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Successfully making a career change

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Published: May 25, 2012
Meet Emma

Emma came to me seeking to make a career transition. She had worked in the telecom industry for 10 years in administrative, provisioning, and technical support roles, but was seeking to transition into her industry of choice.

Five years earlier Emma had completed her undergraduate degree in criminology with the intention of going into the field of law in some capacity. Given she was performing well at work and had six years of tenure at that point, it became difficult for her to decide when to make her move.

When Emma came to work with me she was nearing completion of a paralegal studies program, would graduate in two months, and was seeking to build a résumé that would help facilitate her move into her field of choice.

The strategy

Given Emma was going to be competing for entry-level roles, I had to be careful how I presented her 10-year career.

While at one level her experience would be a key differentiating factor — when she competed against candidates with very limited work experience — it could also be a potential disqualifier given an employer may assume Emma had higher than average compensation requirements and would be seeking entry into the field at a higher level.

To combat these assumptions a résumé had to be developed which portrayed the uniqueness of Emma’s experience and skills, while also painting a competitive picture as a junior-level candidate.

Page One vs. Page Two

A key way to tell Emma’s story was to use two pages for her résumé. On Page One, I painted a competitive picture for an entry-level candidate, using Page Two to tell the story of Emma’s 10-year career in the telecom industry.

Page One was used to convey a strong qualifications summary which positioned Emma as a paralegal and legal assistant candidate, utilizing her experience in a law practice, along with her coursework, to sell her knowledge of the legal field.

After the summary, I listed her education — given she was a soon-to-be paralegal program graduate — which also allowed for presentation of her undergraduate degree in criminology, a credential which would likely be a key differentiating factor in her search.

Next, and these sections were included strategically on page one to “fill” the page, I listed Emma’s academic honors and legal affiliations. This allowed for just enough room at the end of page one to present Emma’s paralegal internship, ending Page One with strong, related experience.

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