Dear Sam: I am retired after nearly 25 years of working for the military. I got married 20 years ago to a man who immigrated to the US, and he has since followed me throughout my career to various duty stations, most of which have been overseas.
During our journey, he earned an MBA degree but has not consistently worked in a full-time job in 10 years due to our consistent moves around the world. He has lectured for some organizations pro bono and taught online and in-person college courses, but that program lost funding years ago. According to his calculations, my husband has applied for about 100 positions. He admits that he was qualified for some of those roles, overqualified for others, and perhaps underqualified for some. While those have garnered a few interviews, none have become job offers.
I feel guilty that my husband has had to put his dreams on the back burner while he followed me in my career. Now that I am retired, we could use some extra income, and my husband will be searching for work again. He is, however, discouraged given his lack of full-time experience, the holes he feels he has in his resume from job gaps, and the lack of success he has experienced in his previous job searches.
What advice would you have for someone with a lot to offer but limited work experience and who lacks the confidence to engage in a search, given past rejections? – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: I’m sorry you feel guilty that your husband put his dreams aside while you journey through your career; I am sure that is the last thing he would want you to feel. How wonderful that, instead of being separated, you both got to enjoy traveling worldwide and experiencing different cultures and environments together. Now, given you have retired and he is going to look for a position for additional income, I imagine the easiest point of entry for him would be returning to the teaching he has done in the past.
I rarely recommend a functionally formatted resume, but this might be a situation in which it is the perfect solution. Presenting his experiences by functional areas—perhaps curriculum development, classroom and online instruction, student success management, teaching, course administration, and more—would allow him to focus the employer on the sum of all of his experiences instead of when and where they occurred.
Additionally, applying for positions for which he is not overqualified is very important, given that a candidate is more likely to be called for a position in which they are underqualified versus overqualified. Finding that sweet spot where he will be a well-qualified candidate is vitally important to the success of his search and his resulting confidence. Perhaps looking at some adjunct teaching positions, even with online programs, so he could potentially pick up numerous part-time contracts concurrently would return him to the work he enjoyed while also providing a robust retirement income.
As I do not know the intricate nature of the experiences he has held, that would be my first suggestion. Create a resume with a qualifications summary, followed by a highlights section organized by functional subheadings. That leaves a work experience section to fall to page two of the resume, presenting the years of employment with his employers of perhaps the last 10 to 15 years. They should paint a more palatable and competitive picture of his candidacy. Given our current unemployment rate and the fact that he has global teaching experience, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be successful in securing some adjunct roles with universities teaching subjects of interest. I wish you great success and happiness as you walk this retirement journey together.