This week I have been working on a resume for a client with a sketchy work history. . . on paper. In all reality his work history has been steady but he has been at the mercy of a volatile industry that has left him holding many positions within a short amount of time. So while he has been a constant and dependable employee, when you put it all down on a resume he looks like a job hopper with a history of short term employment and certainly not the ideal candidate in the eyes of a hiring manager.
After years in the industry he was looking to move to a field that provided more security and better opportunities for long-term employment. He came to me for help because he was not sure how to address his career history and needed a strategy that would highlight his skills without scaring off potential employers. He was confident that if he could get in for an interview he would be able to address the red flags of his professional history. The trick was disguising those red flags as best I could in order to get him in for the interview.
Because his background was in sales he wanted to remain in sales but was targeting a different industry. We discussed different possibilities for his resume and decided on using a chronological/functional hybrid. I wanted to draw attention away from his many short-term positions and instead concentrated on his strong background in sales and his history of consistently increasing revenue for the companies that he worked for.
To do this I started his resume as I traditionally do, with a career summary that captured his value and his core transferable skills. Next, instead of launching into his career history as you would typically see on a resume I chose to highlight his many achievements and successes in sales in a section immediately following the summary. This is all on the first page of his resume and there is no mention of any company or longevity at all on the first page.
I wanted the reader to be ‘wowed’ right away by putting the information that was going to make them take notice front and center. If the first thing they would have seen on his resume was the fact that his previous three positions lasted 18 months or less they would have been less inclined to keep reading. This way they are immediately impressed by his stellar achievements and my hope is that when they do continue reading and see that he has held several short-term positions the negative impact will be lessened by what they read first.
Another strategy we used after his current position was to eliminate the dates of his employment. He has been at his current position for over three years so I kept the date to show his steadiness. However, I left the dates off the positions prior to that in order to keep the focus on his qualifications.
An additional issue we had to address was the fact that several of his positions were virtual positions located throughout the country. In addition to looking like a job hopper he also looked like he was moving back and forth with no real loyalty to one area or another when he was actually able to work from the same area for all the positions. To address this I removed the actual location of the company and instead labeled the location as remote based with his city of residence.
I think that the strategies I used on his resume effectively portray his strengths while downplaying what could be perceived as career weaknesses. This is a great example of how a traditional resume may not be right for every job seeker. You will find the most success with a resume that meets your specific needs and the uniqueness of your particular situation. Don’t be afraid to try different resume strategies in order create the strongest resume possible for you.
by Megan Koehler