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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 22, 2003

Career switch overloads résumé

By Maryann Haggerty
Washington Post

Debra F. Charles is working as a patent examiner while studying for her master's degree in finance at Johns Hopkins University. She already has a master's in information systems and has worked in several technology jobs. She would like a post as a senior financial analyst and wonders why her résumé isn't attracting offers.

Joseph M. Basile, a partner with Spectrum Group LLC in McLean, Va., a recruiting firm specializing in technology and finance, reviewed her résumé and concluded it was trying to do too much. The result: a document that's tough to follow.

In her attempt to get everything in, both technology and finance, Charles "has, in a sense, overloaded the potential employer with information," he said.

Basile recommended that one of the first items on the résumé, a lengthy summary of 20 years running a family investment partnership, be played down because it never was full-time and obscured Charles' other accomplishments.

He recommended she use bullet points to highlight specific achievements at her full-time jobs, both the technology posts and the financial ones earlier in her career.

Some of her recent jobs that have one-line descriptions should have at least three bullet points expanding on what she did, he said, while a job she held in 1987, which has nine bullet points, should be trimmed.

The jobs Charles seeks are "extremely specialized," Basile pointed out, and might require more investment banking experience than she has. Her technology experience might not be an adequate substitute.

"It is important for Debra to concentrate on what she really wants to do," Basile said. If she wants to work in finance, he said, she should not view technology as a back door into a company — "it is extremely rare for someone to transfer from technology to finance."

She should use her contacts, particularly through Hopkins, to find a finance career path that will let her work up to that coveted senior analyst spot.