Carol, 36, has been working as a television and film production coordinator for seven years, five of which have been at the same network. This was supposed to be the year that Carol left the network to explore another industry where her skills could transfer. Then COVID-19 hit.
“I need a change, something to challenge me,” Carol says. “I would like to progress my career into something more fulfilling.”
Carol started her job search in June but feels lost about her next steps. She’s submitted a few applications, which were kept on file, but hasn’t formally applied for any jobs yet. She admits it has been five years since she’s updated her resume. “I’ve been in television for so long that I’m not sure where’s best to go,” Carol says. Pre-pandemic, Carol thought the advertising industry would be a good fit for her.
With the pandemic paring down or cancelling large productions, jobs in television have also been slim. Ideally, Carol would pivot into another career path that harnesses the skills developed from her coordinator background. “The best match for me would involve elements of creativity and hopefully a non-traditional workplace, if that will even exist post-COVID,” says Carol.
To help guide Carol to her next steps, we asked career transition strategist Paula Cowan and Sunil Sekhar, vice-president of human resources at the advertising agency FCB, to review Carol’s resume and offer her some strategies to move forward.
WHAT THE CAREER STRATEGIST SAYS
“Carol is the go-to person to make things happen and to handle last-minute changes,” Ms. Cowan says. “She can absolutely sidestep into project co-ordination. It’s a matter of deciding which industries she finds most interesting, analyzing the job descriptions and talking with people currently working in that type of role.”
If Carol wants to stay close to her industry, Ms. Cowan suggests looking into roles at animation or CGI companies. Otherwise, project co-ordinator positions in communications, marketing and advertising, technology or climate change could be good places for Carol to explore.
Once Carol has narrowed down her job search to a few fields, she should speak to people that followed an unconventional route to get to roles in her target industries. “The wheels will start turning, and she’ll figure out how it applies to her,” Ms. Cowan says.
As for Carol’s resume, since she isn’t a new graduate, Ms. Cowan suggests moving the education section to the bottom of her resume. She should also add a section listing three to five highlights that demonstrate her expertise. “If possible, mention dollar amounts or percentages to quantify results,” advises Ms. Cowan. Carol can also add a ‘key skills’ section to list up to a dozen keywords that she hasn’t covered in her highlights or work experience. For Carol, some applicable keywords might be project co-ordination, logistics, cross-functional communication and creative problem-solving.
In Carol’s work-experience section, she should follow the STAR (also called PAR) format to describe the situation/task (the reason the job or project is needed), the actions taken and the results obtained.
Once her resume is updated, Carol should look to LinkedIn and refresh her profile. After that, she should reach out to old connections and let them know she’s looking for work. “LinkedIn is an excellent tool for research and reconnaissance,” Ms. Cowan says.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS
“Carol is at a crossroads in her career,” says FCB’s Sunil Sekhar. “The first step is to really understand what kind of role she’d find fulfilling and what industries might give her the kind of environment she’d thrive in.” Like Ms. Cowan, Mr. Sekhar suggests that Carol research industries of interest and then connect with people in those industries to learn more about them. “She should get more detailed insights into what skills are required, both technical as well as soft skills, so she can then tailor her resume to make herself more marketable for those roles.” While advertising was an industry of interest for Carol, it is suffering greatly from COVID-19 cutbacks. “When the economy goes down, one of the first things that clients cut is their advertising budget,” Mr. Sekhar explains. “This affects the job market in our industry and has created a glut in our labour market. There are many talented people who are out of jobs because of the economic conditions.”
Now isn’t the best time for someone like Carol to pivot into advertising. “She won’t have direct experience, and some hiring managers may not look at that favourably,” Mr. Sekhar admits. That said, Carol does have transferable skills that could support a transition into advertising when the industry has recovered. “She could pick up commercial-production skills at an agency quickly,” says Mr. Sekhar.
When it comes to Carol’s resume, Mr. Sekhar recommends adding an ambitious, aspirational career objective up top. “It should highlight where she sees her career going, and more specifically, what she’s looking for in her next role,” he says.
As Ms. Cowan has suggested, work experience should come before education and her role descriptions should follow the PAR (problem, action, result) method.
Mr. Sekhar says that all resumes should read like an ad, grabbing the hiring managers’ attention and drawing their eyes toward what to read first, what to read next, then compel them to take action and call the candidate in for an interview. “This can be done with the use of colour, font size, font style and white space to help what’s on the page stand out. Simple is better, with little bursts of colour.”
While a revamped resume will benefit Carol greatly, Mr. Sekhar reminds her to “network, network, network.
“She can’t rely purely on a resume to get a job, especially since she’s changing careers.”
THE NEW RESUME
Carol’s resume was already in a compact one-page format, which Mr. Sekhar commends. He also said the clean design was “easily digestible.” With his and Ms. Cowan’s help, Carol revamped her resume by moving the work experience section up top and education to the bottom. She has also added a title and career objective, along with listing a few of her skills in keywords. A simple, colourful template helps to modernize Carol’s resume. She’s still working on adding a highlights section, fleshing out her skills section with more keywords and refining her career objective once she’s done more research into potential jobs of interest. “It was a lot harder updating my resume than I thought,” Carol admits.
INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RESUME REVIEWED?
Email us with your resume 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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