May 27, 2011
NWjobs Career Makeover: IT manager gets advice to reboot job search
Special to NWjobs
George Williams thought that 20 years of experience on his résumé was surely a good thing.
Despite an MBA and a long employment history that includes Microsoft, the 49-year-old Renton father of two young children has had trouble finding a job since being laid off from Boeing in 2008.
As an IT project manager and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist, Williams thought he would be a valuable asset to a younger company like Google that he says “could use some more gray hair.”
But after more than two years of looking and about 700 résumés sent out, he finally got a tip from a fellow soccer parent who works as an IT recruiter: His résumé made him look “too old.”
“I’m selling 20 years of experience, and nobody cares,” Williams says.
As part of the NWjobs career-makeover series, Williams recently met with a team of career professionals who assessed his résumé, networking and interviewing abilities, and style and presentation.
NWjobs Career Makeover
Second in a three-part series
The job seeker
Name: George Williams
Profession: IT project manager
* Unemployed since 2008
* Limited response to résumés
Paul Anderson, ProLango Consulting
Kristen Fife, employment specialist
Seia Milin, WorkSource Redmond
* Emphasize fields that you are targeting on your résumé
* Present your résumé in a professional manner
* Network outside of your comfort zone
Kristen Fife, a Seattle-area employment expert, says Williams’s experience was actually working against him on paper.
“He had been using a skills-based résumé that broke his experience up into so many parts that no recruiter or hiring manager could make heads or tails out of his expertise,” she says.
Fife restructured his résumé into reverse chronological format so that employers could clearly see his job history and skills. She helped him put the emphasis on project management and GIS — the areas where he sees a future for himself — and minimized the other things he’d rather leave behind, such as doing environmental cleanup at nuclear sites. She also eliminated outdated software skills from Williams’s résumé.
Another recommendation of Fife’s that Williams put into immediate practice was to have a blog or online work portfolio to highlight what he’s been doing lately. Those activities include training for bike rides, managing a soccer team and preparing to start his own consulting business.
Williams already had a family website, so he added a work section before going to an interview with the state of Washington for a GIS position.
“We had some extra time at the end of the interview, so we looked at my website together,” Williams says. “It was a home run.” He was called back for a second interview.
Seia Milin, an employment programs lead for WorkSource Redmond, coached Williams on style and presentation. Milin says it’s important for job seekers to show up 15 minutes early for appointments and bring three copies of a résumé and references.
Milin was impressed by Williams’ firm handshake, good eye contact and friendly, smiling demeanor, but suggested that he put his résumé in a neat sleeve or folder and include a list of references to improve his presentation.
Since Williams was laid off by Microsoft in 2006 when his job was outsourced, Milin says he may be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance, a federal program that offers retraining to American workers who have lost their jobs to foreign competition.
“Then you can go into an interview and say, ‘I’m working on upgrading my skills,’ ” Milin says. “If they see potential, the employer might even contribute to your retraining as well.”
Finally, on the advice of Paul Anderson of ProLango Consulting, Williams is pushing himself to network outside of his comfort zone, moving beyond parent and soccer groups to online resources such as LinkedIn.
“I’ve demonstrated the ability to be a lifelong learner,” Williams says. “Every challenge that’s been thrown my way, I’ve conquered. I’ve got a long track record of doing that.”
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