Dear Sam: I am a huge fan of your column. Thank you for providing services to those of us who are career changers and job hunters. I fit in both categories. Here is my brief history and my problem:
I worked in newspaper advertising sales from 1999 through 2012. In the early years, I was successful, happy, and well compensated. 2011 and 2012 were years of career turbulence. As the publishing industry struggled for ad revenues, I too struggled for income with a pay structure consisting mostly of 100% commission. I resigned from 3 newspapers in a 10-month period in 2012-2013.
From 2013 until today, I have been working in a call center environment with the exception of a small stint as a retail sales clerk. Call center work is not the best environment for me. I struggle with doing the same task every day in a rigid, micro-managed environment.
I have applied to hundreds of jobs over the last few years with no results. I only apply to positions where my skills and experience match the position requirements. I include well-thought out cover letters where I outline my skills and experience in relation to the job qualifications. I revise my resume to fit the job to which I am applying. Most of the jobs I’ve applied for are customer service positions not in a call-center environment.
Recently I did some soul-searching and realized that I am happiest when I am building relationships, doing needs analysis and research, creating and presenting proposals, and evaluating the results with the customer. While I am just a few years shy from retirement age, I am a high-energy professional and hope to parlay my work experience into my own business as a grant/proposal writer. To reflect my experience with this type of work, I had to expand my resume to explore back to 1999. The result is attached. I would appreciate any advice you can give to make it appealing and succinct. – Beth
Dear Beth: Through a review of your resume, and even in the question you posed, I feel you are trying to accomplish too much in one document. Let’s touch on you applying mostly for customer service roles; if this is the case, why open your resume talking about sales and marketing? Instead, focus exclusively on creating a customer service picture, leveraging your experience—only need to present 2007 to present—to adequately position you as qualified in that arena.
Building your own business writing grants and proposals is an offshoot and I do not think the resume would be the driving force in that decision making process. In those cases you would be exploring new business opportunities and perhaps presenting your resume—one interest was established in you—as “evidence” of your background and qualifications. For that reason I think you should focus on developing two resumes, one for customer service and the other to open independent consulting roles.
For your first resume, I would highly recommend only exploring about 8-10 years of your professional career. Hiring managers do not expect to see everything you have ever done, rather a succinct picture of what you have done that positions you for what you want to do now. To this end, I would also omit your short-term positions in 2012 and 2014. There is really no need to include your retail work as you do not need to show additional customer service experience beyond what you have acquired in corporate settings. Also, omission of both short-term roles you held will help streamline the picture, avoid being seen as a job-hopper, and will not impact the strength of your candidacy.
For pursuit of independent engagements, I would recommend creating a professional bio. This would be a one-page marketing document that offers an introduction to your background, skills, and qualifications. Marketing yourself as a business takes a different approach and would not utilize the same strategy as positioning yourself for a traditional employee engagement.
I believe when you define your two distinct messages and create targeted documents positioning your candidacy for each, you will emerge as a much stronger, competitive candidate. Best to you.