I had submitted one of my resumes for inclusion in an online training course, Career Thought Leaders' E-summit titled, "Expanding Your Horizons: Writing for International Audiences." The resume I shared was accepted and I was asked to speak to the audience of international resume writers on behalf of Canadian resume norms.
My client's resume and cover letter earned him an interview. And although his situation isn't my best example of being open and transparent (that's coming up next), it does offer a peek into how to address a potential obstacle to hire.
Moving from Canada's west coast to Dubai, after almost two decades in Canada, could be a hurdle for a mid-level manager. I addressed it right up front in the first paragraph of the cover letter, as so:
It is exciting to think of returning to Dubai where I worked for 20 years, and where I learned to speak and write Arabic. At that time, I built relationships and grew business as a Sales Executive; now I would prevent and mitigate risk, and safeguard reputation and assets as a Health and Safety Manager with (name of the company).
Immediately the recruiter knows many powerful details, such as the client's eagerness to return, his many years of local experience, and his ability to speak the local language (he is not native to the region).
But the stronger example was this: I had a young client with brain damage. His mother hired me to create a resume for him in application to an entry level job in a municipality. I addressed the issue of brain damage in the cover letter. My reasoning was this: the issue would be apparent in an interview and some accommodation might be needed; it did not make sense to delay sharing this detail.
I am pleased to submit my application for the position of (insert title) with (insert municipality name). With 2 years of relevant experience, during which I have learned to complete each of the tasks required for this position, and during which I earned a reputation for hard work and reliability, I know that I am qualified. My experience also demonstrates that although I have minor brain injury from a car accident, it has not had a negative impact on my abilities to get the work done.
Not only did this client land an interview, but he also landed a job offer. His parents are thrilled, of course, as anxiety over their son's future is relieved.
But, I've also had clients where I have not shared details. Like one fellow who suffered intense depression following his father's unexpected death. Mental health issues are not always relevant, nor do the situations require accommodations, nor do they impact the work at hand.
In this client's case, I was able to cover his two-year sabbatical in another way, while remaining truthful to his experience. Luckily, how he spent his time was actually related to his job search skills.
If you're not sure how to handle a "sticky" situation, working with a professional can be helpful.