3 Real Stories of Job Search Challenges – and the Resume Writing Strategies that Overcame Them

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October 22, 2021

CHALLENGE #1: Trying to Make an Industry/Career Change

Like so many, the pandemic was a wake-up call for Clara. After years of volunteering for causes near and dear — she took a leap and made a plan to leave her career in Corporate America and move into nonprofit. When writing her resume and LinkedIn, we worked to appeal to this new audience by focusing on 3 areas. These strategies can be applied readily with a time-saving ATS-friendly resume template.

Understand the Lingo

Every industry has a different way of expressing itself. In nonprofit, for instance — terms like “margin enhancement” aren’t used. Instead, use “cost savings.” There are many more.

Understand the Goals

Every industry has different end goals. Using Clara as an example, where revenues are the ultimate measure of success in the corporate world — in nonprofit donations and fundraising rules.

Understand the Painpoints

At the end of the day, companies face similar struggles (from using $$ and resources wisely to managing projects on-time and on-budget to elevating their brands) regardless of industry.

Use stories to show you understand their struggles and how you’ve solved similar ones in the past. Here’s an example of a bullet point we included to show how her corporate leadership style was well-suited for nonprofit.

  • Earned top survey results for fostering culture of inclusivity, ensuring teams had resources and knowledge necessary to feel engaged and empowered both pre- and post-COVID, and to operate without business disruption.

The bottom line?

It’s critical to become familiar with the organization or industry. You can do this by reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and reaching out to people in the know!

CHALLENGE #2 Lackluster Recent Performance

Erik had been a rock-star with a history of solving problems, putting out fires and growing revenues. Then 2019 happened – and Erik was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. While Erik continued to work, his numbers weren’t stellar.

Then 2020 happened and his industry took a beating during COVID, his company restructured and laid people off. His numbers weren’t stellar.

He was worried that the past 2 years would impact his ability to get hired.

By providing context around the events of 2019 and 2020, we were able to tell a story of against-the-odds success. Here’s how:

The Story for 2019:  Even though Erik’s numbers didn’t look that great — his employee survey results were out of this world. In fact, they exceeded both industry and company benchmarks.

This is the story we told.

The Story for 2020: While his numbers weren’t great, they were way better than those of other divisions in his company. Moreover, he managed to retain 100% of his customers where his competitors hadn’t.

This is the story we told.

The bottom line?

The numbers don’t always tell the real story and the real story can be powerful.

CHALLENGE #3: Worried About Appearing Too Old on a Resume Template

Megan worried that disclosing her full career history would subject her to age discrimination. Eliminate it and she feared this key experience would be discounted and pigeon-hole her as a one-industry HR person.

To make things more complex, after working with top-tier companies as an HR Business Partner back in the late 1980 through mid-1990s, she’d left the workforce for 14 years before returning to work full/time in 2011.

As a professional resume writer, here’s the strategy we employed that I recommend applying when using any resume template:

1) Impress the reader with a bit of “name dropping,” — referencing her work for these top-tier companies in the Summary section at the top of Page One on her resume.

2) Highlight industry diversity by creating an “Additional Career Experience” section where we listed the earlier roles and the job titles she held.

3) Rather than list the month/years of hire we left them off.

Wells Fargo • HR Business Partner
Boeing Aerospace • Employee Relations Manager
Dell • HR Generalist

The bottom line?

An earlier experience section can help your resume template appear timeless – because no one needs to know if you’re 35 or 75 when reading it!

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About the author

Virginia Franco

I am a multi-certified Executive Resume and LinkedIn Writer, Coach and Storyteller who loves to create documents that help clients to land interviews.

I share my insights as the host of the award-winning Resume Storyteller podcast, a Jobscan Top Careers Expert and in various publications and podcasts.

I'm a proud Supporter, Board Member and former President of the National Resume Writers Association.