Title: Determine why you aren't getting the interviews you want
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Dear Sam: I am 57 years old and was downsized in February after almost 9 years on the job. I suspect the lack of interviews I have received relates directly to my résumé. My previous income was $70K with a $7K car allowance and all of my gas paid for. I have been a hiring manager, so I know a lot of applications require you to present a salary history; when providing this information, I am afraid this is pricing me out of the market. What do you suggest? - Art
Dear Art: When you are required to submit a salary history, be sure your previous salaries are placed on your résumé and not on a separate sheet of paper, which would allow for quick disqualification based on an assumption of desired compensation. I actually suspect, however, that your résumé is hurting you in more areas than that. From taking a look at your résumé, I can see you haven't done your experience justice. It's good that you haven't included all of your professional positions; instead, you have included a nice listing of those held more recently. My concern, however, is that you have described, in one section of your résumé, a 10-year position with 8 words. Even your most recent 9-year position was only afforded 51 words. How can the reader see "value" when you only give those long-term positions that much space on a piece of paper? Please take another look at your content, take time to explore-and quantify-your accomplishments, and use your résumé to take the reader through the journey of your career as you climbed the ladder from assistant to regional manager. I think when you really develop your résumé, you will find your phone isn't quite so quiet.
Dear Sam: I am a self-taught artist. I am very passionate about art and design and continue to learn every day, but feel the lack of any college studies and a degree are preventing me from getting a good design job. I know as much, if not more, than a college graduate about art and design, but don't know how to communicate that. How can I do this, and what do I put on my résumé in the education section? - Sam G.
Dear Sam G.: I can feel the frustration in your words, and while there is little you can do when a degree is a staunch requirement for a position, there is a lot you can do on your résumé to ensure you are the candidate that stands out regardless of your academic background.
First, I hope your résumé looks fantastic, meaning you designed something unique and eye catching to really showcase your design talents. Your résumé should be a representation of who you are as a creative, showcasing some of your work, coupled with great content, to really minimize the impact of the potential disqualifier. From taking a peek at your websites, I can see you are very talented in many forms of design; maybe this could be your key selling point. If you develop a résumé that presents your vast design talents (print and web, illustration and computer graphics, etc.), really highlights your notable professional and freelance engagements, and also presents a little of your personality, your experience is sure to jump off of the page! Be a tad conservative in the overall design of your résumé, just to ensure you don't offend anyone who doesn't share a right-brained style of thinking, but definitely showcase your talents through an amazing aesthetic and possibly a snapshot portfolio. In regards to your question of what to include in the education section, change this section to a "Strengths & Style" section and use it to note all of the programs and techniques you have taught yourself over the years. Don't include anything about not having a degree; it is entirely likely the reader may not even realize a degree is missing when presented with a great-looking, well-written résumé. By following this strategy, you will only present reasons to bring you in for an interview, not reasons to disqualify you from going further in the process. I wish you great success.
Do you have a question for Dear Sam? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Samantha Nolan owns Ladybug Design, a résumé writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call (888) 9-LADYBUG (888-952-3928) or visit www.ladybug-design.com.