Dear Sam: I currently own and run a very successful consulting business on a part-time basis. I also maintain a full-time job. My question is how I incorporate my skills and experience gained from my own business onto my résumé. The work experience is tremendous. – Shawn

Dear Shawn: How you incorporate your consulting experience is somewhat based on your current career objective. If your goal is to secure a new full-time position, and I am assuming it is as you are creating a résumé, then you need to tread lightly when highlighting self-employment. When presenting your own business in addition to a full-time position, a hiring manager may feel you would be a short-term employee if your own business became successful enough to only work for yourself. Moreover, if you are seeking a challenging full-time engagement, some might question your commitment to your employer, worrying you might be moonlighting on the job. While this is unfortunate, if you have another engagement, you may not have the availability to stay late, work weekends, etc., something that might be required of your full-time role.

To highlight related self-employment experience without disqualifying yourself for any of the above reasons, you might want to include your consulting experience in a second professional experience section on your résumé. You would therefore first present, and focus on, your full-time positions, and in a second section titled “Consulting Engagements” present your self-employment. By doing this you can easily incorporate highlights from either track of your career in your cover letter, qualifications summary, and even an accomplishments section.

I mention an accomplishments section as depending on the chronology of your career and the strength of your accomplishments from your full-time positions, it may serve you well to pull out accomplishments and place them on page one of your résumé. As you mentioned your consulting experience is very valuable, this would allow you to highlight that experience without showcasing that it was performed during an independent engagement. To do this, simply list your accomplishments, noting the employer or client name at the end of the sentence. Then, in the consulting experience section, be sure to note the same clients for consistency, and so the hiring manager will understand the scope of the engagement.

By following this strategy you will showcase your value to the hiring manager. You will also have all of your critical data on page one of your résumé, and perhaps most importantly, not disqualify yourself by being seen as a budding entrepreneur seeking interim full-time employment.

Dear Sam: In 2004 I left corporate America to take care of my two young children. I worked part-time for a while until the next company went out of business in 2005. I then attended a certification course for about a year. I am concerned about the employment gap in my résumé and whether it is appropriate to address the fact that I stayed home with my children. Thanks. – Lois

Dear Lois: There is no need to address the reason for your gap in employment on your résumé or cover letter. When the hiring manager reads your résumé, notices the gap, and sees that you are a woman, they will assume you took time off to stay home with a child. You do not need to address this at all, and instead should focus on your previous experiences, achievements, and continued professional development. By concentrating on your work experience, versus the reason for your absence from the workforce, you focus the hiring manager’s attention on the areas that enhance or support your candidacy, leaving the gap in employment as a minimal factor in your evaluation.

Dear Sam: I spent 2 years pursuing my MBA but was not able to complete it. How can I present this on my résumé? – Seth

Dear Seth: You can present an incomplete degree by stating, “Pursued Master of Business Administration (2006-2008).” If you are still planning on completing your graduate degree, state the following, “Master of Business Administration (Anticipated 2010).” Of course, use the appropriate dates. Best of luck!