Friday, March 18, 2011

How a good resume helps with a career change. An expert shares her advice

Judy Ware in Vancouver, Wash. is creating as business out of helping people write effective resumes, develop career strategies and generally align career goals with their passions. At her Web site, Ware tells job seekers and those wanting to make a career change to take charge of the situation....develop a career plan, create an effective resume, use Internet social networking and get out and meet people. A good resume is a key part of that strategy.
After meeting Judy as a recent 60 & Single workshop, I asked if she would share tips for women. She came up with two sets of recommendations: One set for those over 50 who have time to plan a shift into part-time work or something different in retirement. Another set for women in a job but who want to shift into a second "retirement" career.
First, her 5 tips for Career Changers at Retirement Age: These are for women who want to step away from the big job, but keep working at something they choose that's in line with their passions.
  • Tip No. 1: Recognize your hot buttons, the things that bring out your passion. If you achieve the career that relates to your passion, you will see longevity and prosperity in your chosen field.
  • Tip No. 2: Look for opportunity as you are entering this second career. You need to be able to let go of the handrail to take steps towards your new career.
  • Tip No. 3: Connect your hot buttons to your actions. What do you gravitate towards? What activities or interests excite you so much that you find yourself energized by a day’s work rather than exhausted? Look at your schedule for time commitments to see what it is you prioritize your time around.
  • Tip No 4: Recognize what energizes you, what will “re-fire” your vision. Recognize it, own it; do not try to replicate someone else’s vision. Your next career will grow from your personal brand and your natural abilities.
  • Tip No. 5: Create an action plan and do it. You may need to engage a career coach to develop a career plan and keep you on track with a time line.
Ware also came up with tips for women over 50 who are still working full-time but want to start strategizing about retirement in 10 or 15 years. These women have more time to develop goals and a strategy."Something they can start dreaming about," Ware said.
  • Tip No. 1: Look at your financial situation. How much do you need to have in savings to retire? What financial commitments will affect your decision? Set up an aggressive investment plan to get there. Seek a financial adviser to help you set realistic goals.
  • Tip No.2: Evaluate skill sets. What new skill sets do you need for your desired second career? Do you need to earn credibility with an educational degree, or certification? If so, take time to get what you need.
  • Tip No. 3: Recognize your personal brand. It is your unique selling proposition that will enhance your next endeavor and will bring lasting satisfaction in the new career.
  • Tip. No 4: Take an assessment test. Your professional motivation may have changed in the past 10 or 20 years. Ware found that she had "evolved" from a random and free spirit to an analytical, concrete and sequential thinker. "I needed to find my heart’s work in that field," she said.
  • Tip No. 5: Make a five-year plan. That's unless you have unlimited resources to make the move now. A five-year plan will allow you to research, explore, and put into place a firm foundation from which to launch your plan, Ware said. "It will also give you confidence as you see things build upon themselves so you will not get discouraged when it doesn’t all come together in one year. Who knows, it may happen sooner," she said.
More from Judy Ware
Judy launched her resume-writing and career-coaching business in 2006. It was a big change for her even though she had training in human resources development. "I realized that I wanted to work with people and I wanted to write," she told me. At 60, she works two days at week on the campus of Washington State University Vancouver as a writing coach. She likes the interaction with students. She likes helping them with their papers and she stays in touch with academic life.
"There's so much happening on campus," she said. She doesn't just provide editing help to students but gets them to "think how to to form a thesis and how to support that thesis," she says.
She uses the same skills when she helps people with resumes. Last year she assisted about 50 clients. She admits that she needs to put more effort into marketing her services with the right niche.
What mistakes does she see women making in developing a resume?
Women must emphasize their transferable skills, she said. For example, someone working at the vice president level in an organization who may choose to become an entrepreneur or go to work at a nonprofit must emphasize their strong leadership and technical skills, she said. Many women just list "duties" of the job on their resume and not realize the transferable skills sets they offer.
Ware uses a direct questionnaire to help people get at those transferable skills. For example, she asks.
"When you started in this position what was an issue or what changes did you see that needed to be made? What action did you implement and what was the result?" Then she asks the interviewee to quantify the result in savings to the company or other improvements to the organization.
"This question shows what kind of difference they've made in the work place," she said.
Another client had been in banking but lost her job at the vice president level. "It was devastating to her," Ware said. "She had put everything into position but they let her go."
Ware said the resume that she helped this woman write gave her the confidence to go out there and get a new job.
What about women who may have been out of the workforce for a long time?
"We can still emphasize relevant skills and accomplishments," Ware said. "Or it may mean going to work for a temporary employment agency to keep skills sharp." Unfortunately, the job market remains challenging, especially for those who've lost jobs. Ware said in some recent job opening advertisements, she's seen wording saying unemployment people need not apply. "I guess they figure those with jobs are better candidates," Ware said. "It's tough out there."
Be prepared and up to date
If you get that interview, women need to be prepared with strong examples of their work.
What makes a good resume? Ware says a good resume must convey your expertise.
Professional women 60 and older seem to have more confidence that they can make a career change, Ware said. Many want less pressure, less responsibility but still want to enjoy the work place. A lateral move makes sense.
"If you find a job that you love, you won't have to 'work' another day," Ware said. "You've got to have the passion for what you want to do. That gives women the seriousness to succeed in a second career."
To reach Judy Ware, send email to or visit her Web site at
Writing a good resume at AARP: Click here.
Free resume samples, Click here.
How to write a resume if you're over 50: Click here.
Writing a "senior" resume: Click here.
Combating age bias in the job market: Click here.

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