Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve changed careers several times. I tried writing a chronological resume, but it looked patchy and made me appear to zig-zag.
I’ve been thinking about writing a skills resume, but I’m not sure how to do it well. Do I just prioritize my best skills and describe how I used them?
A: Dear Uneasy, Good for you for trusting your gut, which was telling you to get help.
You may have a number of different skills. Instead of listing them, write down what you accomplished in each job. That will give you the more powerful information.
Then group the accomplishments into like skills. That will become your paragraph or set of bullets. Think about how employers will be assessing them. Put the one they want most first and the second one last so you end that section on a strong point. Insert the others between them.
Your imaginative presentation of yourself may not appeal to all employers, most of whom prefer chronologies. Slip in a chronology near the bottom to be inclusive while de-emphasizing it. Look for employers who value creativity to increase the likelihood of your resume – and you – being well-received. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I need to job hunt, but I don’t have many contacts. There’s one customer at work I’ve had good conversations with. He’s in a company that sounds very interesting, but I’m afraid if I ask him to help me get an interview, someone here will find out and I’ll lose my job.
How can I ask for help without risking my paycheck?
A: Dear Nervous, Almost every step you take involves risk. If you’re really, really nervous about this problem, don’t go to the customer. Instead, contact another person at the company in a department where you’d like to work.
Has the customer seemed trustworthy to you? Has he ever shared confidential information about the company? Has he always spoken well of his boss, co-workers and others there? Does he seem happy there? Does he appear to respect you?
Stick your toe in the water. Indicate that you’d like to know more about the industry. Are there companies similar to his?
If you feel safer, say you’d like to find out more about his organization and ask for a person to contact. If he volunteers to be a go-between, you’ve hit the jackpot.