Mentoring Matters: With 30+ Years of Experience, How Do I Get Past the “Gatekeepers” in My Job Search?

by Margaretta Noonan, MASTERMINDS Panel Member

Dear Masterminds:

I am 30+ year seasoned, experienced real estate lender and I am totally fustrated by vrious HR department personnel in applying for positions that I know I have the background and experiences to execute. Below is my resume for you review and comment. I do not subscribed to the concept of having to rewrite your resume for each job application.

Part of what you’re experiencing is the “curse of job boards”. This is a curse that afflicts both employers and candidates.  On the employer side, the ability (or, sometimes, requirement) to apply on-line often leads to an inundation of resumes for any given position.  It’s easy for people to apply for many different jobs and so many people do.  As an employer, how do I handle this flood? I’m already time-pressed because there are fewer people in the company than there used to be. I don’t have time for this! The answer is often to have a junior-level employee (or external firm) pre-screen all the resumes.  They’ll go through the pile for this job, that job, the other job and select just a small fraction for further consideration.

PAY it FORWARDFor candidates, the curse of this huge volume of resumes means that theirs is just another resume in that pile that the junior employee is going through. Research has shown that the average resume is scanned for only 5 to 7 seconds before being given a thumbs up or a thumbs down. So, the trick becomes, how do you make it to the “schedule for an interview” pile? How do you catch the eye of the person taking just a quick glance at your resume?

With such a short period of time to make an impression, clearly, your resume has to stand out from the crowd.  Most resume-reviewers are interested primarily in your current company and position, the company and position immediately prior to that and your education.  Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.  Here are some tips:

  • Use bold fonts to highlight key areas: company names, job titles, dates in position
  • Don’t list every job you’ve ever had.  It’s not only accurate to give a date range and “other positions in similar companies” but it helps the reviewer find your most current and most recent jobs.  Having 30 years of experience is great but you don’t have to list it all at this point. (If you want to, you can have a more complete resume when you go for an interview so every employer/job is listed.)
  • Use white space – make the important things (current/most recent job; education) “pop” on the page
  • You’re not limited to a single page resume – particularly if using a second page allows you to use bigger, bolder fonts and more white space – but don’t go beyond two pages.
  • And if you have a two page resume, be sure the things the recruiter cares about are on the front page and easy to find.
  • Tailor your resume to a particular industry, business or position. We all respond better when we feel that someone “speaks our language”. Demonstrate you can do this by using industry-specific words or phrases and by emphasizing the parts of your background that is of most appeal to them

Finally, whenever possible, send your resume right to the hiring manager rather than to HR – it may still get passed to that junior-level resume reviewer but at least you have a chance that someone else has spent 5 to 7 seconds reading it as well. And two sets of eyes are better than one.

“Mentoring Matters” is an exclusive ongoing series of Articles featuring select questions received from our readers via our @MENTORING Channel, with responses provided by our @Masterminds Panel. If you’d like your business or career challenge considered for publication, please visit our @Need A Mentor? Page today! And don’t forget to join our new mentoring community on Linkedin, committed to giving back by paying it forward: BIZMENTORING 360°.


Margaretta Noonan
Margaretta Noonan
While still a senior executive at a global company, Margaretta Noonan started asking herself, “Am I All There?” After several years of exploring the topic of employee engagement – her own included; Margaretta co-founded ngage, a technology-enabled solution that creates a continuous connection between employees and managers about the issues that are critical to organizational success;. Margaretta spent 30 years in Human Resources and senior leadership with global Fortune 500 companies in the retail and professional services industries. Knowing that a company is only ever as strong as the talent inside it – in addition to ngage, Margaretta heads a woman-owned consulting business, noonanWorks (, dedicated to working at the intersection of employee engagement / customer engagement and financial results.

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