Dear Sam: l lost my job as a district manager in 2008. Since then, I have bounced around, holding two jobs each lasting six months. I am afraid that I may not be hired by another company, as I am 59 years old. What would you suggest? - Simon
Dear Simon: First, determine an appropriate amount of experience to list on your résumé. Based on the level which you want to pursue, I would imagine that would be between 10 and 15 years of experience. You may want to omit one of your recent short-term positions-as I am assuming they are not incredibly strong, based on your short tenure-as doing so would not cause a gap when only presenting years and not months of employment. As your district manager position would include many more accomplishments, I would suggest having a Select Highlights section on your résumé where your achievements could be previewed on page one of your résumé. By doing this, you will push your most recent, short-term experience toward the bottom of page one (or the top of page two) of your résumé, ensuring it plays a much less significant role during the screening process. Once you present a strategic amount of experience (to avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy), highlight your accomplishments up front, and minimize the impact of having moved around twice in one year through omission of one of the short-term positions, you will find you have a strong résumé that will open doors.
Dear Sam: I am 43 years old with 20 years of work experience in sales, management, customer service, and business ownership. I recently returned to school and graduated with a finance degree last year. I am beginning my job search in the finance sector and am wondering if I should list my entire job history as I have done in the past. - Tracey
Dear Tracey: Congratulations on your recent graduation! To answer your question, no, you would likely not want to list your entire 20-year career on your résumé. As I imagine you are going to need to position your candidacy at a more junior level-as you don't have finance experience in your background-presenting 20 years of work experience would only make you seem overqualified and too expensive. Instead, present your most recent experience, maybe 7-10 years, and utilize your coursework and any class projects to infuse your résumé with finance keywords. Depending on the abundance, or lack thereof, of projects to present, you could even consider adding a section to your résumé with your academic experiences and highlights. Doing so would allow you to fully explore the finance knowledge you have, add those ever so important keywords to your résumé, and push less related experiences further down on page one of your résumé.
Dear Sam: I retired from the Department of Defense with 31 years of service. During those years, I held different positions. At this time, I have been trying to find a part-time position, with no luck. Most of the part-time jobs I have located are for positions similar to what I did more than 10 years ago (or longer). How can I incorporate my older work experience, in my résumé, to be considered for a part-time job now? - Carole
Dear Carole: To avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy, include only your most recent positions with dates you performed each role after your titles (placing dates after titles instead of after the organization's name allows you to avoid presenting the fact you have worked there since the 70s, thus not showing the amount of experience you have), and add a byline (sort of a good disclaimer!) to note that you have additional experience with the organization. You should focus on the past 10 or so years of employment and the related achievements and responsibilities. To incorporate notes about your previous positions, while avoiding presenting years upon years of experience, add a career highlights section to your résumé. You may want to employ a functional approach to this section if you are trying to highlight certain areas that relate to your current job search. By this, I mean include a career highlights section after your qualifications summary but before your professional experience section. Within this section, utilize functional subheadings to focus the hiring manager's attention on the experiences within your background that support or enhance your candidacy for what you want to do now. Here you can highlight achievements and responsibilities related to the positions you held 10+ years ago, without exploring them in detail within the professional experience section. In the professional experience section, after you hit about the 10-year mark, you can take the byline approach to present additional positions. This is essentially a note stating that you have additional experience within certain positions or arenas. Then when the hiring manager inquires about the items you have listed in the career highlights section, he or she will understand where they came from through inclusion of the byline statement. I wish you well.