Dear Sam: I am 60 years old and in the process of relocating to the area, and will be interviewing with an automotive dealership later this summer. I have craved a career in automotive sales since my days as a parts counter person from 1977-1984 at a Buick / Chevrolet dealership. On a side note, the girl of my dreams is the reason for this new and exciting shift in my life. This is the third time that our worlds have touched. We began in 1970 as teenagers, parted ways, reunited in 1977, and then parted once again until we rekindled our connection in 2010. I have a resume, but this new career move is so important to me that I would appreciate a professional opinion. – Tim
Dear Tim: What a sweet story and certainly a great reason to ensure you do everything possible to support this “third time’s a charm” love story! Let’s look at your resume and see what we can do to ensure you are putting your best foot forward professionally speaking. Let me first paint a picture of your resume for readers…
Your resume opens with a summary statement: “Dedicated to customer service in various industries for the past 38 years including automotive, supply, residential painting, retail hardware, self employment and a university student store.” Next you present six areas of expertise including: customer service, resolving complaints, problem solving, retail sales, training, and retail management. Your professional experience follows which includes 7 positions from 1973 to present. Education and training close your resume with notes of your college credits and professional development completed mostly during your time working in hardware stores.
Okay, so let’s now focus on what we can do to improve the picture.
Focus not on possessing 38 years of professional work experience but on your proven record of success in sales / business development, customer relationship management, department leadership, and training. Presenting that you offer 38 years of work experience actually overqualifies you and unnecessarily ages your candidacy. Right-size your candidacy by shifting from presenting the amount and breadth of experience you have, to focusing on the experiences you have that are most transferable to your current career target. Continue this approach in your skills section, being sure to focus on the areas of expertise most relevant to your next role.
While you need to revamp your summary statement, this area of your resume really has a lot of room for improvement. First, you should never go back into the 1970s on a resume if you can avoid it. In your case, I understand that your automotive experience occurred back then, but you can present that in a byline without dates. Meaning, perhaps only explore the expected 10-15 years of professional work history and then simply note that you have foundational experience in the automotive industry in counter sales and parts management. In addition, be sure to fully explore your roles. Currently, if you present back to 1997—which means including 4 roles which is perfect—you only have 30 words describing those 4 positions! How can the reader understand not only the job you performed, but also how you added value beyond expectations? Explore these roles fully with overviews of your responsibilities and highlights of your key contributions. Relate this content to your current career target, ensuring you are thinking of how each of your functions relates to what you want to do next.
Education and training
Present the degree you were pursuing as that will hold more value than noting you completed History and English coursework. It is fine to present an incomplete college degree in your case as a degree may not be a requirement for most of the roles you are pursuing. For the training you have listed, make sure everything is related to the next step in your career. By that I mean focus on the related training more so than the hardware industry-specific training you received.
I know you will be successful in your professional endeavors if you take some time to reshape how you are presenting your candidacy to your target audience. I wish you great personal and professional success!