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by SixFigureStart | April 27, 2009


The other day I applied for a job as director of the local zoo. As a media and communications professional, it might seem I am no more qualified for that kind of job than your average running shoe sales clerk at Scheels. But times are tough for job seekers, don’t you know, and this job was just sort of sitting there looking up at me with its big brown eyes and, impulsively, I went for it.

There were pieces of my past that gave me pause. Buried in my background, if not my actual backyard, was a variety of animal care failures that included goldfish, a hamster, and that disastrous ant farm that I had set on the window sill in full sun. When I was eight, my pet chameleon, Zeke, escaped and was never found. For all I know Zeke still roams the suburbs of Chicago, rummaging through garbage cans and, having grown to pony-like dimensions, has inspired an episode of Fringe.

Okay, I could work around those issues. But my resume, for all its glowing eponymous tributes, was suddenly out-of-whack. I would have to make some adjustments. Rest easy, I am not advocating the fabrication of facts. But most of us have strengths which may very well translate to a job that at first blush appears off-center. Management experience, leadership, familiarity with budgets, and the ability to get along with others are essential qualities that play extremely well in a variety of employment opportunities and could provide inroads to a new career path.

A potential candidate can encourage those attributes to bubble to the surface of an application by examining the job requirements closely. There’s no need to camouflage your past. In fact, you can use your career experience to your advantage by pointing out how your previous employment has prepared you for this new opportunity, and describing how you plan to make the transition. [more]

--Posted by John Riha,

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