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Rewriting history

Rewriting history


This month our career advice columnist helps a store manager move onto another career and helps a gay couple navigate the world of gay expo events

Dear Ed,

I've been a retail store manager during the past nine years, and I can't remember the last holiday I spent with my partner and our family. As more and more monster retail stores are being built, the competition increases, making my job more and more difficult to perform. The long hours--often 80 per week--the low pay, and high burnout rate has caused me to rethink where I'm going.

This summer I decided that I want out of retail by the year-end holiday shopping season. I've already identified my transferable skills and have investigated some other industries that interest me and where my skill set can be applied (e.g., country club manager, banquet facilities manager). However, I keep returning to, and scrubbing, my resume to the point that it's become an obsession. I believe my educational and professional experience is strong, yet I lack the confidence that my resume reflects, and my insecurity is causing me to obsess and hold me back from moving forward.

Can you give me some resume pointers to use as a litmus test and put my mind at ease?

Thank you,Resume Police

Dear RP,

Resumes are written to be reflective of your career as it progresses through stages. Also, where is it written that you need just one resume? You can create a basic boilerplate resume reflective of your educational and professional experience--and fill in the blanks according to each position you are applying for.

Part of your obsession lays in the fact that you're charting unfamiliar job search territory after performing the same job for the past nine years. Don't blame yourself for not having to look for work over the past nine years. Now you are in uncharted terrain, as you've chosen to put yourself out there for the world to see. Not to worry: The more you extend yourself in these new situations, the more you'll become comfortable and self-assured--it'll take a little getting used to, that's all.

Begin with a helpful definition of what a resume represents, to reduce it to understandable terms. Many people have the assumption that a resume gets you a job. Nothing is further from the truth. A resume is nothing more than a detailed calling card that is the source of talking points used by the prospective candidate and the potential employer.

Other helpful information would be the definition of what a resume does. For that, I'd like to offer the following definition to keep things in perspective:

--Keep it simple. A legible, straightforward writing style is paramount. Do not include every detail of every position ever held. Less is more.

--Fit to one page; no more than two. When applicable or necessary, you may attach additional pages highlighting such items as awards, licenses, certificates, speaking presentations, industry appointments, and articles authored.

--Write your resume in the present tense for current duties and in past tense for prior responsibilities. Use action verbs and qualifiers. Avoid using "I" in beginning a sentence.

--Make sure you have a chronological listing that includes dates of employment. Months and years may be added years alone.

--Emphasize specific achievements, not just responsibilities and skills (e.g., cut costs, increased revenues, improved customer satisfaction, etc.).

--It is unnecessary and not recommended to mention personal items or interests (e.g., partner, children, health, hobby, religious and/or political affiliation, etc.).

--If you are sending your resume via e-mail, copy it into the body text of the e-mail and also attach it as a document. Recipients may not have compatible software programs to access attachments.

--Mass mailings are not as effective as targeting your resume to a specific employer. Do not send it to everyone; provide your resume strategically.

--Remember that employers will be looking at past performance as an indicator of future performance. Accentuate the positive.

--Use other sample resumes as your model. Resume books are available at your local library or bookstore. Recommend are Yana Parker's Damn Good Resume Guide and Donald Asher's Overnight Resume Guide.

--Visit the Internet and do a search for resume assistance. Many sample resumes from different industries are available online for your review.

--Always send a cover letter along with your resume. Sample cover letters can also be found in the above referenced resources.

Finally, it goes without saying that an honest full disclosure of your educational and professional background is crucial for your resume. Potential employers perform background checks at minimal cost through the Internet to verify not only a candidate's educational and professional background but possibly credit history, legal judgments, title and salary verifications, etc.

Dear Ed,

Last year my partner and I flew in from the Southwest and attended our first gay expo in New York City. We were immediately hooked by what we saw and experienced, which has led us to consider creating a version of such an event in our area of the country.

After doing some initial investigating, we now are convinced that there is the right combination of an interested audience and committed exhibitors to facilitate launching such a venue. For example, we have a local gay gated-community developer that wants to be the main sponsor and showcase the residential project at a large gathering.

Your thoughts, sir, would be more fuel for our fire. We're proceeding with this initiative based on wise information from knowledgeable folks like you.

Thanks,The Expo Cowboys

Dear TEC,

Expo planning isn't without its fair share of headaches.

There's a lot that goes into the staging of a large-scale event. It's tedious, time-consuming work, with many months in the planning stages for just one weekend event. I've attended these expos in the past and have observed that you have to provide a little of something for everyone under the big top. You'll have to add in some provocative elements to make the mix interesting, fun, and informative--like gay wedding planners and gay travel providers. Having a gay gated-community developer as the main sponsor is brilliant and will especially be popular with gay baby boomers who are looking for alternative living options.

May I suggest that you and your partner become familiar with the International Association for Exhibition Management. The IAEM is one of the most respected leaders in the exhibition industry (organized in 1928, it now boasts 3,500 members). It would be a great resource for you at this stage in your investigation and planning. I'm sure you'll find a lot of helpful information through its offices. Visit the IAEM Web site at

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Ed Vladich