Craft your resume to play up skills, experience

I hear from a lot of nervous job hunters. They worry about big, life-changing issues like the economy, the state of local businesses and securing work in a crowded market. They also wring their hands over smaller, more personal topics. Some job seekers over-think every line of content in their resumes. Others spin themselves into a frenzy about choosing which shoes to wear to interviews.

Yes, every job hunter seems to have at least one hot-button issue that raises his or her blood pressure above the boiling point. What’s yours?

Are you concerned that your former boss will give you a bad reference? Embarrassed that you accepted a low-level position just to pay your bills? Kicking yourself over taking a year-long break from the workplace in an unpredictable economy?

Once you identify the specific issue that keeps you up at night, you can find a solution. The result? Your anxiety will dissipate. Your confidence will be restored. And you’ll be able to concentrate on what really matters: moving forwarding with courage and a sense of adventure as you advance your career.

Here is an example:

Let’s say that you were laid off in 2009 and it took two years to land a job. You’re obsessed over the black hole in the middle of your resume. You envision hiring managers crumbling up your career goals and tossing them in the trash. This kind of fear can hinder your job search. It’s time to take action.

Begin by reformatting your resume so the employment break is less prominent. Emphasize company names and accomplishments, and tuck in the dates of each position beside each job title (rather than against the right-side margin, where they would stand out).

Next, prepare to discuss the employment gap in a brief, forthright way during interviews. Focus on positive details, like this: “My old company faced some challenges when the economy turned. It took time to find the right job, but the moment I landed a position, I hit the ground running. Since last year, I completely revamped the corporate web site and launched the e-commerce business from scratch, generating substantial new revenue.”

Here’s another example:

You’re an experienced bank manager who accepted a role in fast food operations during the recession. You’re worried that employers will shun you because of your current job.

Again, refine your resume so it works for you (not against you). In your case, do not use bolded text or all-capital letters for the company name. Highlight your job title and transferrable skills instead.

Then, come up with an explanation for interviews. Try this: “I’m the kind of person who loves showing up to work each day. When banks were hit hard by the recession, I refused to sit back and wait for things to change. I took a position that kept my skills sharp as a dedicated, hands-on manager. I learned a lot, but this industry doesn’t feel like home to me. I’m excited to return to banking where I can draw on my solid experience and genuine passion for the field.”

Identify what bothers you and tackle it head on. Diffuse it. Take the power out of it. With a solution in place, fear and anxiety can’t hold you back.

Eve Nicholas:

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