What do you suggest when you are looking for a change in career direction? Often you don’t have experience in your target industry. How do you get your resume looked at and seriously considered?

Two words: transferable skills. Transferable skills are the skills you have that can be used in multiple job settings (or “transferred” across a variety of jobs). Common examples of transferable skills include written and verbal communication, data analysis, research, sales or marketing, public speaking, relationship management, project management, problem-solving, and collaborating with teammates.

What is the importance of professional certifications? Are they sought out by employers? Do they give you a significant advantage?

Depending on the industry, these can be very important. Do some research on your target employers and job titles. Read job descriptions in your industry to see if any employers mention certifications as being required or recommended. That’ll give you an idea of how important they are to your particular industry. You might also start a conversation by posting about this topic on LinkedIn. Ask your connections to weigh in on which certifications have been the most helpful in their careers, or which ones they don’t feel were worthwhile.

Do you have practical, specific suggestions for how to address a break in employment due to illness? I’m completely recuperated and highly skilled but have a 10-year spotty section.

Is there anything you can include on your resume to help fill in the gaps in your resume? All sorts of experiences can count: taking classes, attending professional events, volunteering, and part-time or temporary work. Also, in your cover letter, you can include context that quickly explains that you were attending to an illness during that time, but that you’re completely recuperated and excited to get back to work. If the application system won’t allow you to submit a cover letter, add this to your resume file and submit both at once to make sure employers aren’t wondering about the reason for the gap.

How long should a resume be?

It depends. Sometimes it makes sense for your resume to go over two pages, like when you have an extensive work history. However, studies show that hiring professionals are twice as likely to “prefer” two page resumes. Regardless, each line on your resume should clearly match up nicely to the opening.