Education Career Services

August 28, 2009

Repaving and Resurfacing the Resume Road

The following was submitted by Kimberly Sarmiento.  Kimberly recently published a career management book covering the in’s and out’s of cover letter development.  She is also a writer for Education Career Services.  Given the length of her submission, I will present the first half today and will then follow-up with the conclusion on Monday, August 31st.  I’m confident you will find her submission to be helpful…

August 28Some clients have a direct progression in their employment history.  Their career path is like a long stretch of freshly paved interstate, no speed bumps, no pot-holes, and no off-ramps.

But there are others out there, including myself, who have more interesting employment histories.  Our career path is like a county road with large divots and plenty of side streets – we might even switch to dirt road and back to blacktop again. 

These types of resumes may need to address frequent job changes, seemingly unrelated positions, and time off for personal reasons.  That’s ok!  You don’t have to drive along an employment interstate to have plenty to offer a potential employer.  You just have to know how to make the scenic drive look as appealing as possible. 

Fill in Pot-Holes:

The consensus of the three major resume writing associations is that years are enough for your employment history.  So right from the start, you can eliminate “holes” in your resume if you went unemployed for a few months by just using your starting and ending year.

Don’t Do:         Most Recent Position: Employer: March 2009-Present.
                        Previous Position: Employer: Jan. 2004- April 2008

Do:                   Most Recent Position: Employer: 2009-Present
                        Previous Position: Employer: 2004-2008

Connect the Dots:

Seemingly unrelated positions, particularly those that appear unrelated to the position you are applying for may give a hiring manager a reason to overlook your resume.  That is why it is best to lead with accomplishments – not your job history.

When you begin your resume by highlighting your skills and accomplishments, you show right from the start that you are qualified for the position you seek.  It doesn’t matter if you achieved market growth while working as an underwater basket weaver and you are now applying for a business development position.  If you have the figures and data to back up your claims, that it what will sell you to your potential employer.

Keep the Road Going:

Having spent several years as a stay-at-home mom, I am familiar with the gap that can leave in your resume.  Hopefully, you will have spent some time working in a volunteer capacity or in part-time or freelance positions that will keep your resume current. 

NOTE: If you are in the middle of taking time off for personal reasons – pursue opportunities now – education, volunteer, or part-time – that will reflect well in your resume when you return to work full-time.

If you have, then use these positions to create a continuous, if unconventional, career path.  If you have not, then you will need to address these gaps in your resume during your interview so be prepared to discuss why your skills are still sharp and what you have learned during your time off that will add to your value.

Once again, leading with your accomplishments will be an invaluable strategy if you are in this position.  You do not need to identify a time frame for you key bullet points.  You simple need to show the action you took and the results.  If you saved a company $2M and increased revenue $10M, it really doesn’t matter if it happened five years ago – those are still results you should own and spotlight.

On the 31st Kimberly will take us to the next level: Proving you are a safe driver.  Until then, let me hear from you and if you have specific questions or topics you would like covered, give me a shout.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:


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