Dear Sam: Reading your

articles may be the only enjoyable part of my job search! I have two

questions I am hoping you can address for me. I left my career about 9

years ago to be a stay-at-home mom. I have worked part-time in a

professional position in a different field since then. Although this part-time

position complements my original career, it is unrelated. I have tried to

highlight how my part-time position has strengthened my skills as they relate

to my original career (better public speaker, current computer skills,

etc.). There have been several companies with job postings, almost

identical to my former career position, from which I have not received an interview.

I feel it is due to my being out of the field too long. My résumé is tailored

to the company, edited by another person, printed on quality paper, and

professional, yet I’m not getting a response.


I have a hard time writing a one-size-fits-all type of

résumé. I tailor each résumé based on the description for the job. This

takes a lot of time! If I were getting interviews, I would feel it was

worth the time, but I’m not. Any suggestions for this? – Beth

Dear Beth: Thank you for your

kind words, and I am sorry to hear your job search is not going well. You are

taking the right steps in attempting to sell the transferability of your

part-time engagement. In addition to relating your recent experience to your

current career objective, be sure you are focusing on your experiences that

qualify you for the opportunities you are pursuing. To do this, open your

résumé with a qualifications summary showcasing your past experiences. Use

current job postings to guide the development of this section, ensuring you are

using up-to-date keywords and phrases. In order to not have the experience be

discounted as “dated,” do not note any reference in this summary in regards to

when these experiences occurred.


the next section of your résumé, you will likely want to pull out career

highlights. By doing so, your dates of employment and the professional

experience section will fall to page two of your résumé—a definite

strategy—and, of course, because of their placement on page two, they will play

a lesser role in the screening process. In the career highlights section, you

can focus on past experiences that position you for what you now want to do.

Use this section to highlight achievements, experiences that were particularly

stellar, and skills you developed that are notable to your current goals.


two of your résumé, and the professional experience section, will begin with

your part-time engagement, again playing a much less significant role in the

screening process solely due to the fact it is on page two of your résumé. It

is still important to include your part-time position strategically, selling

the related skills you have developed, your up-to-date technical abilities, and

also that you have maintained involvement in the professional arena.

Positioning and prioritizing your experiences in this manner will help minimize

the impact of a potentially disqualifying factor, while maximizing the weight

of your related skills and experiences.


for your second question of how to create a one-size-fits-all résumé, I have to

steer you away from doing so due to their lack of effectiveness. A résumé that

attempts to speak the language of multiple hiring managers, only results in

presenting diluted content to any given reader, thereby reducing its

effectiveness and the response you receive. Instead, develop a solid

professional experience section and simply tailor the qualifications summary or

a core skills list to each opportunity. When I work with my clients, 90%+ only

need one résumé to accomplish their objective; for those who do need multiple

versions, it is because their secondary or tertiary objective is quite diverse.

You should not need to create a résumé for each position, only a résumé for

each of your objectives. If you can first define the purpose you want to

achieve with your résumé, you will make your job a lot easier down the road. I

fear that the reason you are developing and redeveloping your résumé is really

rooted in the fact that you have not clearly defined your objective, a critical

first step in the development of an effective résumé. Take a look at what you

want to do, define a primary and possibly a secondary or tertiary objective,

and develop sound résumés for each purpose. By taking the time to make sure

each résumé speaks the language of each type of opportunity you are seeking,

you will save time and dramatically improve your results.


for image:

This targeted résumé

immediately positions the candidate as a medical billing and coding specialist.

Using prioritization and positioning to her advantage, the 7-second screening

process will include a scan of the qualifications summary and the core skills

list, leading the reader’s eyes to the education section which presents her

recent related certification, adding up to a candidate that appears 100% qualified

for the positions of interest.