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Getting Back On The Career Track

Resume-Writing Strategies for People Re-Entering the Workforce

19744880_sJanice was re-entering the workforce after a lengthy career break due to family commitments, and during the early stages of her first appointment it was apparent that she was really quite disheartened about her prospects of securing a role similar to her last paid employment.

Five years ago, Janice had been in an executive support role for a CEO of a large high profile accounting firm, where she was responsible for managing the entire office, performing diverse personal assistant, administrative and secretarial functions, while directly responsible for three secretarial staff. Not long after getting married and starting a family, Janice made the decision to put her career on hold in order to raise her children, and now with the youngest at school, she was ready to re-establish her career.

Reluctantly, she had begun the process of writing her own resume, however after what seemed like reams of wasted paper, and numerous pencils sharpened to the stub, she came to see me in sheer frustration.

It is truly rewarding working with these clients; the challenge of not only developing their career documents, but also coaching them to understand and appreciate their relevant skills and experience, and observing a client’s enthusiastic reaction to their new document-priceless. This new sense of worth not only contributes to their overall renewed enthusiasm towards their job search/career design but can also empower them within the interview process.

So, how does one go about collating relevant information that would depict these clients as marketable employees with skills and achievements that offer value to an organization? And help get them back on the career track?Generally, during the interview process, by asking the right questions and understanding the areas that can hold a potential goldmine of information will often uncover some excellent facts with which to incorporate into their marketing documents.

The following information was obtained during my interview with Janice, where initially her response had been that she had no particular achievements or significant contributions to offer. By requesting that she provide additional information and further examining her responses, we were able to unearth some excellent, marketable accomplishments.

Janice had been President of the local kindergarten for a two-year period, however due to this being within a voluntary capacity she thought it would have no relevance to her career. How wrong she was! The committee consisted of six members, so within the role of president, not only had Janice demonstrated leadership qualities, but an ability to facilitate a collaborative team environment, providing encouragement and support to each member to contribute their unique ability toward the successful operation of the kindergarten.

With Janice at the helm, the committee had successfully fund-raised $15,000, some $12,000 more than previous committees; had sourced, established and forged strategic relationships with local businesses and other community groups who were now providing regular donations and sponsorships with BBQs, fairs and other special events run by the kindergarten; and had reduced advertising expenditure by 80% through successful negotiations with local printing companies.

Janice’s administrative background had certainly contributed to other areas of the organization as well; she streamlined the filing systems; led the conversion of the computer system from an old outdated system, to an updated high-tech system (that didn’t take two cups of coffee and a walk-around-the block before loading up to the start menu); and spearheaded the introduction of a computerized accounting package that controlled the kindergartens’ entire financial information, budgets and financial reporting which has previously all been performed by hand. She also provided training on the new software package to the treasurer, with ongoing support as required, to ensure that the system was operating smoothly and was being utilized correctly.

This information had already provided excellent transferable competencies, however Janice had also successfully completed short-courses and achieved certifications within information technology, time-management and administration, certainly relevant to her career. The final examination mark attained ranged in the top 2% of her class, another great achievement. Also this area could demonstrate Janice’s desire to keep her technological knowledge current and an ongoing commitment to expanding her skills.

Unknowingly, Janice had a goldmine of information that would look impressive on any resume, and with the correct formatting and dynamic wording it would spark the attention of any recruiter or business executive.

So now, which format should we utilize to present this wealth of information that markets these competencies, and the value they offer, in the best possible way? In Janet’s case, rather than utilizing the more conventional reverse chronological format for her resume, a functional style was more appropriate.

A professional profile provided a powerful 3-4-paragraph overview of her expertise, with further verifiable evidence of her experience and achievements under the headings of: Executive Support / Personal Assistant; Management / Operations / Business Administration; Key Strengths; Accomplishments.

Following this information came the Professional Experience detailing the organizations to which she had contributed her knowledge and abilities, encompassing the last 10-15 years, giving an overview of the scope of responsibilities, with key achievements bulleted beneath each paragraph. Even though her latest contributions were within a voluntary capacity, we could still demonstrate her leadership qualities and coordination/management aptitudes to develop and implement strategies that accomplished verifiable results.

Janice’s response to her resume was extremely fulfilling and with a dynamic career document in hand, she was ready to market herself back into the workforce.

For people who are returning to the workforce, you may also be able to uncover excellent data from the following:

  • Establishing, growing and operating their own business (although rather than disclosing Owner, the title Manager would be more appropriate.
  • Volunteering on local church committees; school committees; dance groups committees; soccer/football committees; community organizations? – What role did they play? What accomplishments did the committee contribute? Did they organize any special or fundraising events? Were there any problems that were resolved? Did they make any suggestions or contributions that had a significant (or any) impact on how the organization was operating?
  • School involvement; Regular volunteer/contributor/reader within the classroom; interacting and supporting children with learning/sporting activities; or implemented remedial learning initiatives to assist challenged students. Assisted teacher with preparation of class materials. Served on the Parent & Teachers’ Association,; in which capacity? Again, in which way did they contribute/collaborate/initiate fresh ideas?
  • Part-time work (even if on a voluntary basis) and helping within a family members’ business – no need to disclose that this was a family member or friend, just list the contributions, scope of responsibilities and achievements.

By strategically scripting and formatting the above information, can certainly add credibility and marketable information for your resume.


About Annemarie Cross

Annemarie Cross is a Personal Branding Strategist & Business Coach supporting women entrepreneurs build a powerful authentic brand and reputation as an authority in their niche so they can attract a constant stream of ideal high paying clients. She also works with women executives and professionals; helping them get noticed, promoted (and/or hired) and paid what they're worth for the value they bring to the workplace.


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