Baby Boomer prepares for layoff
Dear Sam: I have more than 25 years of experience in various customer/ guest service capacities. Although I stepped away from it for a couple of years, I realize how much I truly miss the interaction and the experience of helping people.
I have just been informed that I will be laid off from my present position in a few months. I'd very much like to return to the customer/guest services environment, but I don't want to give away my age (I'm over 50, but I don't look like it – LOL!) and I feel the format of my present résumé will bore a hiring manager to death!
Could you look at my résumé and provide some feedback? – S.H.
Dear S.H.: I am so sorry to hear about your impending layoff. In navigating those ever-so-important first steps leading up to or immediately following a layoff, figuring out what you want to do is so important.
Allow me to paint a picture of your résumé for readers. You open with your qualifications which is essentially a very brief overview of your administrative, technical, and soft skills. You move onto your education which contains your high school diploma (should never be on a résumé unless the candidate is extremely entry-level) and two college experiences without any listing of what was completed. Employment follows with each position being described with a paragraph of information. Your employment section spills to page two of your résumé with some additional positions being presented without descriptions of your roles. Your résumé ends with a brief listing of training programs completed.
I am glad you recognize that your current presentation of your career is not optimal. And yes indeed, as you suspected, I too feel, in its current format, that your résumé will be met with boredom, as it does nothing—neither through formatting nor content—to engage the reader. Let me point out the areas in which you really need to revise your résumé.
No dates paint a poor picture – I see so many résumés for candidates who are more than 50 years of age that are void of dates. This is probably one of the worst things you can do to your résumé. Not presenting dates does not avoid aging your candidacy; in fact, it probably paints a much worse picture than does reality. You must present dates—years only, no need for months—on your résumé in order for a hiring manager to understand the chronology of your career. Most hiring managers want to see about 10 years of professional history, so consider dating positions back through that timeframe and then perhaps bylining—making a note of early experiences without descriptions of your positions or dates—earlier roles without dates if you feel those foundational roles enhance your candidacy.
No prioritization of content – Your résumé reads like a biography of everything you were ever tasked with doing while at work. Each paragraph contains brief fragmented statements on select aspects of your role with no prioritization of what was most important and what was an expected part of your job. When a hiring manager screens your résumé, he/she is looking for the value you contributed in each of your roles in addition to a sense of the context in which that occurred. Without prioritization of responsibilities versus accomplishments, you are really hindering that screening process. Currently, I have no way to tell what you did in each of your roles that (1) was more important than anything else you did, (2) added value to your employer over and above your just doing your job, and (3) relates most to your current career target.
Go back through each of the engagements you are presenting and think about your position first in terms of your scope of work, and second in terms of how you did your job well. Perhaps only include your last 3 roles as this would likely present the expected 10 or so years of experience while capturing what appears to be—based on paragraph length—your most impressive and related role. In exploring your responsibilities and accomplishments, be sure to place your accomplishments in bullet points for added focus. Lastly, do not include everything you ever did; instead, apply the résumé writing role of “present the BIG and save the SMALL” to guide content inclusion and omission decisions.
I have presented (view full résumé on ) an example of a customer service résumé to help you visualize what a solid résumé should look like in your field. Take a peek at how the résumé opens with a qualifications summary, flows to a skills overview, and presents the candidate’s value throughout the professional experience section. I am confident, based on the experiences you have had in your career, that you can work toward a more optimal presentation.