Q. I’ve been at the same job (with many hats) for the same company since 2001 in a pretty niche market. Now that I’m older and have a family, it really started sinking in that I am underpaid for someone with my tenure, abilities and for the massive amount of work I’ve done above and beyond my position. There isn’t much room to ‘move up’, or even make a parallel move, so I’m looking in different areas for a new career that will make living easier, and not paycheck to paycheck. I am capable of many things, and have many skills, but my job field (office job in the photography field) doesn’t necessarily translate on paper/resume easily, and I think I am often ignored/passed over. I have applied to 50 jobs this year in an array of fields (easily qualified for), and received one call back (then subsequently ignored). Is there a way to get my skill set past the ‘he/she works in photography, we don’t need pictures taken’ stigma, and be seen as a loyal department head with great skills who just happens to work for a company who sells photographs?
A. You have told the story of internal and external job seekers who are challenged by communicating their value. First remember that employers pay you for the value of your contributions to their organization, not based on your family situation, or length of service. Do the research. What do roles like yours pay in service organizations? Reality is the best tool when it is time to negotiate, whether you are faced with an internal or external conversation. Perhaps you are being taken for granted and a more direct review of your contributions could help you maximize your earning potential.
To make that happen, you need to review every word of your resume. If you’ve had many hats at your current company, you need to define each role in general business terms, not terms just accepted at your company. In each of these roles, quantify the successes you were responsible for or participated in. Most often, companies where you are not considered the main talent but are considered a supporting player often overlook the kind of increases you believe you deserve. You may have already hit your peak compensation at your current company. The resume re-creation you are now tasked with may prove highly valuable if you want to try to renegotiate your current compensation.
Many job seekers use language in their resumes and letters which minimize responsibilities because they tie themselves too closely to the specifics of their current role. To be considered for external roles, you’re goal is to remove the “picture taking” from the description of the work you do. Your organization is a service provider. You need to describe the work you do in terms of managing, leading, driving revenue and increasing the success of your company by being able to sell more services, deliver more services at a lesser cost, or increase productivity. All hiring organizations are interested in people who can drive success regardless of what the service or product might be.
Also, consider adding as many project details and results that you can to your LinkedIn profile through the upload and the update feature. Make sure it’s completely updated with a recent head shot and communicates what you would like to do as much what you have accomplished.
Once the new resume is complete, change your approach from 50 applications to 50 networking contacts. Develop relationships with vendors and other service providers. You need to develop an external sales force that can speak to your skills and refer you to potential hiring managers, and the new resume will give you the breadth you will need to succeed.