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  #1  
Old 05-18-2019, 02:24 AM
eastla_student eastla_student is offline
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Default career changer resume and cover letter critique request

Hello,
I'm putting my resume and cover letter up on the chopping block.

Mid 40s. No wife, no kids. Ready to go anywhere. Currently working as an adjunct professor, and making art on the side, but now ready for something more economically stable and mentally stimulating. The highs are high in the adjunct world, but the lows can be low with lots of unpredictable belt-tighting.

I've chosen the actuary field because it overlaps with my skill set and interests, offers benefits, and doesn't require another advanced degree. Am I worried about starting this late in my life on the actuary path? No. But, I can only hope hiring managers think the same way.

I had the help of a some resume/cover letter professionals getting things to where they are now, but I feel my resume is still too long.

Should I list every single college I have taught at?

My programming jobs are from nearly 20 years ago, but I feel they are relevant (9 to 5 technical office environment) enough that they should be higher on the list. Should I chop out blocks of time to push them up higher?

I tried to cut out redundancy between the resume and cover letter but I feel the cover letter could still be tighter.

Additionally, I tried to insert a little personality into the cover letter, but I'm not sure how well it comes across or if that info should even be included.

Best regards.
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Last edited by eastla_student; 05-29-2019 at 08:29 PM.. Reason: updated resume and cover letter
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2019, 08:27 PM
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My advice is switch to plainer formatting. (No blue box at the top or little pictures of a phone and hand with pen.) This isn't really a profession that tends to appreciate creative resume formatting, for better or for worse. I also don't like the dashed lines.

I'll let other opine on content but as a start if you're looking for places to pare it down, I don't think the tutoring position adds much value to the resume when we already see that you're a professor, plus the times overlap so it isn't like it fills in some resume gap.

I was going to say leave the dates off your degrees, but with the dates on the programming jobs, I guess it's easy enough to guess your age/graduation dates anyway. Still, you may be able to remove the dates from your education since they don't add any value. Also I'd remove the post bacc in art.

I'd focus your skills section on hard technical skills, and I'd also just call the section "skills." E.g. Excel, VBA, R, SQL, Java.

The art thing is interesting but the level of detail may be overkill with the description of your education, exhibitions, activities, and awards. I think you should cut this down. Most/all people reading your resume won't be familiar with the specific exhibitions you did so really you could just say your art was featured in multiple exhibitions and you've won awards, generically, and it would cut down on space and get the same point across. Leave reference to it but the focus of your resume should be on skills that will be useful on the job.
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  #3  
Old 05-23-2019, 01:18 PM
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I'm maybe a little less bugged by the format except I agree about the dotted lines and I'm guessing that the low contrast will make it extremely difficult to read your email address. And, just as I think labeling "Email:" and "Phone:" is a waste, I think the icons are a waste. Phone and email are easily identified without a label or icon. All it does is clutter. And I'm not that fond of centered section headings, as they generally force the reader to do more horizontal scanning. Making it take more effort to read raises the likelihood it won't get read.

I've never gotten the LinkedIn link in resumes. If you have important stuff on LinkedIn that's not on the resume, why isn't it just on the resume? And if there's no additional important info there, why link to it?

Most objectives are a waste, but I think this is a good summary, as your background is a little different and this helps explain the degrees and jobs. I'd not use a bullet and I'd leave off the it-should-go-without-saying "while continuing exam track".

I'd leave off ending periods for all bullets.

I'd indent all text under the section headings a little. That makes the format stand out even more, and it tends to make the resume look more open.

I'd make the exams a little more tabular looking. I'd put the exam first, then left align all the Passed/Sittings. Personally, I'd do the same with the exam dates, but others disagree. I'd put the exams in chronological order.

I'd probably go Education than the very long Academics & Credentials. I don't get why credentials is there. Isn't that all come under academics, anyway?

I'd include months everywhere. I'd abbreviate them everywhere. I'd be consistent in abbreviation - I'd leave off the period.

I'd group the prof jobs together and, as lllj said, I'd leave off the tutoring while you were a prof.

For a first bullet for a teaching-oriented prof, I'd probably go with a simple bullet covering some of what you taught. "Taught ..." It doesn't have to be comprehensive, nor detailed.

Bullets could use tightening. Can you say something like "Developed an applied mathematics course on consumer-based statistical research for small business that has become part of several BS programs" Or maybe even leave off that last bit. In any case, "Selected" is a bad start for a bullet. It is ambiguous as you start to read, plus it makes it passive - not something you did.

Don't think you really need the second bullet. "the College Math course" isn't clear. If you're including to get across that you understand money, FM covers some of that.

3rd bullet isn't clear and start with a BS-sounding buzzword. So you're saying the class in the 1st bullet used R and Excel? Seems pretty obvious you'd have to use tools like that, imo. "in a ... context" is also sort of BS business-speak that I'd try to avoid.

Award nominations is good, but I'd leave off "in the General Studies Department". It adds nothing. I might make that the second bullet?

"Guided" is a weak start and I don't really understand the bullet.

"Successful..." is awkwardly worded because you can't really claim the results are from you. Since you already have 9 award noms, I'd leave this off and give the award bullet more room to let it be seen easier.

The History of Moving Img bullet doesn't really get to the point. The point really is just that you developed a new course, so I'd just say that. Beginning with "Personally" is weird.

You already listed yourself as a Java programmer, so I'd not repeat that. I'd probably use "developed" if you can claim aspects of what you did was new or "programmed" if you were doing bug fixes and feel you can't use "developed". And I'd try to avoid the "for", as it seems to take your work away from the result. If you weren't doing something specific for the clients, I don't know that I'd mention them. If you mention them, I'd not say "implemented by" because that seems to take work away from you and move it to them.

I'd leave "on Oracle Server" off. PL/SQL implies that, to start. Leaving it off lets the reader think you might also have used SQL Server or others and I see no benefit to pointing out it may be otherwise. "Successfully" is one of the standard word used in bullets to try and hype something that otherwise sounds lame. I'd avoid it.

"Participated in" is a very weak start. Something more along the line of "Group leader of a data migration software project for healthcare" would be a much stronger bullet. I'd put a group leader bullet first.

The core competencies are too dense to read. Most of them are obvious given what you've already said. Some are irrelevant from the standpoint of the reader (will sculpture really be "core" in an actuarial position?). I'd probably just make it a Computer Skills section. I'd leave off word and PP. The word "Programming" will be unnecessary in a Computer Skills section. You just need the languages/apps.

The art part near the bottom is far too detailed. We don't need the names of your work or the names of the exhibits. A simple one-liner about having exhibited would be good. And a line about the grant. Keep it simple.
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Last edited by vjvj; 05-23-2019 at 01:23 PM.. Reason: lots of typos, but i'm not bothering to fix them all
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  #4  
Old 05-23-2019, 02:22 PM
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I'll preface my comments with a few key items to always keep in mind:


The resume's purpose is to get you an interview, not the job. So construct it in a fashion that will make it easy to read and help the reader see potential. Part of this latter item is the art of "piqued curiosity"--enough information to get the main idea across but the reader wants to know more details about how you did something.



Consistency through out will be critical in getting your resume read. Inconsistency may lead to the reader remembering your resume for the wrong reason.


Also, anything on your resume is indicating that you'll be able to talk about it at length and in great detail . . .



Now, at the risk of potentially repeating what's been said by others already . . .
  • Agree with using "Education" instead of longer labels. I'd also drop the "Certificate" as it won't add anything.

  • I'd drop all of the work experiences except the most recent one. While the programming experience is "relevant," it is long enough ago that its relevance may not be "current." Things you did here can easily be conveyed in an interview and will paint you in a better light (see general statements above; especially the art of piquing curiosity).

  • Work to streamline your bullets with your work experience. Good bullets are ones that show/demonstrate results rather than listing your "responsibilities". Also, if something could reasonably be inferred by your title, no need to list it explicitly as you can confirm/clarify in an interview. (Remember what is the resume's purpose.)

  • Have a final section of "Awards & Activities" and list things that a general audience might find interesting. While no one within the actuarial community will find art exhibitions relevant for identifying who would be good, they do offer a peek at who you are as an individual overall. I'd list one of your exhibitions and your short story contest.

  • Most, if not all, of the readers of your resume will not look past the first page. So work/arrange things to be on one page if you want to maximize your efforts.



Good luck!
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  #5  
Old 05-23-2019, 02:33 PM
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I see others mentioned this, but I want to highlight it:

ONE.

PAGE.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:33 PM
eastla_student eastla_student is offline
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I love you all. This is fantastic criticism. I'm going to get back to work on the resume.

You picked up on many things I was unaware of, and am completely to blame for.

What is funny is that the professional resume writers wanted me to put in the 'successfully' and 'leveraged' (words I personally dislike) but I figured they knew best since, after all, they are professionals! Same with the goofy blue graphics at the top. Thank you for giving me an excuse to get rid of it. Maybe I picked the wrong resume service.

Just curious if anyone had a comment on my cover letter? Should I mention anything about paying my own expenses to move? I'd read on some other threads that companies will go with local candidates (all other things being equal) for cost reasons. For me, the advantage of getting the job vastly outweighs the temporary inconvenience of moving costs.

I'm worried about removing the post-bacc certificate because it was a year long program wherein I was not employed.

Should I keep the mention I was a former programmer in the objective, but only have my work history go back 10 years to pique curiosity?
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastla_student View Post
I'm worried about removing the post-bacc certificate because it was a year long program wherein I was not employed.
I see if I drop all employment beyond 10 years this will not be an issue.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastla_student View Post
Should I mention anything about paying my own expenses to move?
I don't think so. If they're really looking local, they're not even gonna read your letter.
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Old 05-24-2019, 09:28 AM
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As for the cover letter, you need to nail down your resume first.



The cover letter should only provide some context around things that might be unique to your situation. As an illustration, someone might have spent a year touring Europe and that is why there is a gap in employment history. Another illustration could be a career changer explaining why they're looking to "switch fields".



And never volunteer to pay your own moving expenses. It is good that you're willing to do so, but no need to broadcast it since a company that might otherwise pay for the move will now not even make that part of their offer. They will first determine if they want to hire you first, and then consider what it might take to get you to accept it.



Otherwise, it is just an example of what your (formal) writing skill might be; and in many cases, it's not really required.
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  #10  
Old 05-24-2019, 08:35 PM
eastla_student eastla_student is offline
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Thank you for your perceptive critiques.

I have cut the resume down to one page. I eliminated all employment prior to 10 years ago. (Too drastic?) I do make mention of my programming experience (Java, PL/SQL) in the cover letter. I would like them to think I can pick up on languages quick due to that experience, even if it was nearly 20 years ago. It is true that I currently teach my students some R basics and search queries to analyze data, but it isn't anything compared to the programming I was doing way back when.

One question is, should I reinsert a link to LinkedIn that has my complete 20+ year resume?
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