Tweak to the Target When Changing Careers

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Glenn Menard wants a career in project management after more than 30 years as a carpenter.

First, Menard needs to clarify his target job, said Kimberly Bowen, a career and life coach with Career Life Designs in Arnold who works primarily with people considering major career changes. "You should have the target in mind, make sure you qualify for it, then write your résumé," she said. Right now, the résumé reads as if "there wasn't a plan."

One area that needs immediate attention: updating his computer skills. It isn't enough to acknowledge in his cover letter that he needs to do this. He must show that he has the necessary skills to apply for the job.

Next, Bowen said, Menard should pull his résumé into a concise format highlighting the skills and accomplishments that are relevant to prove he can do that job.

Bowen suggests starting with a "Professional Profile" section to summarize background and expertise.

Next, Menard should include a "Work Experience" section, starting with his most recent job. "For older [people] or people with job gaps, minimize years by including them to the right of the page or eliminating them if older than 15 to 20 years."

Under each job, Menard should highlight at least three of his accomplishments, "starting each statement with a skill, such as managed, taught, designed."

What needs to go: any references to himself in the first person, the interests and references section, and references to older dates. "You don't want to indicate your age because people do discriminate against that."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company