Neil, 33, finally landed his dream job in February 2019 as the sales director of a national entertainment company. But in March 2020, he was furloughed due to COVID-19. “I worked hard to develop an opportunity to be hired as a sales director in a niche industry only to have the pandemic take that away,” he writes.
With the restrictions placed on the entertainment industry, Neil is now exploring other industries of interest where his sales skills could be of value. At the moment, he isn’t earning any income from his “side hustle” producing podcasts, so Neil is on CERB while he searches for his next position. “I have submitted one to three applications every day,” Neil says. “I’m spending more time on finding jobs that really speak to me. Eventually, I’ll start mass emailing anyone and everyone, but until then I want to focus on finding something that speaks more to my passions and skills.” Neil enjoyed the opportunities for personal mentorship at his old job and working with clients to make them happy. He hopes to continue this in his next role, along with finding a remote-work-friendly environment and a higher salary. “I would like to work in a field that offers me an income that can support starting a family,” Neil writes. He’s indicated food and beverage as an industry of interest. “It would be a dream to work in alcohol sales.”
To set Neil on the right path, we reached out to career coach Jennifer Cutajar from Clear the Noise Coaching and Suzanne Gardiner, vice-president of sales in Canada for Mark Anthony Wine and Spirits, to review Neil’s résumé and offer him some advice for the next steps in his career.
WHAT THE CAREER COACH SAYS
Since Neil is looking to transition to a new industry, Ms. Cutajar suggests that Neil rejig his résumé to highlight transferable skills and key results that he has accomplished throughout his career. He can also bold impressive business results and achievements to help them stand out.
Ms. Cutajar also suggests that Neil remove the “Passionate About” and “References” section. He can also combine “Skills Summary” and “Tech Skills” into one section. “Neil should only include skills that are transferable to the role, company and industry that he is applying for.” Neil can further tailor his résumé by ensuring that the included skills align with the keywords and requirements listed in job descriptions of interest.
In Neil’s “Accomplishments” section, he can expand this to include awards, certifications and volunteer experience. “This helps to demonstrate that he is a well-rounded candidate,” says Ms. Cutajar. He should also update his résumé to indicate his current status at the entertainment company by adding details about his furlough. For example: “February 2019 – Present (furloughed in March due to COVID-19).”
As for Neil’s career pivot, Ms. Cutajar feels confident in his ability to transition into a new industry. “He has a strong foundation in sales,” she says. “The key to transitioning to a new industry is the person’s willingness to learn new skills and to stay open to coaching.” Neil can demonstrate this openness to coaching in his cover letter, résumé and during the interview stage by highlighting how he was able to learn on the job and achieve business results for his employers.
Once Neil has secured an interview, Ms. Cutajar suggests that he take the time to research the company and industry, especially if it’s new to him. He should be prepared to offer responses like, “Based on your recent annual report, the recent analyst call or press release, I have learned X about your company and the industry. I am confident that my experience at Y where I was able to accomplish Z makes me a great fit for the role at your company.”
Finally, Ms. Cutajar reminds Neil to update his LinkedIn profile and network in his preferred industries. “Find connections to help secure an introductory conversation with the teams you’re interested in joining,” she recommends. “They may not have a role open today, but you never know what will be available in a few months.”
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS
While Ms. Gardiner says that the alcohol industry and companies like Mark Anthony have been able to maintain sales through the pandemic, she has noticed that attrition is lower than usual. This means that there are fewer opportunities in alcohol sales at the moment. But while Neil waits for the right opportunity to arise, Ms. Gardiner has a few suggestions to polish up his résumé.
She recommends he cut it down to a single page. He can accomplish this by taking advantage of the full width of the page for displaying information. In addition, Ms. Gardiner suggests using a more professional font and some colour to help differentiate between sections.
Since Neil is seeking a sales role, his résumé could benefit from showing more personality. “I look for a genuine excitement or passion about the specific opportunity to shine through,” Ms. Gardiner says. “If I am not captivated by the résumé in my first glance, I cannot be confident this person will be able to captivate our customers.” He can accomplish this by adding more descriptive adjectives throughout his résumé and using the “Achievements” section to tell us more about his hobbies and interests.
While Neil previously had a director role in his last job, Ms. Gardiner says that his seniority level may not transfer over to a new industry or employer. “Titles vary from industry to industry and from company to company,” she says. “It is likely he would need to start in an entry-level role and prove himself, then climb the ladder. He will need to set his expectations accordingly and not get tied up in a title.” Ms. Gardiner suggests that Neil, and other sales professionals hoping to get into the beverage-alcohol industry, start with roles as a sales merchandiser or sales associate.
Finally, since Neil expressed a desire to work for employers that speak to his passion and skills, Ms. Gardiner suggests that Neil reach out to HR departments at his top companies of interest. “Make it clear in your note to them that you have researched their specific company and why you would be so excited to be considered for future opportunities,” she says, reminding Neil to customize each résumé to each company and role he applies for. “The more diligent you are at seeking a position you want, the higher the chance of securing one.”
THE NEW RÉSUMÉ
Neil has adopted a colourful, modern template for his new résumé which takes advantage of the full width of the page, cutting his résumé down from two pages to one. Removing the “References” and “Passions” sections and simplifying job descriptions has also helped Neil save space. He has incorporated bolded font into descriptions to help key skills and results to stand out and has also expanded his “Achievements” section to include award nominations and volunteer experience, further demonstrating Neil’s interests and personality.
INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RÉSUMÉ REVIEWED?
Email us with your résumé at firstname.lastname@example.org 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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