Dear Sam: I enjoy reading your advice column. Your column made me want to write to you because I feel I’m in a slight bind. I’m feeling bored and unmotivated at work, the job pays well, but most of my time is spent looking at computer monitors all day. When I was younger, I obtained a graphic design certificate but never pursued it as a career. I love art and design, it motivates me, and I would love to be a full-time artist. I think I need a career change but I’m not sure what to do. Any advice? – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: I understand your situation. It can be very challenging when you have carved out a niche for your career but deep down really feel compelled to be doing something different. Given the analytical nature of your day-to-day work, compared to the creative drive you possess, I can see the struggle you must be facing.
Have you thought about building your graphic design or art portfolio through freelance work or volunteer engagements? That’s a great way to build a portfolio and update your skills. I work with many clients who want to do something “different” in their career and “different” doesn’t always have to be the complete opposite of what you are doing now. Perhaps just changing companies or industries, yet still engaging in similar analytical work, but freelancing on the side, would fulfill both your need to earn a paycheck and your desire to be more artistically engaged. You will really want to evaluate what type of position you feel you would want to transition into, and review those opportunities to gain a sense of how qualified you are for those roles given the lack of recent experience in the design arena. It may make the most sense to transition into an organization that has opportunities for you to diversify your contributions beyond what you are doing now, hopefully with a path to getting into the more creative arena you seek. Also start networking in that community by joining online forums or attending local association meetings to start to gain a sense of what the design industry is like in 2016. I really hope you find what you are looking for.
Dear Sam: Since 2006, I have had a series of bad professional luck. All positions over the past decade—except for one in 2010—have ended due to situations outside of my control. I have only listed temporary positions on my resume that I feel lend a new skill set or experience to my candidacy, or those that lasted for several months. If I omit too many of those roles, I find I am asked about the gaps in my work history. I’m aware that my age may be a factor in not being considered by a perspective employer and don’t want that to be compounded by appearing to be a flight risk. My resume is embarrassing. What can I do to show my experience and desire to work, but avoid highlighting short-term employment for the last 10 years? – Stefanie
Dear Stefanie: Your resume, as it stands, shows a really consistent work history in the customer service, administrative, and project coordination fields. This is fantastic as it means you will be able to weave a common thread throughout your experiences despite having had a few more jobs than you would have hoped for.
Even with the streamlining you have done, there is actually room for more. You should first omit months of experience on your resume, leaving only the years you worked with each employer. Doing so immediately “cleans up” the picture and, aesthetically, does a lot to unclutter the page. Now, when you do that you will see you actually have three very short-term positions you can absolutely afford to omit on your resume. This will leave you with a career chronology that looks like 2000-2006, 2007-2008, 2008-2011, 2012-2013, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016. Six positions in 16 years is not at all uncommon. Realize that omitting positions from your resume, when short-term and not as related to your current career targets as others, is actually an expected practice. Hiring managers do not expect to read about everything you have ever done, rather will be more interested in the aspects of your career that related to where you want to go next. Having said that, this isn’t an application, so there may be times you must disclose the entire chronology, but for the sake of your resume utilize the control you are able to have with this document to paint a more streamlined picture. Best of luck.