Dear Sam: I have been involved with computers since I can remember, from personal use to professionally fixing or upgrading them, but I have never taken it seriously enough for a career choice … until now.
Three years ago, I was working as a freight train conductor when I stepped on a faulty brake platform and fell 15 feet to suffer a traumatic brain injury.
I spent the next year not remembering anything, not knowing who was around me, and not able to execute basic everyday functions.
After one year, I went from not being able to walk, to running on a treadmill; not being able to speak, write, or read, to excelling with ease. It is clearly etched that I have overcome a lot of adversity.
After numerous cognitive therapy sessions and sheer determination, I have worked my brain back into the workforce. Last fall, I secured a job with a vending machine company filling machines with product. I really like the people I work for, but sadly, it is not my passion.
My background is a rather versatile picture of varying career shifts due to the economy. I have experience in music, transportation, administrative support, and IT.
Starting in January, I went back to school and now major in IT Network Administration — happily reporting, after two quarters, I have a 4.0 GPA.
I am now heavily pursuing any form of employment in the IT field. After taking a few of your résumé workshops, I sculpted my résumé to an “OK” status, but realizing that the job market is vicious yet always looking for IT people, can I get help from your world of what I am sure is made of crazy busy status?
I hope to hear from you as I continue to attack the job market in search for my dream job. – Chris
Dear Chris: What an incredible journey you have had Chris; I am so excited about the success you have worked so hard to achieve in your recovery.
From looking at your résumé, I can see you have deployed an ultra-creative approach, and I applaud your efforts. You have taken your résumé far beyond what most candidates achieve, in terms of taking an out-of-the-box approach to market an out-of-the-box journey.
Let me provide some insight into opportunities for improvement.
Reprioritize the focus of your résumé
Currently, you have a two-column résumé with your profile, a bulleted list of core skills all focused on your IT abilities, and a career highlights section with your transportation industry experience and early tenure as a technology coordinator with a cable company.
In the narrower right-hand column, you present additional experience including current involvement with the vending company you mentioned, and earlier experience which occurred prior to your transportation industry experience.
So, what you have is sort of a mixed-up list of experiences that, based on placement of information, make it appear that you haven’t been involved professionally since 2009.
Present relevant not recent experience
In a résumé in which a candidate needs to focus on relevant, not recent, experience, I typically use the combination format.
In this format — which presents career highlights before the chronology of one’s experience — you could showcase experience from your early technology coordinator role, your involvement in IT on a personal and professional level, the key projects you engaged in during school, and the coursework you are currently completing.
The majority of your résumé — at least the majority of your résumé that will be screened during the initial scan — would then speak to the IT field. This would allow your lesser-related transportation industry experience to fall to the bottom of page one on your résumé.
Provide the right amount of work history
Currently you are presenting your experience from 1986, showcasing a 26-year career, all of which occurred outside of IT.
When you present so much experience, particularly as you are attempting to position yourself for an entry-level IT role, you tell potential employers that you are potentially overqualified, not rightly qualified, or perhaps too expensive.
Instead, I encourage you to maintain your one-page format — appropriate for an entry-level candidate — and leverage the transferability of your experience from 1998 forward.
By doing this, you will present three solid positions which, when coupled with your career highlights section showcasing your IT involvement, will round out a solid one-page résumé.
Highlight key qualifiers
Currently, I do not see your educational pursuits listed on your résumé. Despite being relatively early in your journey toward a degree in IT Network Administration, you should still present the academic qualifications you will possess.
To do this, simply list your college, the degree you are pursuing, and your expected completion term and year. You should also mention your GPA as it is above a 3.5.
Once you present the value of your personal and professional involvement in the IT industry — albeit not as a full-time employee — combined with your educational pursuits, and the transferable skills from the past 10-12 years, I believe you will emerge as a much more competitive entry-level IT candidate.
Best to you in your journey.