After my experience of trying to get back to work, I thought I should pass this advice on to someone else who may be in the situation I was in or is thinking about changing careers. I hope you can find this helpful.
Have a good resume
This is pretty important so it should go without saying. But it still must be said. A bad resume is pretty much like having no resume at all, no life raft in a sea of tumult that is the job search, you get the idea. Make sure your resume markets yourself as best as possible at the beginning so that the hiring manager can actually be interested and not print out your resume just to throw it in the trash. Include a short summary describing who you are and what you’re looking for. (“Highly motivated project manager seeking to utilize my skills in a challenging environment” for example.) Then include your “Areas of Expertise.”
Fill your “Areas of Expertise” section with buzzwords that make YOU better than the rest
List everything you’re good at doing, and other skills you have from your working or every day experience. Hiring managers deal with over 9000 resumes at a time and have no time to read through a body of text that looks like War and Peace. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who possess specific traits and the more you list up top, the more likely they’ll reach out.
Don’t sell yourself short
Every bit of experience you have is worthy experience, even if your first job was stocking shelves and getting yelled at. Every job you had gave you new skills and you accumulated experience in every one. Don’t ignore them! A labor professional suggested that other job experience I’ve accumulated in the past be put in a section of the resume titled “Relevant Related Experience.” You might not think it’s relevant or related but you can’t let the hiring manager think that. Put it all down. At the very least it shows that you’ve been on an upward trend in your career, taking what you learned and applying it to the next job.
One question I asked when I met with a labor professional during my unemployment was how could I fit everything onto one page of a resume? Her advice was to use half inch margins. You’ll be surprised how much you can fit, and how much more you can fit on one page, too. You can now squeeze more of your working experience, or even make your experience look more robust as you can now add a few more bullet points.
Keep it simple, keep it black and white
This bit of advice given to me was a bit surprising, as I didn’t give ink color any thought. The labor person told me that using color made me come across as someone slightly inconsiderate, that hiring managers will think of me as wasteful (!) because the resume would require them to print in color. Take this advice however you want, but I was willing to listen to her advice and got rid of all use of color. Think of this as more of a subliminal thing for the hiring manager; if you can give them one fewer thing to worry about when printing your resume, do it. Also, the content of your resume should hold more weight than the ink color but again, don’t force the manager to have to select color if they don’t have to—what if he or she works in an office that can’t afford color ink???
I took this advice and improved my resume. Within a week or two I was getting a lot more emails and cold calls from hiring managers and headhunters. I was desperately trying to get anyone to even look at my old resume but with this new one it sometimes felt like I had too many people interested in my services! (Not that that’s a bad thing.) But after what I endured from the many months of desperately trying to get hired again, the least I can do is share this advice given to me hoping it can help someone else.