Downsizing your career

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Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a graduate degree in Marketing and Communication, and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call 1-888-9-LADYBUG or visit

Dear Sam: I retired from the military in 2005. Since then, I have worked for three Fortune 500 companies at the management and senior management level. I am looking for a part-time job where I can come in to work, add value, and go home. I no longer want to manage employees. I am obviously overqualified, but can still add value to a position and a company at the individual contributor level. How do I convey this in my resume so that I can get an interview? — E.

Dear E.: Downsizing your career can be difficult, especially because, as you suggested, the initial knee-jerk reaction will be that you are overqualified. Writing a resume where you are repositioning yourself for a support role takes a carefully planned out strategy and a willingness to realize that sometimes, regardless of the picture you paint on paper, the titles you held may—in and of themselves—overqualify you for certain positions.

I see you have opened your resume with an objective statement. While I understand you are communicating what you want in your next role, realize that your resume is to be used to focus on what you can do for an employer. Through a qualifications summary—which you have also included on your resume—you must validate the experiences and skills which position you for your current career target as a customer service representative. Given you are downsizing your career, it would be acceptable to make a statement about the experience you possess while also introducing what you are looking for in your next role. For instance, perhaps say something akin to, "Proven to deliver exceptional customer service in fast-paced and high-volume call center environments; eager to leverage past customer service management roles to transition into an individual contributor opportunity." By starting the statement with what you offer, you take the focus away from what you want, and instead are telling the reader that you are a great catch as you have contributed at a higher level in the past yet really do want a lower level at this point in your career.

In the professional history section of your resume, you must strike a more balanced visual between the paragraph overviews of your roles and your bulleted achievements. Currently the paragraphs are so "heavy" and long that they are overshadowing the handful of brief bullet points which follow. Even though you are not seeking another leadership role, you still need to communicate the value you contributed in the past. Right-sizing the paragraph overview will also help paint a less intimidating picture of your experience and candidacy. In addition, be careful not to make your earlier experiences look stronger than your most recent. Currently, you have far more content for earlier roles than you do for your more recent and longer-tenure positions. Perhaps pay a little more attention to balancing the sections which should become a little slimmer as the years go by.

You have done an excellent job of only exploring back about eight years, but realize that with the presentation of your undergraduate degree graduation year, you are, in essence, undoing your strategy. Most hiring managers expect to see about 10-15 years of your experience, so if you are only including this amount, do not date your education section if it further ages your candidacy.

I think you are on the right track with your resume; you just need to refine your summary so it really does speak to how valuable a candidate you are. In addition, once you right-size the professional experience section and create a more palatable balance between your responsibilities and achievements, I feel your value will be hard to ignore, regardless of the level at which you are applying.

Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).