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April 24, 2012 > Counseling Corner: Creating a Stronger Resume & Getting a Better Job (Final)

Counseling Corner: Creating a Stronger Resume & Getting a Better Job (Final)

One Tri City Resident's Story

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

This is the fourth and last installment in our series about the real-life story of one Tri City resident who came to me for help with her resume (you can access for previous installments). To protect her privacy, I will call her "Jane." I have changed any details that might reveal who she is, but I can assure you that the following career journey of "Jane" is true.

Our story so far - Jane wanted a resume makeover with the goal of finding a job with better pay and better potential for career advancement. She liked her job, but knew that she had hit the limit as far as advancement went. Jane came to see me for help with improving her resume so she could find a better job, both for herself and her family.

Our first session pinpointed her interests, skills she likes to use, and companies she wanted to work for. Our second session put lots of action verbs and details in her resume. The original version of her resume was sparse and gave no indication of how special she was as a worker. We went over her resume with a fine-toothed comb, examined each word and sentence carefully. I showed her examples of what she could do with each line of her resume. Most importantly, we added details and vivid description to her resume so that potential employers would get excited about bringing her in for an interview.

After a lot of hard work revising Jane's resume, we finally arrived at a version we were both pleased with - one that included lots of details and specifics, and one that was targeted at the employers she wanted to work for (It's really important that you tailor your resume to each employer so you can show how you can fill their unique needs and specifications). We then met so Jane could practice answering interview questions. Jane was extremely nervous about the interview process, but I coached and guided her; she was ready to face a real interview situation soon after we started our counseling.

All our hard work paid off; soon after Jane started sending out her resume, she received invitations to interview at companies that offered promising growth opportunities. With each interview, she gained valuable experience and her confidence and comfort level grew. She was still nervous approaching an interview situation, but now had the tools to be able to handle tough questions. When I asked her how she felt about our sessions, she said, "Well, I learned to be confident. I was really scared of going to interviews but after having some practice with you, it helped out a lot. I also learned how to ask questions, too. I never asked questions before. I learned a lot of communicating skills with interviewers, like emailing back with a thank you letter. Getting ready for the crazy questions the interviewer asked, that was hard. But after going to a couple of interviews it got easier and easier."

For me as a career counselor, "success" in the job search process doesn't necessarily mean that one gets the job (since one is not in absolute control over who gets chosen for the job). In my opinion, the first "success" for a job-seeker is to get invited to interviews after submitting a resume. Getting an interview means that one has been successful in putting together a resume that is outstanding enough to interest a prospective employer. This in itself is a significant achievement, especially since many people are not invited to interviews, even if they are qualified for the job. The fact that Jane quickly got offers to interview meant that she was a success at this point in her job search.

But Jane went far beyond that and hit the job jackpot. One of her interviews went so well that she was immediately offered a contract position with a company whose mission and values were in line with her own. In many respects, this was a dream company to work for. Jane was a little hesitant to take on a contract position that wasn't permanent at the outset, but went for it. She took an instant liking to the company, to the job itself, as well as to her colleagues, and quickly became a valued member of the team. For several months, she was working as a temp, but early this year, received wonderful news that she would be hired as a full-time, permanent employee with full benefits. She told me, "I really enjoy working at XYZ [company she's now at]. I'm very happy that you helped me out and got this job for me! Thanks Anne for helping me out. You're the best."

It was truly my pleasure to be part of the Jane's career journey and to see her move from a small company to one where she could be an important and valued contributor. Best of all, she loves her job and the people she works with.

Bear in mind that Jane looked for and found a job during the absolute worst economic period of 2011, the period when newscasters and newspapers were waxing gloom and doom about job prospects. But Jane was not deterred by all the negative forecasting - instead she buckled down and worked on her resume and sent it to Tri-City employers with job openings. Not only did she find a job, but she found one that offered better pay and better career advancement than her previous job. I hope Jane's story inspires all of you out there who are looking for jobs to keep working on your resumes and to keep sending them out!

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships. She can be reached at 510-744-1781. Her website is

(c) Anne Chan, 2012

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