Q: After almost eight years of doing freelance work, I am re-entering the job market. The reasons are basic: working at home is much lonelier than I expected, and I want a regular paycheck – something that freelance work just can’t provide. I’ve put together a terrific resume and am applying for a whole variety of positions, but all I've generated is rejection. Worse yet, I began looking for work in November, but I’m still not even close to finding a job.
Are there things I'm missing? I'm an MSW with lots of direct care experience, but am looking more for a supervisory or program management position.
A: Unfortunately, there are several key issues you are missing in your job search:
- One great resume will not work for a variety of positions.
You need to customize your resume with keywords for each job. This is also true of your cover letter.
- You have a lot of direct care experience, yet you are applying for supervisory positions.
When a recruiter skims through a number of resumes, she looks for specific experience. If she is filling a managerial position, she wants to see managerial background. If your resume has none, you will go immediately to the trash or round file.
- Your having been a freelance entrepreneur for eight years makes employers nervous.
Unless you explain to them in person why you are willing to work for someone else, they will be hard-pressed to understand why you want to give up working from home.
- For many years, skilled networking has been the best way to find a new job.
People want to hire individuals they know and trust or have been referred to them. Even a well-written resume doesn't begin to make the positive impact a face-to-face appointment can. If you rely on ads, you neglect the 80-90% of available positions filled via referral.
Fortunately, by re-thinking your job search, you can overcome these obstacles. Use your exceptional people skills to network with social service colleagues. Tell them you are interested in changing careers, then ask their advice on how to make the transition from freelance entrepreneur to full-time employee. They know where the jobs are. They may even enjoy being professional mentors. If you give them the opportunity, they will help you find a new job that’s a good fit.
Whether you hear about a new job through networking or an online job listing, do not forget to customize your resume so it contains keywords that match what the employer is asking for. Probably a hybrid resume format, which focuses on activities rather than work history, will work better for you than a chronological one. Mention your specific objective at the top of the resume. Then list each of the required job functions along with appropriate accomplishments from your paid or volunteer work experience. Put your work history in a separate section toward the bottom. Formatting your resume this way will show how your skills and experience match the position, while minimizing your freelance entrepreneurial background.