Dear Sam: I was recently downsized from my 23-year role in the customer service industry. My job was outsourced to a call center—overseas—as is often the case these days. I never thought I would need to look for a job at the age of 53; quite frankly, I don’t know where to begin. What I do know, though, is that I need to create a résumé that positions me for roles in multiple areas. I fear my age will work against me, so I do not want to pigeonhole myself into solely customer service jobs. I am thinking I may return to an administrative role, could continue to work in customer service, but may also explore more operations-focused roles where I manage a process or program. Do you have any examples I could look at to provide guidance on how to even approach a résumé at this point in my life? Thank you. — Ken
Dear Ken: I am so sorry to hear of your recent downsizing. You are right; that is still a very common occurrence, but shocking nonetheless. I recently worked with a client in the same situation and I think her résumé will provide you with some ideas on how to structure the presentation of your background to position your candidacy effectively for the roles you are seeking. Let me go through my approach with my client Jessie to inspire your résumé writing juices!
Jessie came to me after she was downsized from an airline. She barely had a résumé and provided me with a very primitive list of her jobs since 1988 with her titles and literally a handful of words describing each role. Through my conversation with Jessie, I dug deeper, asking questions about the scope of her roles, the challenges, her crowning achievements, and what she took from one job to another. Through that discussion, I was better able to see how each of her roles positioned her as more qualified for the next. With this information, I started creating what would become a two-page résumé positioning her for customer service, administrative assistant, and operations support roles.
Based on the diversity of positions for which Jessie wanted to apply, I created a somewhat open-ended qualifications summary. Jessie had worked for very notable organizations—and I wanted that to come through loud and clear in the initial scan of her résumé—so I included the logos of the organizations in which she had worked. Doing this provided potential employers with an immediate understanding of the level of customer service and administrative / operations support Jessie must have provided given she had worked for some world-class organizations. In addition, I added an excerpt from one of her letters of recommendation immediately to reinforce the notion that Jessie was great at what she did.
Within the professional experience section of Jessie’s résumé, I presented her roles with a brief paragraph summary followed by two to three bulleted highlights introduced by functional area. Introducing these highlights with a functional subheading allowed me to focus and frame the experience as I wanted it to be seen. For instance, a hiring manager could easily perform a visual scan of Jessie’s résumé and get a great sense of the areas in which she had contributed, just by reading the functional subheadings. This strategy allowed me to reinforce the experience on which I wanted the reader to focus. In addition, each job summary was introduced by highlighted noun phrases communicating the keywords most relevant to the job she performed. This too allowed for greater focus on select aspects of Jessie’s roles. While there still was not a terrific amount of content on Jessie’s résumé, it was highly focused and proved very effective in her search.
I hope this provides a quasi-roadmap for you, Ken, and inspires you to create your own unique image on paper. Best of luck for a tremendously successful search. View Jessie’s résumé here