Norma Ferro, 50
Smart solutions for a single mom: an updated résumé and look.
When Norma, a project manager, was laid off from her job at a chemical company in late 2009, her colleagues cried with her. They also offered referrals, which Norma supplemented with contacts gleaned from two networking groups. She briefly considered starting her own business, but realized she'd need too much capital.
What she's looking for:
Norma is a hyperorganized extrovert who loved being a project manager, but losing her job last year has allowed her to spend more time with her 9-year-old son—and she doesn't want to give that up. "Michael has been in daycare since he was 5 months old," she says. "There aren't that many years left when he's going to want to be with mom!" Norma would ideally like a job close to her home in New Jersey, with some workplace flexibility or opportunity to telecommute. As long as she can put her management skills to use, she'd consider any type of business: She's already explored opportunities at a roofing company and the corporate offices of a retail chain.
STEP 1: CAREER
Though many offices are becoming virtual, career consultant Nancy Collamer warns that managers like Norma often need to be on-site. She advises her to research companies that tout themselves as family-friendly and to be prepared to prove herself in-office first. She also suggests Norma brainstorm possible contacts at church and her son's school—where people know her in a different, more personal context—and spend less time sending her résumé to online job boards, which should be a minimal part of any job search.
Norma needs to focus on metrics and accomplishments—the current version is exhaustive but vanilla. Louise Fletcher, president of Blue Sky Resumes, recommends inserting a succinct summary of qualifications right at the top, including such tangible information as "Led teams of 20 with budgets of up to $2M." Norma heeds the advice: "I've sent my résumé out to hundreds of jobs, but then I don't hear anything. Just let me get in the door!"
See Norma's unbelievable makeover