Dear Sam: After 10 years in inside sales, my employer went out of business. Unfortunately, more recent positions have been short-term as I jumped at the first thing I could find. I now know this was not the wisest decision as it makes me look like a “job hopper.” I have more than 20 years of sales experience and have won many awards, but apparently, all the “attaboys” don’t mean very much as I am not getting any callbacks for interviews. — Brian
Dear Brian: Your awards, sales contributions, and track record of surpassing performance targets position you as a top sales recruit. The issue is not your record of results, rather the way you have presented them on your resume. I find your resume exceptionally difficult to read with a confusing blend of formatting, headings, and spacing. While I know your recent history shows a little more movement than we would like, I believe once you address resume formatting and content issues, your last five or so years of experience will appear much more robust.
I mentioned the formatting confusion above and touched on the need for content revisions. Do you know your resume contains almost 950 words, but only about 10% of those words relate to ways you contributed value and earned those “attaboys!” You may think you are focusing on your accomplishments, but you are not. You must concentrate on critical contributions to “show” your value to potential employers and overcome the potential disqualifier of being seen as a job hopper.
Lastly, your resume is filling three pages, which contributes to the appearance of “a lot of jobs.” Once you address the content and formatting, I would encourage you to attempt a two-page presentation of your candidacy. I believe this will provide a clearer picture of your background while making you focus on the highlights of each position versus the mundane day-to-day duties. Best of luck to you.
Dear Sam: I enjoy reading your advice column. Your column made me want to write to you because I feel I’m in a slight bind. I’m feeling bored and unmotivated at work, the job pays well, but most of my time is spent looking at computer monitors all day. When I was younger, I obtained a graphic design certificate but never pursued it as a career. I love art and design, it motivates me, and I would love to be a full-time artist. I need a career change, but I’m not sure what to do. Any advice? – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: I understand your situation. It can be very challenging when you have carved out a niche for your career but deep down really feel compelled to be doing something different. Given your day-to-day work’s analytical nature, compared to the creative drive you possess, I can see the struggle you must be facing.
Have you thought about building your graphic design or art portfolio through freelance work or volunteer engagements? That’s a great way to make a portfolio and update your skills, while perhaps maintaining the security of your current role in a challenging workplace climate. I work with many clients who want to do something “different” in their career, and “different” doesn’t always have to be the complete opposite of what you are doing now. Perhaps just changing companies or industries, yet still engaging in similar analytical work, but freelancing on the side, would fulfill both your need to earn a paycheck and your desire to be more artistically engaged. You will want to evaluate what type of position you feel you would like to transition into and review those opportunities to gain a sense of how qualified you are for those roles given the lack of recent experience in the design arena. It may make the most sense to transition into an organization with opportunities for you to diversify your contributions beyond what you are doing now, hopefully with a path to getting into the more creative arena you seek. Also, start networking in that community by joining online forums or attending local association meetings (digitally, for now, in-person later) to begin to understand what the design industry is like as we move into 2021.