Spotlight Resumes, LLC offers professional resume writing services, LinkedIn summaries, cover letters and job search strategy sessions for college students, job seekers, career changers and career climbers across the US. In today's market, a resume that's chock full of impressive career milestones is not enough. It needs to be targeted for the job you want, formatted for the tracking software and appealing to the human eye. It's hard to hit all the marks on your own and it's even harder to sift through all well-meaning advice you receive when you're in job search mode. In our experience, nothing takes the place of a professionally written document that clearly outlines why you're a match for the position you're targeting. Owner, Tava Auslan is a certified Resume Writer and Career Counselor with experience in every industry from dancers, designers and digital marketers to healthcare and aerospace engineers.
I’ve always been a non-conformist. My high school voted me “most unique.” I sang and played guitar in bands throughout my teens, danced on various stages since the age of 5 and pushed the boundaries of personal style with only a handful of fashion regrets. But I’ve also kept one hand in the pragmatism jar the entire time.
I have a genuine love for assessing what is possible with grounded, measured and practical thinking. This is the yin to my yang. Bold in my art and practical in my career. This translates to a unique value for my clients and allows me to switch between the two hats as needed. Raised in a family that valued education, I happily earned my BA in Psychology and MS, Ed. in Counseling. After completing a two-semester externship in the Career Development office at New School University, I was hired full-time. There, at the epicenter of creative thinking, I worked with musicians, actors, artists, writers and emerging leaders in global policy. I enjoyed this work tremendously, but it also planted a seed.
As the seed grew roots, I made the bold decision to pursue a career as a dancer. I studied anatomy, injury prevention and kinesiology, pouring myself into movement. I became a small business owner, selling services of instruction, choreography, traditional or theatrical performances, started a dance company and built a reputation that I am very proud of. Along the way, I became a mentor for budding dance professionals where I continue to offer career guidance and personal branding strategy.
At present, I also work as the senior coach at Careerfolk where I serve clients of all ages and stages. I started Spotlight Resumes in order to offer targeted job search correspondence for recent grads through mid-level professionals. Career coaching and crafting compelling narratives for my clients is the perfect outlet for my practical side.
Is it ok to have gaps? Yes it is.
Many resumes will have gaps. It's a fact of modern life that at some point, millions of people will stop working to raise a family, care for a sick relative, make a career change, etc... Very capable people get laid off, fired or their businesses fail and they need to become an employee after being their own boss.
What matters more is your honesty and ownership of it. I've been on hiring committees where it was determined after a basic check that the interviewee was dishonest about their work history and they were immediately excluded. Rule of thumb is that you should expect to talk about it and just be straightforward. Hiring managers would rather hear that you were committed to caring for someone at the end of life, seized an opportunity to travel or had children if you speak about it with a sense of purpose or emphasize how it benefited you/your family.
If you're relying on applying to jobs online for your search, applicant tracking software is not as forgiving as a human in terms of ranking your resume. If the gap is 6 months or longer, there are a few strategies you can use and they vary by situation. One strategy is to "cover" the gap with something like, "Operations Management Professional, 2018-Present. Senior Operations Management Professional looking to re-enter workforce after being primary caretaker for ill family member. During this period, I became certified in..../volunteered as business mentor.../etc. Another strategy is to address this in your cover letter. The software is scanning your job titles so you want to find a way to maintain continuity there without being dishonest.
As for chronology, you can highlight certain experiences and accomplishments from previous roles at the top but don't make it clunky and deviate too far from a chronological style. We used to call that a "functional resume" but hiring managers and software aren't happy when it goes too far off the preferred format. A good value proposition should do the trick.
Do I really need a resume? Yes.
Isn't it more about who you know? Also, yes.
Let me explain.
The resume is a networking document, not a chronology of your entire work experience. Its job is to help the reader understand the unique value you bring to a position or company. Whether you plan to upload your resume to various job search sites or just shop it around to people you know, it's still a necessary first (sometimes 2nd) step in helping people decide if you're a good fit for an opportunity.
I've had clients who were approached on LinkedIn first, but then asked to send a resume before their interview. I've also spoken with hiring managers, recruiters and contacts in creative industries that only hire by word of mouth who say that the resume is particularly useful for narrowing down finalists. They want to see the contenders at a glance.
In short, the resume is here to stay. But it should not only be used when applying to open positions. It should be sent to friends, former colleagues, target companies and professional contacts to increase your chances of being spotted in the hidden job market.it.
Here's some context before I dig in to this question. As someone who is presently a dancer and career counselor/resume writer, I've also earned income as a content writer, weekend pet sitter, early childhood educator and office manager over the years. This is what life looks like for a lot of adults I know. I don't need to share everything I've done but I do need to know what is relevant for my target audience/target job. The same applies to you.
Here's what I recommend to my clients with a hopscotch career history:
1. Focus on your skills: If you're clear on your target career goal, sift through your experience and see where you can draw parallels. If you were a caterer, you likely did a lot of client relationship management, anticipated needs in a fast-paced environment or may even have experience with bookkeeping for small business. Solid transferable skills are worth including.
2. Consider an "Early Career" section where you can list the basic details of previous roles to show prospective employers that you were, in fact, working before you entered your current field.
3. For LinkedIn and Interviews, learn how to tell your story and focus on the lessons learned or ah ha moments that led you to the next chapter. Own it. Don't apologize for it. For example: I often talk about how my work as a preschool teacher led me to pursue a Masters in Counseling. It was during those one on one moments with parents or children where I really thrived. I wanted to sink my teeth in to the work that helped people push through specific barriers and achieve a goal.
4. Know you're not alone: People change careers on average three to seven times. We're not robots. We want to expand our skills sets, be challenged, get out of our comfort zones and contribute in meaningful ways as we get to know ourselves better. Rock that career diversity!
In short, yes.
LinkedIn is a highly visible platform that may help you grow your network by connecting with people at your target institutions or by being active in local/relevant groups. It also "feeds" Google by linking your name with your services offered (a boost to your SEO). But it's not generally a platform where people like to receive solicitations or sales messages so you'll want to be very tactful in how you reach out to people that you don't know personally. Think of LinkedIn like a formal cocktail party, whereas Facebook is a bit more like a BBQ.
My advice is to ask for introductions from shared connections whenever possible and get to know the platform a bit before posting. Having a professional, high resolution profile photo/headshot and a well written summary that clearly outlines your experience and program offerings is a great way to start.
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