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Yesterday’s Hero

by Linda Matias

Wonder Woman makes it look so easy. She gets up every morning, fights the good fight, calls it a day, and starts the whole process all over again. This is the way most of us begin our workday. We work hard, accomplish lots, and get up in the morning for an encore presentation.

From childhood we were told that if we put 110% into our careers that we will be shoo-ins for promotions and raises. It sounded like an excellent plan and one that you easily bought into—hard work equals a big return on investment. Good deal.

Then one day you walk into your office only to discover that your position has been eliminated. Not through any fault of your own, but because the powers-that-be made an executive decision to reduce costs. At that moment, you quickly realize that not everything comes from hard work, and you are reluctantly thrown into the job search.

The Challenge
No matter how many awards you received and no matter how impressive your career progression, the old adage is true: “You’re only as good as your last sale.” And if you have been unemployed for a while, hiring managers may view your experience as being outdated. To your surprise, a search that you were convinced would take only a few weeks turned into a year-long process.

Since the resume is the first meeting between you and a prospective employer, the way you position your skills is critically important. This is especially true if you want the reader to overlook your unemployment gap and focus their attention on your successes.

If your resume fails to cleverly tackle red flags, the reader will eliminate your candidacy within seconds. With today’s job market, it is rare to find a jobseeker who has a flawless work history, and a traditional resume doesn’t always properly address the immediate concerns jobseekers are facing today.

The Solution
This is the reason why professional resume writers recommend a combination resume for those a) who have been unemployed for over a year who want to deemphasize an unemployment gap and b) those considering a career change who wish to highlight relevant marketable and/or transferable skills.

A combination resume integrates the best features of the functional and chronological resume formats. Similar to the functional resume, the combination resume emphasizes skills; and just like the chronological resume, the combination resume sequentially showcases your professional history.

Anatomy of a Combination Resume
The most basic format for a combination resume includes the following sections: Introduction, Accomplishments, Professional Experience, and Education. Below is a breakdown of each section.

Introduction

The opening of a resume serves as a teaser and is called a Career Summary, Professional Profile, or Summary of Qualifications. Whatever term you decide to use, the end result must sum up your value to the hiring organization. Let’s take a look at an example:

Goal-driven, tenacious sales and management professional demonstrating award-winning sales record in highly competitive industries. Strong leader and team player; excellent motivational skills to build and sustain forward growth momentum while motivating peak individual performance from members. Experience in managing all aspects of sales development cycle, from prospecting and cold calling through detailed presentations and negotiation to closing follow-up activities.

Notice that the example above provides the reader with a checklist of the candidate’s qualifications. From the onset, the reader has a feel for what the candidate can bring to the table.

Accomplishments

Since this section appears immediately after the introduction, it must keep the momentum going. This is your opportunity to showcase the fact that your experience is still relevant, you’re still in the game, and you are a serious candidate. Let’s look at a couple of accomplishment-based statements.

* Ranked consistently in top 5 company-wide for sales production among staff of 600+ brokers, bringing in $3.5 million in gross commissions during tenure.

* Contributed to success of supervised brokers through hands-on training and mentoring; led team that generated $13 million in commissions.

Notice that the statements are specific and target key achievements the candidate is most proud of.

Professional Experience

This section provides a chronological history of your experience along with a brief summation of your responsibilities. Here’s an example of how your professional history can appear.

Vice President, Bay Shore Financial, New York, NY, 2000–2004

Supervised team of 12 brokers in account prospecting and development activities. Conducted in-depth research on stocks and related topics to provide best recommendations for clients. Mentored team members and provided assistance with complex and escalated client issues. Authorized sign-off on large transactions.

Education

The education section can include your college background, technical training, and/or professional development.

Bachelor of Arts, Accounting—LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY, Brooklyn, NY

Best of Both Worlds
A combination resume will allow you to highlight your impressive accomplishments and grab the reader’s interest right at the beginning while also providing the chronological work history employers are looking for. Now get out there and knock that employer’s socks off!


Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com or email her at linda@careerstrides.com

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