Resume Makeover: A New Brand Helps IT Exec Overcome Hurdles

"Ted Transformation" had several strikes against him when he decided to rejoin the workforce in mid-2004. He was 60 and had spent his entire career -- more than 30 years -- with one company. He had accepted a buyout from this employer in 2003, which left him with a gap on his resume when he started looking again.

A senior technology executive, Ted had expected consulting would keep him busy following his "retirement," but he was used to managing multimillion-dollar contracts and directing hundreds of staffers. Bored with consulting, he unearthed his resume and didn't like what he saw.

"It was really just a list of activities and results I achieved, but it was boring and verbose," says Ted. "It was the kind of thing we all wrote when we were with a company and needed to keep a resume on file."

Little stood out. Although Ted had handled large projects that sometimes involved multiple companies in foreign countries, his expertise and abilities were buried.

Ted's goal was to land a senior project management role with an IT-outsourcing organization. He wanted his resume to transcend any issues about his age or one-company career. He decided to hire a professional who could help produce "marketing materials" that reflected his value.

He found Deborah Wile Dib, an executive coach in Medford, N.Y. At $4,000, Dib didn't come cheaply. Her take: While Ted possessed an array of technical and management skills, he thought of them mostly in terms of the projects he had completed, she says.

"[Ted] lacked a cohesive vision of himself that would allow him to deliver a concise message of his value to the types of companies where he wanted to work," says Dib.

She set out to learn what made Ted unique. She sent him questionnaires about his career, projects and activities that produced results. Ted also created spreadsheets and other supporting material. "It was a lot of work. I must have written 75 to 100 pages," he says.

What Dib learned was that Ted was an accomplished senior IT-outsourcing project manager who pulled off large, complex and difficult assignments for troubled clients of his employer. He helped them use IT to solve problems and increase efficiency and profits.

Working from his descriptions, Dib created a "branding" document, which was originally six pages long. "[You] manage the full-scale development -- or rescue -- of seemingly unachievable multimillion- to multibillion-dollar technology-outsourcing contracts that support or replace client corporations' multilayer, in-house business functions," she wrote.

The document explained in detail why employers would value his abilities and how he could say he pulled off his successes when talking to networking contacts and employers. The branding statement was the toughest part, says Dib. "When [senior executives] get really good at what they do, it's difficult for them to articulate their value, because it seems second nature to them," she says.

With this foundation, work could begin on Ted's resume. At the top of the first page, immediately after his contact information, Ted stated his brand, supporting it with five bullet points that show the scope of his assignments. "You can see right away that this is a big-scope guy," says Dib.

The list of competencies at the center of the page allows readers, particularly recruiters, to quickly see if Ted has the abilities they seek. The career overview that follows illustrates that Ted's 30-year career at Worldwide Tech. was progressive and punctuated with numerous awards. (On Ted's original resume, awards were listed at the end, where few readers might see them.)

The next heading, "Positions, Projects and Successes," allows Ted to organize his career by roles and major assignments. Starting this section on the first page draws readers to the second page, which lists his most significant recent projects. The third page shows Ted's early career.

Employers value lifelong learning. Under "Education and Credentials," Ted cites 1,200-plus hours of training in management and human resources instead of listing every course he has taken. If asked, he can supply names and dates.

The resume is focused, leaving out details that would have distracted from the overall message. And even with few graphic elements, it's easy to read because of the short sentences and bullet points and spacing between the lines.

For employers who want to know more, Ted created an addendum. This describes his projects' clients, scope, challenges and how they were resolved. Dib says while recruiters sometimes aren't interested in addendums, hiring decision-makers often are because they can use it for talking points in interviews.

Preparing the branding statement, the resume, addendum and cover letters took the pair four months. Dib also created a set of marketing letters for an additional $450. Ted began job hunting in the summer of 2004. He mailed his package to 600 recruiters but got only a few replies and no job offers. He posted his resume on major job boards and began mailing his package to the officers of potential employers.

An officer at a large IT-outsourcing organization who also had worked at Worldwide Tech received the package. He forwarded it to an internal company recruiter, who had seen Ted's resume posted to the company's Web site. The two started to talk about the company's need for a senior executive to work on applications in its global "transformation" division. Ted says he had about 10 interviews and was offered a job in December. He started the new role in January, shortly after his 61st birthday.

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