I am a 43-year-old father of two who was recently downsized from my
engineering job due to a lack of work in the field. I have a bachelor’s
degree in social sciences, but have never been able to use it as a plus
in my job search.
As I want to branch out or leave the field,
how do I update my current résumé that basically lists one type of job
with different firms? I attempted to get a career started as a
“professional” but ended up backing into the field I have been in for
nearly 16 years, almost as an afterthought. Today I worry I have too
much experience (i.e., my salary is too high and my experience is too
specialized) for the tight job market in my field, but I have no good
idea how to market myself for a position outside of it. Call it a
midlife or mid-career crisis, but I am stumped as to how to make the
next move. – Charles
I’m sorry to hear you were recently downsized, and I know how
incredibly difficult it can be at times to decipher how to market your
background, not for the jobs you’ve held, but for the jobs you want.
started by figuring out what types of positions you are interested in.
As you will need to sell your skills that are transferable to the type
of position you want, you have to know what direction you want to take.
Once you have identified the direction, print out several job postings
you are interested in. Start highlighting common skills and
requirements found in these job postings and then cross-reference those
with your background. The skills or requirements you share (i.e., those
found both in the job postings and in your own background) are the
areas in which you need to focus your résumé.
To do this, you
could highlight your transferable experience under subheadings using
the key areas you find doing the aforementioned activity. Typically, I
would place this in a “Select Highlights” section immediately following
the qualifications summary. That way, the reader sees your value and
the transferability of your skills during the screening process.
Alternatively, if the headings idea doesn’t work well, based on what
you have identified as the transferable skills, then you could just
present a strong qualifications summary positioning you for the jobs
you want, or still use a highlights section and not use subheadings if
you have difficulty categorizing the items.
“Professional Experience” section, also be sure to relate the
applicability of your past to your desired future. Doing so will ensure
you engage the readers and communicate how your experience supports
their needs. Best of luck to you.
Dear Sam: I'm
an accounting professional, and the last two positions I've held ended
with a layoff. The first was due to lack of work and a downturn in the
economy, and the second was as a result of my job being eliminated. I
wasn't in these roles very long, so when people glance down to the
Professional Experience section on my résumé they see 2006-2008 and
2005-2006. Immediately, it sends up red flags that I'm a job hopper.
However, this isn't the case, as I explained above. These were
situations out of my control. Could you please advise how I should
address this so that my résumé doesn't get pitched immediately? – Scott
I actually don’t think you would be seen as a job hopper, having 1-2
years with the first employer and 2-3 years with the second employer.
Many hiring managers have, themselves, been the victim of a layoff, so
gone are the days when it is assumed you left a company on your own
accord. If you are truly worried about this, you could easily add a
brief company description under the company name and before your title.
In this description, you could say a little about the company and then
a brief mention of the reason you left. I typically advise you don’t
mention the reason you left an employer, but if this is bothering you,
then you certainly could. Here is an example: Leading manufacturer of
widgets with $50M in annual sales; underwent a restructuring in 2006,
resulting in a significant downsizing initiative. I think when you do
this, you will calm your nerves about being seen as a job hopper, yet
not focus too heavily on the reason for your departures.
I am finishing my master's degree and I am working on my résumé and
cover letter to find a new job. I have sent out tons of résumés and
have applied for quite a few jobs in the last few months, but I just
can't seem to nail down an interview. I think once I get my foot in the
door, my interview skills are good enough to get a job, but it's
getting that face time that is difficult for me. I have an idea as to
what is holding me back from getting an interview, and I wonder if you
could provide me with some direction as to how to best handle my
In 2004, I moved to the state to go to graduate school
and I had to take some temporary positions in order to have an income
while I was looking for more suitable employment. I have been in my
current position for more than a year, but it is a temporary position
and I'm not sure I will ever have the opportunity to become full-time.
How do I address this on my résumé and cover letter? Should I indicate
that it is a temporary position on the résumé or should I explain my
situation in the cover letter? I have tried both ways, but it seems
that neither has produced the results I'm looking for. I know that it
looks like I'm a job hopper but that's not the case. I have held
several temporary positions over the last 7 years, with 2 of those
positions lasting more than one year in length, but I am interested in
obtaining a permanent position in the very near future. – Anonymous
I’d start by evaluating what positions really need to be on your
résumé. It is likely that you could combine similar positions or
completely omit those that were very short term and have little to do
with your current objective. By doing this, you will minimize the
appearance of being a “job hopper” and focus the hiring manager’s
attention on your skills, experiences, and education that qualify you
for the job you want. A lot of the time when I work with clients who
have held several temporary positions, we combine the positions to
present a more “solid” view of their experience. For example:
Agency One / Agency Two / Agency Three (2006-Present)
throughout a portfolio of small, midsized, and large organizations to
provide diligent administrative support to a wide range of executive
and management personnel.
In addition, be sure to note in your
education section that you have worked full-time /part-time while
completing your degree program. Congratulations on your upcoming