Katie came to me needing a résumé for the first time in 18 years. Katie’s last full-time job in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then she’s been working part-time selling fundraising programs and substitute teaching. Katie found herself needing consistent hours and a more dependable position, which is why she was reaching out for résumé assistance.
Katie was interested in pursuing accounting, customer service and administrative roles. Typically, an objective that diverse would be too broad to create a targeted résumé. But given the blend of experiences Katie enjoyed throughout her career, I felt we could position her effectively, despite the diversity. So, we made a plan to leverage her three main experiences to position her for customer service, administrative and bookkeeping positions.
Katie’s last full-time role was dated in nature (pre-1994). Therefore, her candidacy could not hinge on that experience. She did, however, need to leverage that early experience in order to open certain doors in the accounting arena. To do that, her early experience was presented in a Foundational Experience section with the omission of dates.
This strategy allowed us to focus on Katie’s experience from 2004 to present, but also added value through the presentation of related experience without the context of when it occurred. This strategy, also called bylining, is a key way for candidates to present relevant experience without unnecessarily aging their candidacy.
Since holding her last full-time job, Katie had mainly been involved in marketing, selling and managing school fundraising programs. Holding a customer service title for seven years, this experience could be used to market her customer service, client relations and administrative capabilities. Despite being part-time, this role was explored with the depth necessary to effectively communicate the value this added to Katie’s candidacy. As a lot of what a hiring manager feels about your experience is predicated by how a candidate presents that experience on paper, giving a role some space on the page is critical in communicating that the role adds value to your candidacy.
Again, despite Katie’s substitute teaching experience being sporadic in nature, it was still explored fully in order to convey value. We pulled out highlights that best related to Katie’s administrative and customer service skill set. In addition, we featured strengths that best relate to the skills required of an administrative support, customer service or bookkeeping professional. Tying demonstrated skills to the requirements of the roles you are applying for is a powerful way to make lesser-related roles work in your favor on your résumé.
Also key to the presentation of Katie’s candidacy is the aesthetic created on paper. You will see from Katie’s résumé that despite presenting a significant amount of work history, Katie’s résumé is well balanced, has ample white space and incorporates color to provide visual breaks in the information presented. The formatting of your résumé can literally make or break your search, so paying attention to not only what your résumé communicates but also how it presents that message is of vital importance.
Keep your options open
There are ways to keep your options open without diluting the effectiveness of your résumé. Tread carefully, however, to ensure you are adding value to your candidacy with everything you include on your résumé. And, of course, don’t neglect the visual you create as the look of your résumé can compel or repel readership.
Best of luck to you in your 2013 search.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).