I’ve held several positions where I have been responsible for interviewing and hiring so I might have some tips for you. It sounds like you are getting interviewed, just not hired, so your resume does not sound like the problem. A key thing that you mentioned is being located in the South and it has been my experience that women “dress up” more there than they did when I lived in New England. If you have not already done so, hit one of the nicer department stores during the week when they aren’t busy and request assistance from a sales clerk. Tell them that you need an interviewing outfit that looks professional and youthful. No double-knit, polyester dresses! Buy a real suit with a blouse and top. Wear tasteful jewelry to match….one ring per hand, one or no bracelets, wrist watch, simple earrings. If you have tattoos…find an outfit that covers them. Your nails need to be a normal length…no talons! Do you wear make-up? If not, buy some mascara and brown eyeshadow and a neutral lipstick and wear it just for the interview(s). Once you are hired you can always revert back to a more natural look or a wilder look..whichever fits for you :) If all of this seems superficial and phony….IT IS!! But decisions are usually made during the first 15-20 SECONDS of meeting an applicant as to whether or not they are a “fit” for the job. That means the decision to go further with you is being made on totally artificial grounds.
Now..suppose you say…I’ve done all that. Have the suit, the make-up, the hair, the whole nine-yards and you still are not getting hired. Then you need a someone to take a hard cold look at the way you are presenting yourself to see if something is getting in the way. Does your perfume precede you? Is your idea of an interviewing outfit a lime green pant suit with matching plastic jewelry? Are you wearing dark pumps or gold lame sandals? How about your hairstyle…has it changed in 30 years? Don’t laugh…I’ve interviewed people wearing all of the above AND one woman who applied for a job that paid over $100,000 a year wearing a jogging suit! Don’t get me started about the guy who came to an interview drunk and had just gotten out of rehab…
Bottom line, you might have to spend a bit of money up front to get past the initial interview. You will more than make up for what you spend though in your first month on the job. You want them to see the real you who is professional and accomplished but they’ll never get that far if you don’t have the “look” they want. It sucks but it is the reality.
Good luck and please let us know how it goes. :)