Aaron, 31, has worked for six years as a campaign manager and political adviser. But after losing an election, Aaron decided to switch careers and pursue an MBA, which he completed in December, 2020. Since graduating, Aaron has applied for over 75 jobs and has reached the interview stage twice, but he still hasn’t landed a role. “I think, like many people, the job search can feel like shouting into the void because there is often no response,” he writes.
Aaron is looking for positions in management consulting, strategy and business design. As an independent consultant, he has worked on SEO, brand management and content creation for companies. But Aaron is now searching for a full-time position. “I want to do something where I can be a strategic thinker and work on several different files at once for a company,” Aaron writes.
He’s open to working in most industries, aside from social media. “I’d like to find a company where there is room to grow,” he says. “It could be a large company where I can work my way up through the ranks or a startup that is expanding.” He enjoys positions that are fast-paced and working on issues that have positive impacts. He appreciates having a sense of autonomy in his position.
So we reached out to career coach Luki Danukarjanto and Adam Froman, CEO and founder of the research tech company Delvinia, to review Aaron’s résumé and offer their advice for his next steps.
What the career coach says
Mr. Danukarjanto says that Aaron’s résumé is clean but could use more targeting to the jobs he’s applying for. “The résumé needs to be tailored to each job description,” Mr. Danukarjanto. Since Aaron is interested in roles that have quite varying demands and needs, he might not have success using a general résumé for his applications.
Instead, Aaron should identify and highlight which of his transferable skills match the job he’s applying for “Really make it blatant that this experience you have accounts for this requirement from the job posting,” says Mr. Danukarjanto. “Though of course, don’t plagiarize by copying and pasting the requirement bullet directly.”
If Aaron doesn’t have solid transferable experience, Mr. Danukarjanto recommends obtaining experience through organizations such as Endeavour Volunteer Consulting, or doing a pro bono or freelance consulting project for a friend who owns a business.
There are a few formatting tweaks that Mr. Danukarjanto also recommends to elevate Aaron’s résumé to the next level. He should avoid “orphans” – one word on a single line – by reducing that line by a word or filling out the bullet point with more detail. Aaron should also right-align the dates and months of his education section to keep it consistent with the rest of his résumé.
Lastly, Aaron should consider upgrading the activities he lists in his résumé into achievements. “Activities are what you did,” says Mr. Danukarjanto. “Achievements are how well you did it.” For example, Aaron says he co-ordinated the placement of 10,000 signs during a mayoral campaign, but Mr. Danukarjanto says he should state what the goal was to turn the activity into an achievement.
What the industry expert says
Mr. Froman says that Aaron’s résumé shows that he has an interesting background in politics, but there’s more he can do to help it to stand out from the crowd. First, Mr. Froman suggests adding an executive summary to the top of his résumé. “I’m not a big fan of putting highlights of qualifications that simply say ‘this is who I am,’” Mr. Froman says. “Rather, the statement should say ‘this is how I fit with you and I know what you are looking for. This is why I would be your ideal candidate.’”
Since Aaron’s business experience is limited to student and internship roles, Mr. Froman believes that he is aiming for roles that are too senior. Instead, Aaron should try to get his foot in the door with an organization that he’s interested in. “The larger firms are great training grounds to develop a foundation in consulting,” says Mr. Froman. “Then, use it as either a launching pad to a more specialized boutique firm, moving to industry or thriving within the large-firm environment.”
Aaron could also leverage his background in politics to find a role in government relations with a growing technology company in an area such as cleantech, AI or digital services. “He can identify opportunities to leverage government support to help the organization scale, build a presence in government or pursue government contracts,” Mr. Froman suggests. “It is a unique skill to be working in industry but have an appreciation and understanding of the importance of public policy.”
Finally, Mr. Froman suggests that Aaron should leverage his network to increase the chances of an introduction or a connection to a hiring company. “Since a résumé is a static document and doesn’t tell the entire story, having a personal contact to get an interview can be a game-changer.” Aaron should also ask for informational interviews with senior people at companies he’s interested in. “You can ask them about the job and for career advice, which often leads to a discussion about hiring.”
The new résumé
Aaron has added an executive summary to the top of his résumé which highlights what makes him an ideal job candidate for a consulting role. He has resolved the orphans in his résumé by adding more detail to those bullet points. He also incorporated more accomplishments into his résumé, such as growth percentages and goals exceeded. And he has formatted the dates in the education section to be consistent with the rest of his résumé.
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