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Alternate resume format may be the key to a successful job hunt

Dear Joan:

I have worked contract assignments for the last seven years, which gave me the flexibility for my entertainment projects as a singer/actress. On the contract assignments, I worked my way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant and have worked for presidents of very large companies.

I am now a mature (48-not sure if this has anything to do with my challenges) and ready to set the entertainment work aside, for it has not produced what I had hoped, and resume permanent employment. But I have been unsuccessfully looking for the last two years.

A headhunter once told me that employers hire those who have had at least five years at the same company. I don’t want to lie but I have thought about saying that I have worked for someone I know who has his own company. However, a lot of the experience that I have gotten from my various assignments would not be convincing (at this person’s company).

Do you have any suggestions on what to do to secure good, permanent employment?


Telling a lie may get you in the door but it will also get you booted out the door, if they ever find out, and then your job prospects will get even dimmer. And it would be a shame, since the advice you received is not totally accurate.

Employers are looking for someone who shows some stability and progressive responsibility. But the rules have changed considerably regarding what is considered “stable.” Many companies are struggling to recruit qualified workers and when they hire someone, they are lucky if they can keep them. The timing is right for a mature, responsible person who wishes to make a commitment.

It seems to me that you have plenty to work with, but you are probably not marketing yourself to your best advantage.

Here are some steps to guide you:

Network with your former companies

The best place to look may be right under your nose. If you advanced up the ladder and worked for company presidents, you have good skills and a positive work record. Call up all the past managers and executives you’ve worked for and tell them that you are seeking permanent employment and that you have abandoned your singing/acting aspirations.

Ask them if they can direct you to anyone in their company who might be willing to give you some job hunting advice. If they take the time to talk with you, give you some names to contact, or send you to their HR department, it’s a good sign that they think you are good enough to recommend.

Also, contact the staffing agency that has been placing you, as well as other staffing agencies. Tell them you are ready to be placed into a permanent assignment. These organizations make money from permanent placement and they should be very willing to help you.

Package your experience with the right “spin”

Take a fresh look at your resume and ask some of the people in your network to give it a critical analysis. I suspect that you are listing your experiences as separate contract assignments and it looks like a hodgepodge of unrelated assignments, with no career progression.

Instead, imagine that each contract assignment represents one card in a deck. If you took the company names and dates off the deck and sorted your experience from least skilled to most skilled—for example receptionist jobs to executive level administrative jobs—you would see a steady progression of growth. This is how your work experience should be laid out in your resume.

When you worked these jobs can be left off and included in the interview. You may not what to list every job, so just pick out the ones that tell the best story of your experience. However, you may want to list some of the companies you have worked for at the end of the work experience section.

This kind of resume is called a “Functional Resume.” It positions your experience the way you want to list it, instead of in chronological order.

Speak results language

Compare these two resume/interview “languages:”

A.“I answered phones, typed correspondence, scheduled meetings and other duties as required.”

B.“After two weeks supporting the Manager of Operations, I was asked to fill in for the President’s administrative assistant, because of demonstrated organizational skills and ability to juggle multiple priorities and projects.”

Which language do you speak? If you’re not speaking B, you are going to be passed over for interviews. You must identify some of your best success mini-stories and prove to the reader why you are worth hiring. Include quotes people said about you, the skills you possess and the results you got. For example, “My agency told me, ‘I can always send you to the toughest assignments because I can trust you to do them well and fit in with the staff, too.’”

With the job market continuing to heat up for good employees, I suspect these changes will have you fielding multiple offers in no time.

Do you need answers to tough job hunting questions? Are you looking for some added punch to help you stand out from the crowd? Joan Lloyd’s has developed job hunting tools that can help you to maximize your job search:

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized training (leadership skills, presentation skills, internal consulting skills & facilitation skills), team conflict resolution and retreat facilitation.

Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (800) 348-1944,, or

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