Dear Sam: I am an electrical engineer in my fifties and looking for ways to not show my age in my résumé, which I think is adversely affecting my job search. I deleted the dates from my college degrees and also deleted my earliest job experience. However, I still show my dates of employment for each of the jobs that I have included, such as 1995-2002. Do you think this is a problem, and is there a good way to omit these dates without raising the suspicion of gaps in employment? - John
Dear John: Omitting dates of employment from all positions will definitely raise enough red flags that it will likely prevent you from getting in the door every time. You have taken the right approach in omitting your year of graduation and excluding earlier experience. I typically start thinking about whether an experience is adding value to someone's candidacy when I start seeing dates back in the very early '90s and '80s; it's then that I really need to see a compelling reason to include that early experience, for it to make the cut on a résumé. As long as your content is in line with today's industry jargon, and you are not opening your résumé with a statement like, more than 20 years' experience, you should be seen as not such a seasoned professional and be a little more competitive in the job market.
Dear Sam: I have been considering putting my picture on my résumé. I think that seeing a person, instead of just a list of qualifications, would generate additional interest. Is this a common practice and something that you think would be a good thing to do for a recent grad? - James
Dear James: No, placing a headshot on a résumé is not a common practice, and it should be avoided unless your face is key to what you do. In other words, if you have a recognizable face or are in a field where your looks play a significant role in your success, like a model, on-air broadcaster, etc. Using your image really won't generate additional interest for your résumé; instead, the hiring manager will wonder why you included your picture. The only times I have used a headshot on a résumé have been for clients within the music industry who use a candid or artistic image rather than a traditional headshot, or for C-level executives or sales managers who have a recognizable name and face. Stick to using your education, skills, and accomplishments to garner the hiring manager's interest.
Dear Sam: I last updated my résumé six years ago. I am now required to submit a résumé as part of an accreditation review. The problem lies in that my degree is in one field (Education), and I am currently working in another field, in which I have more than 20 years of experience, but no master's degree. Is it acceptable to list your educational background without mentioning the type or kind of degree you hold? Thank you. - Karen
Dear Karen: If it would detract from your candidacy to include your degree in Education, then yes, it is fine to simply list the type of degree you have without the major. You would just list the degree-granting institution followed by the degree you hold, whether B.S. or B.A., with no note as to the major. That is a pretty common strategy for those who need to minimize the appearance of having unrelated education or even a previous career.
Dear Sam: I have been with the same company for almost 5 years and enjoy the position, but am realizing I can't stay with the company because of the seasonality of the work which has long layoff periods followed by months of frantic overtime. I would like to use this layoff time to search for and apply for new positions, but also have enough respect for my coworkers that, should something new arise, I would not want to leave them in a lurch with the busy season on the horizon. In the same token, I do not want to appear demanding or unreasonable to employers who are usually looking for someone to start soon by stating that I would not be available until winter. Is there a diplomatic way to indicate on my cover letter or résumé that I would like to inquire about a position for the near future, out of respect for my current position? - Beth
Dear Beth: Winter is really just around the corner, and while I understand you want to be, and should be, completely honest during your job search, it will not benefit you to communicate conditions of hire in your cover letter. Instead, get your foot in the door, learn of the position and timeline for hiring, and then while negotiating, present your conditions. Doing so up front will almost surely prevent you from getting in the door, leaving you conducting a job search while you are in a layoff period with what I imagine is a much reduced income. You can still follow through on any commitment you have with your current employer while taking care of yourself and your career needs.