Meet Alexandra!

Alexandra had made a decision to change career paths from the corporate world to higher education but was faced with the challenge of creating a résumé that would effectively market her to her target audience. She had not updated her résumé in 10+ years and had not worked in academics in 12 years. Alexandra came to me, not knowing where to start with her résumé, and asked me to translate her skills from the corporate world to higher education.

The Résumé

Alexandra's original résumé was underdeveloped and overcrowded. While it was just two pages in length, the block paragraphs of information contained within each professional engagement section made the résumé difficult to read and a turn-off for any potential employer. In its current format, there would be no way a hiring manager would be able to see, and therefore understand, how Alexandra was qualified for her targeted positions given that her higher education experience did not appear until page two of the résumé. In addition, no accomplishments were presented and there was no prioritization to the information presented. Alexandra had also not been able to translate the marketing skills she gained in the past 10+ years into a language that made sense for higher education, creating a résumé that was doing nothing but marketing her for exactly what she had been doing in recent years.

In order to market a candidate for something different, you have to create a robust qualifications summary which helps the reader (the target audience) visualize how the candidate is qualified. Replacing Alexandra's original four-line summary with a relevant 6-line summary, 4 key taglines, and a list of 10 core skills, the reader would now view Alexandra as a higher education candidate before reaching the professional experience section of the résumé and the post-1999 and non-higher education-related experience she had gained. Alexandra's summary, as mentioned above, was introduced by 4 key taglines which presented a high level summary of what the reader needed to know in the 4-second screening process...

Possess a master's degree concentrated in Higher Education Administration & College Student Personnel

Played a key role in student retention, engagement, and community-building with DePaul and Loyola

Combine experience in higher education with corporate marketing and account management tenure

Design and execute strategic marketing and retention programs that drive goal attainment

With this introduction and focus in the qualifications summary, and the extension of that strategy throughout the professional experience section, Alexandra looked like a higher education candidate with a value-added career in marketing.

In the qualifications summary, I brought forward the relevance of Alexandra's marketing career, translating it to her audience to ensure her most recent experience did not seem irrelevant. Likewise, in the professional experience section I presented Alexandra's roles with her current career target in mind, being sure to present the relevance of each responsibility or accomplishment so each could be read in light of, and make sense for, the higher education field.

While Alexandra's new résumé extended to 3 pages, the length provided the opportunity to add much needed white space, fully explore the relevance of her recent career, and explain her experience in higher education which occurred back in the mid and late 1990's. The third page also provided the opportunity to present the seminars and workshops Alexandra led while she was in the higher education field, reinforcing her image as a subject matter expert.

Alexandra's Journey:

Alexandra was kind enough to write to me and say The finished product is well beyond my expectations! You did an outstanding job branding my image. I know with this updated version I now have the a résumé that will receive attention... Alexandra's résumé did get the attention she wanted and her new image, on paper, secured interviews in higher education and played a key role in her transitioning out of the corporate arena and into a program director role for a large public university.

View Alexandra's new résumé on

Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at For more about Sam's résumé writing services, visit or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).