resume on a desk flat lay

As an adult student pursuing an academic degree at Averett University, it’s quite possible you have held some different jobs in your career thus far. Perhaps that is what has motivated you to go back to school. Whether your past employers have downsized, gone out of business, or you simply chose to leave the position on your own, there are lots of legitimate reasons people change jobs. While it’s not uncommon to explore various employment opportunities while in pursuit of the dream job, trying to present your work history on a resume can be a challenge.

The purpose of sending your resume to a company is to get noticed and be invited to participate in a phone interview or an in-person meeting. It’s not to land the job outright (though sometimes that does happen). It’s to be given the opportunity to explore the position and the company further to see if it might be a place where you’d love to spend 40+ hours of your life each week. If you’ve been employed at a number of different places for short periods of time, or if you have gaps between jobs, how you choose to present that information will make all the difference in whether you get considered as a viable candidate.

When you have gaps in employment…

Instead of including the specific months and/or years when you worked at a particular company, simply put the number of years you were at each position.

So, instead of writing this on your resume:

Assistant Manager, 2012-2014
ABC COMPANY city and state

Lead Customer Service Associate, 2004-2009
XYZ COMPANY city and state

You would put this:

Assistant Manager, 2 years
ABC COMPANY city and state

Lead Customer Service Associate, 5 years
XYZ COMPANY city and state

When you lost or quit your job this year…

Whether you lost your job in January or you just quit a month ago, present that job in the present tense. You are more marketable if it looks like you are still employed. If you put the end date of employment as 2017 on your resume, it will raise that proverbial flag. The reader would wonder why you are not still there if you did such an awesome job while you were there. Since you won’t be sitting next to the hiring manager when he/she first reads your resume, you won’t have the opportunity to explain why you left or what happened. Once you get the phone call or the in-person interview, you can then share that you just haven’t updated your resume yet, but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to apply for the available position.

So, instead of writing this on your resume:

Account Manager, 2012-2017
ABC COMPANY city and state

You would put this:

Account Manager, 2012-present
ABC COMPANY city and state

When you’ve had a lot of jobs in a short period of time…

If you’ve worked over 90 days at a company, and if that company is in the industry where you want to be, then you can still include it on the resume (as long as you left on good terms). Perhaps you had to relocate, or they had to downsize, or you were recruited by another company. There are lots of acceptable and understandable reasons why you might leave a company after a short period. If, however, you did not make it to 90 days and the employer told you it just isn’t working out, don’t include them on your resume. 90 days is typically the trial period to see if a new employee is a good fit. There’s no sense sharing with a prospective employer that another employer wasn’t interested in keeping you on board after working with you for less than 90 days.

So, instead of writing this on your resume:

Machine Operator, May 2016-September 2016
ABC COMPANY city and state

You would put this:

Machine Operator (no dates whatsoever!)
ABC COMPANY city and state

Again, the purpose of your resume is to get the chance to learn more about the position and see if it would be a good fit for you. It’s not to share every single detail about your past employment. By leaving dates off and by changing the actual dates to the number of years, you open up the opportunity for conversation, and you give the prospective employer something to ask you about when he/she calls. Keep a printed, hard copy of your resume near you once you start sending it out, and be prepared to share the actual dates of employment (if/when asked) and the reasons you are no longer employed (if/when asked).

Since your resume will be the first piece of information a prospective employer will receive to learn about you, you might consider hiring a professional resume writing service to develop and design your resume package. If you know you are qualified for a position but do not hear back from the prospective employer, the chances are pretty good that there was something wrong with how you presented yourself on your resume.

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