Karen had an amazing resume with a lot of significant professional experience. The problem is, all of her experience is from over 15 years ago. Like many women, Karen had a robust and successful career before taking time off to raise kids. With her children in her teens, she is ready to return to the professional workforce.
An initial look at her resume revealed these issues:
- Old-school layout including a “Career Objective” at the top
- A chronological format that ends in 1996
- Job experience listed as responsibilities rather than achievements
- Recent work including volunteer and community buried at the bottom
- Dated terminology and phrases that may instantly age her, such as describing herself as “seasoned” and a “pioneer” in one area
- Stale skill set including expertise in technical areas that are no longer relevant
Luckily, given Karen’s great background, it was not difficult to address these issues. Working in her favor is that she had been an active volunteer and community leader during her time at home. This gives her new skills, successes and achievements to fill the “resume gap.” Karen just didn’t know how to highlight those successes on a professional resume. Here are some of the steps she took to bring new life to her resume:
- Replace the career objectives section with a summary of achievements and expertise
- Change the chronological format to a hybrid format focusing first on skills, then going in reverse chronological order, beginning with recent community and volunteer work and backing into her professional achievements from 15 years ago
- Weave together pre-kid skills, experience and success with more recent volunteer and community achievements. For example, Karen was the parent leader on a large school fund raising project. Although the amount raised might not sound like a lot in a corporate environment, she doubled the amount her first year on the job and raised an additional 50% more her second year
- Focus on quantifiable achievements throughout the resume. Replace lists of responsibilities with competencies, successes and value created
- Replace dated skills with current ones. For example, Karen now includes the software program she used to manage a community donors list, instead of listing a computer language she used two decades ago
- Assure the language used throughout the resume is contemporary, portraying Karen as modern and up-to-date
Karen felt an immediate surge in her confidence thanks to her new resume. She is now focusing her energies on networking, a job search strategy she didn’t use the last time she looked for a job, in the early 90s. She notes that many of her former professional colleagues have quickly become valuable members of her network. She is also networking actively with fellow parents, people she worked with in the community, and volunteer connections.
Tell us, are you returning to the work force after taking time off for family or other reasons? What are you doing to make your resume relevant?