Kristin Bustamante has always viewed moonlighting as a copywriter as a welcome break from her primary career as a director of content and marketing strategy. Beyond that, it’s been a reliable source of income that provides a lot of flexibility to ramp up as needed, a point that is important to this single mom.
“When the pandemic hit, this side hustle not only kept me afloat but it also provided new introductions,” Kristin tells The Mom Project. And it was these introductions eventually prompted her to think about changing careers to find something fresh.
Organizing her experience
First things first. Kristin knew that before she could even think about thinking about changing jobs, she had to update her resume and online profiles. “Even if I didn’t end up changing careers, this was a good opportunity to create a few additional bullet points for my resume.”
After looking over her current resume, Kristin’s first hurdle was getting caught up and summarizing the past 10 years of experience while keeping the resume succinct. “I had led an international content team, supported an acquisition, launched countless campaigns and new products, all while managing a team of anywhere from 3 to 12+ full-time and contract employees.”
Kristin realized she had her fair share of management and strategic experience, but she had also spent a large portion of her time executing campaigns from the ground up. She needed to determine exactly what type of jobs she might apply to before she could determine what she wanted to highlight on her resume.
So, Kristin came up with a game plan. “I decided to focus on big career moments. I made a list of all new product launches and major campaign management activities, then listed a few examples to support each of those moments.”
This was a really supportive learning experience for Kristin for two reasons. First, it helped her organize the most important moments in her career history into similar buckets and then boil them down to the most compelling examples to share.
“This had an unexpected personal benefit: increased self confidence. It’s easy to do a job day in and day out, but not really realize how well you’re doing it or how much experience you’ve actually gained. Taking a moment to look back at all I had accomplished made me embrace my value in the workplace.”
"It’s easy to do a job day in and day out, but not really realize how well you’re doing it or how much experience you’ve actually gained."
Secondly, because Kristin had catalogued so many of her experiences in this exercise, she was able to customize her resume to align with each job listing she was interested in applying to. If there were experiences that didn’t relate directly to the posted job’s requirements, she could easily move them down in the list or remove them entirely.
Learning how to apply
Kristin’s most recent role had been secured through her networking efforts. Because of that, it had been quite a while since she had experienced the application and interview process. “It definitely took some getting used to!” she shared with us.
“I found it extremely difficult to answer when asked ‘Tell me about yourself.’” When considering this question, Kristin wondered which parts of her experience and role she should she focus on. She knew that she had truly been a part of so many different types of activities and built so many skills, that she struggled to summarize everything in a single thought.
So, she dove into searching for advice on how to answer this question which led her to The Mom Project. She created a profile and began receiving job alerts. Already knowing the importance of tailoring her resume to each job she applied to, Kristin had a library of bullet points ready to go. Using this list she was able to tailor her resume to each opportunity. She then used her cover letter to expand on her experience and provide a glimpse of her personality.
As is typical, Kristin applied and interviewed a few times with no luck. But, she told us that even in those cases, she learned valuable lessons that helped her move forward in her job search.
1️⃣ Customizing a resume to match the role: “I had a robust list of bullet points to share, but limited time to catch the reviewer’s attention. I read each job posting and highlighted the most relevant skills on my resume.”
2️⃣ Learning how to talk about professional experiences: “After one interview, I received feedback that I didn’t have a specific type of experience. I was surprised because that was 90% of my experience, but I realized I had focused so many of my responses on just a few of the job’s responsibilities, I hadn’t shared enough about all of my experience.”
3️⃣ Adjusting a job title: “In my previous role, I worked for a small company with creative job titles. Using that title as my headline wouldn’t necessarily translate to a recruiter viewing the resume, so I adjusted my title to be more similar to what other job positions were called in my industry. It was now a direct indication of my experience and was no longer industry specific: ‘senior marketing professional and content strategist.’”
4️⃣ Leveraging personal connections: “I had a personal connection who worked at the same firm as the recruiter who contacted me about a role I was truly interested in. I reached out to the connection to put in a good word for me, and it definitely helped.”
Starting a job search in the middle of a pandemic was an exercise in patience for Kristin. As with many families, she shared that everything kept changing rapidly, from her kids’ school schedules to her ideal work arrangement (full time, contract-based, freelancing, etc.). Instead of feeling defeated by this, Kristin learned to approach each cover letter she wrote as an opportunity to refine her career story and practice communicating her experience in a way that would connect with the reader.
Ultimately, a position as a Senior Copy Manager at Etsy that aligned extremely closely with Kristin’s skills and met her personal career goals, too, came along. It didn’t happen overnight, but when the right role did pop up, she was ready to apply quickly and speak confidently about her experience in a way that helped her land the position.
Tiffany Nieslanik is the Managing Editor at The Mom Project, a graduate student, and a homeschooling mom to 3 young kids. In her (limited) free time she’s also an avid reader, a proponent of power naps, and enjoys getting outside as often as possible.