Brenda came to me with some major concerns about the résumé she had developed, stating, “I’m just a little ‘lost’ in the ‘employment whirlpool’ of today’s market. As mentioned, my résumé does not reflect my many years of management experience, in addition to other past employment. I was advised by many to keep my résumé as brief as possible, meaning no more than two pages. In addition, the majority of my past management employment consisted of retail positions—quite dated at the infancy of my career—so I am not sure how to highlight my management experience without dating myself. Help!”
Lost in the market
Brenda’s original résumé did nothing to position her candidacy how she wanted it to be seen. Instead, she had created an antiquated presentation of her experience and education. Her résumé opened with an education section presenting her graduate degree in psychology, doing nothing but pigeonholing her into the therapist roles similar to what she had held in recent years. Brenda’s career history section included her own business providing house and pet sitting services, three roles in the mental health counseling arena, and her foundational experience in retail management. All positions were listed without any dates, no accomplishments highlighted, and no formatting differentiation.
Painting a strategic picture
I explained to Brenda that omitting all dates was never a good idea as that often creates an assumption far worse than reality. After we reviewed the dates of her experience, I could see a clear picture of why she was challenged in developing a solid picture of her candidacy. Brenda felt that her pre-1994 experience was really what was qualifying her for another management role, and she did not know how to pull that experience forward without aging her candidacy. In reality however, all of her experiences could contribute to painting an effective picture of her candidacy.
Exploring the transferability of experience
After spending time with Brenda digging deep into each of her roles, talking about the management aspects of her career, and delving into the value of her recent eight years as a business owner, Brenda could see she had not included a lot of relevant and transferable information on her résumé. Realizing that her pre-1994 experience would be slightly discounted based on the 20+-year-old status—not to mention it took place in a retail setting when now she wanted to gain entry into a corporate environment–we needed to ensure her management experience was prevalent more recent roles.
Reshaping the image
Brenda’s new résumé had to engage her audience both from a content and from a visual perspective. It also needed to promote her management experience within each position, ensuring every role on Brenda’s résumé appeared relevant despite the diversity of experience they represented. After discussing the types of roles Brenda was most interested in, it was decided that we would leave the level open for interpretation, but promote her for customer relations, administrative support, and process management skills and experience. These were common elements of each of her positions and areas which she enjoyed and in which she excelled. Within each section of Brenda’s new résumé—from the qualifications summary to commendations, experience, and education—I ensured we kept a close eye on the target, ensuring all experience was communicated in very transferable language which would resonate with Brenda’s target audience. Key to any transferable or career change résumé, it was imperative we identify and communicate the scope of Brenda’s roles, provide a brief overview of her “job,” and impress through value-added accomplishment statements. Brenda’s new résumé represented a marked improvement and a much more strategic presentation of her background which positioned her effectively for what she now wanted to do.