Alexis, 33, had just returned to work from an 18-month maternity leave when COVID-19 hit. She was temporarily laid off from her job as a meeting manager at a local convention centre in May and has found limited opportunities in her field. So she’s now considering making a change to another industry.
In her previous roles, Alexis enjoyed the elements of planning, completing to-do lists and seeing projects through from beginning to end. “I liked working on projects where you see tangible results,” Alexis explains. She’s now exploring roles related to project management. “I believe many of my skills can easily be applied to a role in project management.” Alexis is also interested in working in a postsecondary education setting or as a facility or property manager, and is flexible in considering other opportunities. “I’m pretty much open to any industry as I can’t think of one that I wouldn’t work in if the job was interesting,” she explains. “But I avoid any jobs that are heavily focused on sales, communications or fundraising in the job description or requirements.”
Alexis has applied for about 20 jobs through platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed but hasn’t been called in for any interviews. “I’m more discerning about what I apply for,” she says. “It has to interest me, have a starting salary of a certain amount, be in line with my skills and provide me with a new challenge or further my skills in some way.” But Alexis does admit she feels a greater sense of urgency to find work the longer she is unemployed. So we reached out to career coach Shauna Vassell and Sandra Harris, executive director of the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement at Centennial College, to offer their advice and feedback.
What the career coach says
While Ms. Vassell says that Alexis has done a good job of summarizing her job positions and experiences, her résumé isn’t creating the impact required to get to the next stage in hiring. “The résumé is always about answering the question ‘Why should we interview you?’” Ms. Vassell says. “If you can’t answer this question in their first couple of seconds reading, you’ve lost the reader.” Ms. Vassell sugests that Alexis can accomplish this by adding a short profile to the top of her résumé which highlights her key experiences, impressive results and transferable skills. “Alexis should state the number of years of experience she has in event-planning rather than letting the screener calculate the dates,” Ms. Vassell says.
Alexis should also think about what value she would bring to the hiring organization. “In a career-switch scenario, her value positioning is a crucial part in creating her personal career narrative,” explains Ms. Vassell. She can achieve this by highlighting key skills, such as stakeholder-relationship management, vendor and contract management, project and budget management earlier on in her résumé. “Alexis brings a number of key skills to the table, but they’re buried in the details.”
Currently, Alexis has up to nine bullet points describing her job experiences. But Ms. Vassell recommends a maximum of five per job. And while she has highlighted hard skills effectively, Alexis should incorporate more soft skills, such as stakeholder management, in her résumé.
Given that Alexis has been searching for work since May, Ms. Vassell believes that applying to only 20 jobs during this time is too low. “I would encourage her to broaden her scope,” Ms. Vassell advises. “Alexis possesses a variety of transferable skills that can be used in the industries that are experiencing growth since the pandemic, specifically in planning and stakeholder management.” Given that Alexis enjoyed the detail-oriented aspects of her previous work, she might consider process-driven industries such as telecommunications, health care and other essential services that would benefit from her logistics and planning background.
Meanwhile, Alexis can continue to harness existing contacts by reaching out to LinkedIn connections to let them know that she’s looking for new opportunities. “Include a list of what you have done, what you are really good at and what you are looking for,” Ms. Vassell recommends.
What the industry expert says
Alexis indicated an interest in working for the alumni department of a postsecondary institution, and Ms. Harris encourages her to consider roles in postsecondary. “But due to COVID-19, Alexis may need to manage her expectation of a full-time, regular position and consider contract work,” she explains.
Ms. Harris commends Alexis’s neat and tidy résumé. But she also recommends including an opening statement to highlight her areas of expertise. “In order for her résumé to stand out in a crowd, she will need to customize it to suit the role she is applying for,” Ms. Harris explains. “The hiring manager needs to be able to visualize Alexis in the role.”
For positions specifically within the alumni department, Ms. Harris encourages applicants to highlight interpersonal and relationship-management skills. “If she had specific examples of building successful relationships or being a good team player in her work or volunteer opportunities, she could state them in her résumé,” Ms. Harris says. “If not, she could include them in a bullet list and then demonstrate her interpersonal skills during the interview process.”
While Alexis indicated an aversion to roles that involve fundraising, Ms. Harris encourages her to consider it. “I would encourage Alexis to keep an open mind in relation to fundraising as alumni officers often work in partnership or on the same teams with development officers,” Ms. Harris says. “The ability to collaborate successfully with development officers and fundraisers is an important element of an alumni-officer role in higher education.”
The new résumé
Alexis has added a professional summary at the top of her résumé to highlight her skills, experience and achievements. She has also pulled out some key transferable skills applicable to other industries as well as adding a section to display key accomplishments. As Ms. Vassell suggested, Alexis has slimmed down the number of bullet points for her job descriptions. She has also incorporated more examples of how she developed soft skills, such as problem solving and communication, in her previous roles.
INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RéSUMé REVIEWED?
Email us with your résumé at email@example.com, and we’ll ask a career coach and an expert in your field to provide their feedback. Names and some details are changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled. We’re especially interested in hearing from those who have had their employment impacted by COVID-19. On the flipside, if you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us as well.
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