Ellen came to me wanting to make a career move. She had most recently spent three years in sales and wanted to return to her customer service and administrative roots. She was concerned about being boxed into staying in the publishing world having worked most recently for a prominent newspaper. While she enjoyed her days in publishing, she was seeking to transition into an environment where she could facilitate direct customer interactions, possibly in a social service or academic setting.

Before the Makeover

Ellen's original résumé was comprised of bullet point after bullet point of information. In fact, her one-page résumé had 26 bullet points listed in a tiny font size, making the format of Ellen's original résumé an immediate turn-off to readers. Through talking with Ellen I came to realize she was extremely modest which contributed to her inability to identify and differentiate achievements from responsibilities on her résumé. As Ellen was unable to do this, her résumé read like a laundry list of everything she did on a daily basis instead of a strategic picture of what she had done that positioned her for what she now wanted to do.

After the Makeover

During my discussion with Ellen I spent a considerable amount of time learning more about her positions, what she was charged with on a daily basis, and the special projects she had been involved in that were outside of the traditional scope of her position. This allowed me to delve deeper into her responsibilities and put her accomplishments in the appropriate context on her new résumé. Through this exercise I also came to realize that it was inappropriate for Ellen to have a one-page résumé, and a two-page résumé would be far more effective in conveying the value she contributed throughout her 13-year career.

Understanding what Ellen had done throughout her career was step one in the makeover process. Step two was understanding where she was headed in her career. To do this we spoke about positions of interest and Ellen sent me a sampling of the jobs she was interested in applying for. All of the positions Ellen was interested in centered on customer service-not sales-and administrative support. In order to create a targeted résumé, I performed an extensive keyword mapping exercise to outline the desired qualifications, experience, education, and skills that would be most important to highlight on Ellen's résumé. Tip: When performing this exercise, open the job postings of interest and place a blank word document in an adjacent window. As you read the job postings of interest, enter the keywords you find in your word document. Then, refer to this keyword file while writing your résumé to ensure you are speaking the right language.

Lastly, I focused on creating an engaging, unique format that would allow for incorporation of additional keywords and focus areas. Using the two-column format in the professional experience section allowed me to introduce Ellen's accomplishments and key contributions with functional subheadings, placing the corresponding bullet point in the appropriate context for the reader.


On receiving her new résumé Ellen wrote, My résumé and cover letters were exactly what I had hoped for! I had originally planned on writing the résumé and cover letters myself, but after thinking about the employment situation right now, having everything professionally done was an absolute must! Your team walked me through the entire process to ensure my qualifications were explained properly and my cover letters fit the positions I was applying for. I am so glad you were there to help me!

To view a full-size version of Ellen's before and after résumé, visit