One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Would you like resume advice from the experts? TheLadders.com Resume Service is here to help. Contact our experts directly, or if you’re feeling lucky, send us your resume for entry in our Does My Resume Stink contest to win a complimentary rewrite.
This month’s winner is a corporate legal executive with a proven track record in contract and intellectual property for major entertainment companies.
This month’s contest winner has established an impressive record as an executive vice president for major entertainment industry companies, including NBC, ABC and Buena Vista Television. Most recently, she even took on the role of president at a startup. However, the resume she submitted seriously underrepresented her major-league qualifications in legal and business affairs. Once we started digging into her background, we learned that she was multilingual and had earned degrees that she’d failed to champion. These traits can be the difference-maker.
Here are the flags we encountered along the way and the techniques we used really to make her case with a new resume:
Industry affiliations can open doors.
To create a connection with hiring managers and better target the roles our EVP is seeking, we put her law degree and membership in the California Bar right at that the beginning. Those fundamentals were conspicuously absent from the old resume’s introduction.
Since she had neglected to include her professional affiliations on her old resume, we brought them into the new resume along with the fact that she speaks four different languages – a definite benefit that was ignored in the old resume. Language skills, especially at the executive levels, can be a huge payoff for candidates and should be mentioned. We were able to include both the affiliations and the language skills without extending the resume beyond two pages.
Meanwhile, we added a core-competencies section to the top half of the resume to pull in specific keywords such as “Guild and Labor Union Relations” and “Cost Controls” – two very important qualifications in today’s economic environment. The core competencies section serves as a built-in keyword optimizer, and it provides a section that is easy to read.
Jargon is a stop sign for readers.
Within the content of the resume itself, we cleaned up the wording of the job descriptions to eliminate convoluted phrasing and overly long laundry lists of skills. We added more relevant accomplishments for each position to enhance her potential value to employers. Clear wording with clear outcomes and achievements are vital to a resume’s success.
Self-employment needs to be aligned with career goals.
Her current position stood out like a sore thumb as a seemingly unrelated foray into self-employment. We worded it to show what she really did in the position to help this company get off the ground and on the right track, using skills that are valuable and sought by employers. As a result, the position is an asset to her resume rather than a detriment.
Another venture into a “consulting” position in the 1993-1995 time period wasn’t helpful to her current career goals. We eliminated both problems by limiting the new resume: detailing her work only back to 1995 and then truncating her earlier work with Warner Brothers and other employers.
Formatting should de-emphasize dates and highlight roles.
Finally, the formatting of the old resume needed an update. She had used the large left-margin style, which emphasized dates because they were prominently featured in the margin. We changed that to a more balanced style that emphasized job titles and employers. We reformatted the content within each job as a paragraph/bullet combination rather than sets of indistinguishable bullets or lists. She also had an unfortunate page break right after NBC on the old resume that caused a break in that position between pages, an amateur design problem.
The end result is a resume that is sleek, professional and packed with powerful information that will position the client well in an industry where competition is cutthroat. She is ready to take on her job search with new energy and a new resume.