Stephanie R. on July 13, 2021
Resume Building and Writing
Dear Ms. Flora,
I am a refugee attorney and former Foreign Affairs Officer who worked steadily as a human rights Staff Attorney for a DC-based NGO, UNHCR Legal Consultant in Argentina, Uganda, and the Caribbean, and State Department Foreign Affairs Officer for approximately 20 years. I left the State Department in 2016 for a variety of reasons. I had reached a career wall as a Civil Servant and felt there was little room for growth, and was also considering a career change. I decided to pursue an 8 month journalism fellowship as the possible foundation for that change, but found that print news journalism didn't come easily.
In the meantime, my father, who had been ill with a rare blood disorder, became sicker. After completing my fellowship, I spent several months assisting him and after his passing, assumed increased responsibility for my intellectually disabled adult sibling for whom I became co-guardian. (My mother passed away from ovarian cancer several years earlier. )
For a time, I was overwhelmed with responsibilities related to my father's estate and given the losses and challenges I faced, the time period that followed was one of the most personally challenging of my life. I decided, eventually, to continue to pursue a career change in Atlanta, but after several months concluded that the change was unrealistic and found a temporary position similar to the Staff Attorney job I held at the beginning of my career. (I also interviewed and was offered an attorney position in Atlanta that I turned down, feeling that it would be unfulfilling, which I now view as a mistake, since it is always easier to find a job when you have a job.)
Since that time, Covid struck and I have been unemployed for about a year and a half. Luckily, my financial situation was stable and I was able to continue my job search when, a few months ago, in February 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since my diagnosis, I have been pursuing my job search whenever I can, a process I hope will be easier since I learned yesterday that chemotherapy will end a month early. I have been pursuing consultancies, international development and humanitarian assistance opportunities and related positions both in and out of government, but have not yet found a position. While I recognize that my professional background is presumably strong, I also feel crippled by my career gap (since the Interim Attorney position ended in 12/19), and the fact that I am no longer a young applicant (though this fact eluded me completely at the time I left my job).
My question is what approach would you suggest to address the multiple challenges that contributed to my career gap and what advice you would give me regarding pursuing my next role?