hire me for that to happen. I can market anything except myself. – Pat

Dear Pat: I’m sorry to hear you are struggling to get your foot in the door. The good news, however, is that after reviewing your resume, I can see that you haven’t had a tool that will open doors, so it is still entirely possible you could break into the field if you revamp your resume. As a creative, you need to use your resume to showcase your knowledge of marketing. Put your design skills to use by creating a resume that showcases your eye for design, and translates—to the marketing world—what you have done in a retail setting.

If I was a hiring manager looking for a marketing candidate, I would immediately be turned off by the unrelated content on your resume. I would be looking for how your retail experience positions you to understand my needs. Instead of going through administrative functions, talk about assessing customers’ needs, identifying creative solutions, helping design end products, and building relationships that generate repeat business. When you focus on the transferable aspects of your background, you will better engage the reader and prompt a positive response.

You also listed all of your undergraduate coursework on page two of your resume. Instead, you should pull out the marketing-related studies and place them on page one of your resume as there is no way the reader will get to the bottom of page two during a screening process.

I really think by taking another look at your content and making sure the majority of information presented has some transferability to a marketing setting—and by revamping the design of your resume to brand your candidacy—you will have a great chance of getting your start in the marketing field.

Dear Sam: I am writing to ask how to develop a resume when you have a limited professional background and a large gap of no employment due to raising a family. I worked in administration from 1995-2000 and then started a family. During this time I did run the financial and marketing aspects of my husband’s small gardening business. I also held several temporary holiday positions in retail, however, for nearly 15 years I was raising my children. Three years ago I started my own small business alongside a part-time marketing position. Then two years ago I began a full-time degree program, which I have just completed. I have no idea how to put all of this together on a resume…HELP! — Alice

Dear Alice: Congratulations on your recent graduation! I am sure this is both an exciting time and one also filled with trepidation. The key to presenting one’s candidacy on paper is to paint a competitive picture. Given you only had five years of work experience prior to staying at home, at this juncture in your career you would likely be seen as a more junior level candidate fitting into the three-to-five years of experience bracket. Because of this, you can focus your resume on the past few years of your experience managing the administrative functions of your husband’s and your own business in addition to your part-time marketing position. You can also do something called bylining your early administrative experience. To do this, write your professional experience section containing your recent experience, and at the end of that section make a note (without dates) as to your early experience. I might suggest something like: “Foundational experience in the administrative and office management arena as an Executive Assistant with ABC Company.” Of course, write this statement with the facts of your background. After this note, you can even go on to list select aspects of that role which support your current career targets. The point of taking this approach is to allow you to include what might be relevant experience without the context of when it occurred in order to avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy. When you do this and focus on your most recent experience and education, you will emerge a competitive junior-level candidate on paper and should have no problem securing the interviews you want.