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Resume Connection: Resume Tips, #26

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Resume Finesse: Tell Me Again, Why Did You Leave Your Last Job After Six Months?

by Teena Rose of Résumé to Referral

That’s not a question you want to field during an important job interview, especially if the details are gory. And why would you be asked such a question? Because you included it on your resume so that it would be sure to come up during the interview

A resume isn’t just a bunch of facts typed up neatly. A resume presents the best picture of you, the professional. A good resume shines a spotlight on your business accomplishments while sweeping your shortfalls and shortcomings under the carpet (or at least putting the best face on these ‘difficult’ resume entries.)


The Fudge Factor

There’s a big difference between emphasizing career highlights and creating highlights that never took place. 

During your last semester of college you dropped out to tour as a roadie with Aerosmith. Good times. But, you never quite went back to get that degree. You almost got it, but not quite. 

You might be tempted to apply the fudge factor here and claim a degree that you haven’t quite earned. Don’t do it. Your resume must be 110% accurate in every fact. However, what facts are included or excluded and how the remaining facts are positioned are simply aspects of good resume preparation. 

Resume Blemish #1: 12 Jobs in Four Years

You quit for a better job, got laid off, downsized, moved across country and picked up an additional certification so your staying power at any one position is rightfully suspect to a prospective employer. 

Pick the jobs that are most relevant to the one for which you’re applying. No lies. Just put your relevant experience to the forefront. 

Provide accurate employment start and end dates and when the subject comes up during an interview, you’ll be prepared to explain the holes in your work history. This brings up blemish number two. 

Resume Blemish #2: Holes in Your Work History

Prospective employers like to see a nice, steady work history with nice, steady advancement as you move from company to company: more responsibilities, more varied experience, and greater impact on the company’s bottom line. (It all comes down to the bottom line.) That’s what your next employer is looking for. 

So how do you explain the fact that you left your last job in the previous millennium? Or that two year block of time when you hiked through the Andes? 

Holes like this stand out, but they can be addressed in your cover letter. Again, honesty counts, so be truthful. You’ve been out of the workforce since 1999 raising your family, and now, you’re ready to re-enter the job market (with your completely up-to-date skill set). Or, you wanted to follow your dream to trek the Andes before you got too old. Straight up, tell the truth.


The Resume Statute of Limitations

Typically, you can leave off anything older than 10 years. In today’s job market, anything before that is ancient history. So, if you had a few “misfires” early in your career, leave them off. 

Also, if your most relevant experience also happens to be your most recent (usually the case as you work your way up the ladder), you can omit that old two-year stint as a bank teller before you got into marketing. Again, the key is to choose selectively the information that best demonstrates your value as the company’s newest employee.


Finally, the Details

Read it. Reread it. Read it again. Have your spouse read it, the kids, or your mother-in-law – anybody you can collar. You’re looking for input and reaction. Does it grab your attention? Does this sound right? Edit and polish each entry accordingly. 

Proof it. No mistakes. No spelling errors, grammar’s up to snuff, proper format. If it’s professional, it’s perfect.


Don’t Try This at Home

If you don’t have a clue how to structure your work history and play down your job-jumping binge, hire a professional resume preparer. It’ll cost a few bucks, but it’ll be the best investment in your future you ever make.


Teena Rose operates a prominent and professional resume writing service, Resume to Referral. She’s authored several career books, including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer" "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book" and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."


Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM
Resume to Referral
7211 Taylorsville Road, Office 208
Huber Heights, OH 45424
Phone: (937) 236-1360
Fax: (937) 236-1351


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