Top Stories

  • Plan for and avoid potential disqualifiers

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jul 11, 2014

    Dear Sam: I read your article titled "Is it my age?" and it hit home. I know you are probably bombarded with emails requesting assistance and suggestions with respect to résumés, but I thought I would give it a try. I will be 65 years old in September, have worked all of my life, and am still in good health. Most people find it hard to believe I will be 65 soon! I was told you should include only the last 10 years of your career on a résumé; but if I do that, it will appear I did nothing before 2008 since the majority of my work career (i.e., 36 years) was spent at one company. I did tone down my résumé (1972-2008) to focus on administrative support, since that is the type of employment I

  • You only need one job

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Thu, Jul 3, 2014

    Dear Sam: I am struggling with my job search. As a business owner, I have spent the past 20 years doing everything and then some: from developing a business plan and securing funding, to washing the dishes and taking out the trash! How do I craft a resume that reflects that diversity? I am overwhelmed by the choices I have at this juncture in my career. Selling my business and planning on relocating to a new city, I am starting over and find myself drawn to a multitude of opportunities.

  • Dig deeper to differentiate your candidacy

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jun 27, 2014

    Dear Sam: I read your column and find myself in the same boat as the girl who wrote to you about tying to find a receptionist position. I have had two interviews for one particular position but have not heard back from the employer. I was wondering if you could look over my resume and tell me if you have any suggestions on where I could find a better template? – Ashleigh   Dear Ashleigh: I urge you to not only completely revamp your résumé—as it is outdated, especially for a young candidate—but to truly determine what value you offer, how you are different, and what is unique about your candidacy.

  • Creating a transferable image

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2014

    Meet Brenda Brenda came to me with some major concerns about the résumé she had developed, stating, “I’m just a little ‘lost’ in the ‘employment whirlpool’ of today's market. As mentioned, my résumé does not reflect my many years of management experience, in addition to other past employment. I was advised by many to keep my résumé as brief as possible, meaning no more than two pages. In addition, the majority of my past management employment consisted of retail positions—quite dated at the infancy of my career—so I am not sure how to highlight my management experience without dating myself.

  • Resume Makeover

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jun 13, 2014

    Meet Steve Steve came to me with an existing résumé that lacked appeal. Not based on where he had worked or what he had accomplished, but simply due to content and formatting selections. His original résumé opened with a list of professional qualifications which spilled into some fragmented bullet points providing a handful of words on his skills and experiences. In the experience section to follow, Steve had presented only bullet points for each of his engagements, making a “scan” of his background virtually impossible as there was seemingly no prioritization to each list.

  • Marketing your candidacy in a different light

    BY SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Thu, May 15, 2014

    Dear Sam: I read your column each week and have learned so much from reading about others' resume dilemmas, but I have never seen a question like mine.   I am in my 20th year of public service and find that what was once exciting and challenging is no longer such. I have enclosed my resume hoping you will discuss how to make it look as fantastic as the ones I see in your column each week. I have never really needed a resume and have no idea how to highlight anything. I am beyond afraid that while working with grant- and taxpayer-funded programs, I have fallen sorely behind in all areas and no one in the private sector will want my skill set.

  • Candidate lands dream Fortune 500 job

    by SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Wed, Mar 12, 2014

    Meet Douglas! Douglas, a technical analyst, came to me having gained significant experience within a niche market, seeking to transition into an analyst or market research role. He had developed a two-page résumé which he felt could be improved on significantly. Original Strategy… Douglas’ original résumé consisted of a basic list of job duties. His résumé opened with his education section, despite not being a very recent graduate, and followed with his professional experience. In the professional experience section, he listed all of his duties in bullet points with very little white space to differentiate positions, promotions, or priorities.

  • Appropriate use of the functional format

    by Samantha Nolan | Updated: Fri, Feb 28, 2014

    Background Sandra came to me with a wealth of nursing experience and some major concerns: (1) Some of her most impressive experience occurred in the 1980s and 1990s; (2) Sandra was concerned that she would be competing against younger, less-experienced, and therefore potentially less expensive candidates;” (3) Sandra was seeking employment with a major health system and knew there would be hundreds of applicants for just one open position. Sandra provided me with nine pages of handwritten notes, most of which were a simple narration of employers’ names and locations, the titles Sandra held, and a few words about what she did in each setting.

  • Prioritizing content based on your career target

    by SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Feb 21, 2014

    Dear Sam: I am within my first five years post-undergrad. I am an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and a civilian employee with the government. I am contemplating making a move to the civilian sector; however, my combined military service and civilian occupations span many specialties. As an officer I have worked in logistics and public relations—in leadership roles—both stateside and in combat. As a civilian, I work in human resources and pay administration in a non-supervisory role. How and what should I include in my resume? – Laura Dear Laura: Wow, that is quite a diverse background! First, thank you for your service to our country. Now, to answer your question. What you should include versus omit depends completely on

  • Winter Makeover: Transferring skills to a new career

    by Samantha Nolan | Updated: Fri, Feb 14, 2014

    Meet Anna… Anna came to me seeking to transition from a successful insurance claims career to begin her journey as a practicing attorney. Graduating from law school in 2005, Anna made the decision to stay home to raise her young children, something she did for 4 years until returning to the claims field in 2010. Now, having recently passed the Bar, she was eager to be positioned for entry-level associate opportunities. Anna’s original resume… Anna’s original resume was a sea of black and white text that was neither engaging nor on-target. Page one of Anna’s original resume presented her legal and insurance information spanning 6 positions held between 1997 and 2013.

  • Winter Makeover

    by SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jan 31, 2014

    Meet Gail… Gail, a 2001 college graduate, had returned to school to complete an early childhood education teaching license so she could pursue her passion. Since 2008 she had been involved with a private preschool organization working within a Head Start program. With future funding uncertain, she decided to be proactive and seek a new opportunity in early childhood education. Gail’s original résumé… Gail’s original resume was very plain in design, written in the wrong voice—never write a resume in first person, instead use a passive voice—and lacked the enthusiasm or personality expected of an early childhood educator.

  • When money and responsibility aren’t what you want

    by SAMANTHA NOLAN | Updated: Fri, Jan 17, 2014

    Dear Sam: I have had a successful career in the accounting and finance sector, but for the past year I have been in a role that is management of a department outside of accounting. My current job is very stressful, has a very fast pace, and I want out. My ideal job is a non-supervisory role where I would be doing financial analysis, reporting, and accounting. I have decided that is what I love to do and want to go back. The problem is that I make a high salary and my career path would logically lead to upper management. Money and responsibility aren't everything and I am very unhappy. How should I present myself in my resume and cover letter to positions that I want to apply for. – B.