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The Path – When there’s no “Path” to your Career Path

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 22, 2011 in Career Path, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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Those of us who reach a certain age with a resume full of professional disconnects are going to be in for a hard sell.  If you’ve cut a path through the jungle over the years, it’s OK if that path has a lot of twists and turns as long as it gets you from A to Z without encountering flooded rivers or giant waterfalls.  But if your path starts under this tree and then stops one hundred yards away, only to continue from a fresh starting point over on the other side of yonder savannah, it’s going to be tough to get a recruiter to talk to you.

There are several posts on this site that talk about assembling relevant experience to address this sort of issue; my suggestion is that you turn your resume into a theme park with clusters of job experience wrapped around a single skill set, such as marketing or advertising or regulatory affairs or whatever fields you’ve delved into more than once.  I’m assuming that you’re a serial career changer like me, with the resume of a dilettante.

To me the resume and cover letter is all about getting in the door.  What I have gotten results with on a couple of occasions is a resume that stakes my profession firmly in the ground where the recruiter is searching, and then leading with all of the experience I had with the various employers I’ve worked for.  I generally flat list prior employment companies and titles, going back as far as I think is necessary to establish my credentials.  Then I’ll list my accomplishments by function: twelve years of marketing experience in this role for Company A, five years as marketing director for Company B, providing marketing analysis for Company C.

The next mini-paragraph might list my accomplishments in advertising: managing the annual media buy for Company A, closing X deals with product distributors for Company B, launching the online sales and marketing effort  for Company C fifteen years ago.  And the following cluster might talk about another skill that I’ve developed as the result of employment requirements: working with governmental agencies on policy and rules as they relate to my employer.

All of that adds up to what I discuss in the cover letter, which is management in multiple environments for various functions involving public and commercial outreach.  Given the hand I’ve dealt myself – working with media companies, for mayors in two major American cities, for a professional baseball team, for a multimedia development startup – that’s the closest I can come to a thematic approach that (hopefully) shows a path through the jungle with one stretch connected to another.  And what I’ve found is that the more programmatic HR professionals will hit the delete button, but the recruiter who is intrigued by such a mix of experience might just give me a call.

This guest post is contributed by Bob Hartzell. Bob has been writing for five years about education and other life essentials on a variety of websites.  He writes about continuing education, career oriented degrees, both the baccalaureate and the graduate degree online, in recognition of the fact that the job market has undergone tremendous changes in the last twenty years.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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