Dear Sam: I have been searching for employment for almost three years. I previously worked in the healthcare field, but after years of being passed over for promotions, I decided to go to college and get a degree. Throughout my healthcare career, I was able to obtain many skills, but without a degree to back them up, it appeared my skills were meaningless. My dilemma is this: As I changed fields almost entirely (bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting and business administration), I feel I do not possess the relevant experience to obtain employment in that field.
Please take a look at my resume to see what I need to do to make it stand out to my target employment audience. – Sonja

Dear Sonja: The first question I would ask is: Are you passionate about entering the accounting field, or was that just the option you pursued as you were unable to acquire the promotion you wanted in the healthcare industry? The answer to that question would shape the positioning of your candidacy and direction of your resume. Perhaps you could leverage your education and experience to secure a place in the accounting, auditing, or compliance field within a healthcare setting? That may provide you with the level of involvement and employment you have been seeking, at the compensation level you desire.

Unfortunately, when you sent your resume for promotions within the healthcare field, the picture was not optimized. Given that is the case, the results you could have gleaned—in terms of interviews for positions of interest—really is not fully known as you had a lackluster tool representing your candidacy. I find this all too often with job seekers. They submit resume after resume and do not get the response they want and, instead of looking at the tool they are using, they point the finger at their qualifications and candidacy. They often think, “I must not be qualified for what I thought I was qualified to do, so I just need to apply for something different.” Unfortunately, this is not typically the best answer. Instead, candidates should take a lack of market interest as a sign of their lack of positioning and effectiveness in the presentation of their qualifications.

Based on your experience, and the many years you spent as a Chief Technician, I cannot imagine you were not qualified for the positions you were seeking. You were, however, focusing 100% on responsibilities on your resume. Your resume reads like a bulleted job description and does not explore how you added value during your 10+-year career in the healthcare field. Your resume is also very bottom-heavy, meaning your earlier experiences look like your most robust positions, never a good thing when hiring managers are most interested in what you have done recently. Through more attractive formatting, a combination of responsibilities and accomplishments, and a strong qualifications summary—to replace your outdated objective statement—I am confident you could have won some of the interviews you were seeking.

Going forward, as you are unable to show experience in the area of your education, I would suggest leveraging both the experience and education you possess to position your candidacy for a related opportunity within the healthcare arena. I would tap into your professional network and try to open doors to opportunities not on the “open” market, the key to overcoming your gap in employment and limited experience in one of the two domains. I know you can have a resume that opens those doors and stands out to your target market; you just have to be a little more strategic in shaping that message. Best of luck to you.