April 11, 2013
5 resume tips for job hoppers
Here's a depressing truth: When hiring managers consider a resume, the first thing they look for is a reason to eliminate it.
And yes, even today, when staying at a firm long enough to earn a gold watch is practically unheard of, a major eliminator is what your friendly HR guy likes to call "job hopping." Go figure. It seems that companies still like to see signs of "employee loyalty" even if they don't show much in return.
This means that if your work history consists of multiple short-term jobs, your resume may be going straight into the trash. What to do? Try these tips:
1. List only your experience relevant to the job you're applying for. There's no law that says you have to name every single job you've ever had.
2. Don't call attention to your dates of employment -- i.e., don't use them as headers or set them off in the left-hand margin. Instead, put the dates after the job descriptions. Also, use years only, not months and years.
3. If you left a job because the position was eliminated (merger, mass layoff, etc.), be sure to say so.
4. If you've had a slew of freelance or contract jobs, lump them together. The purpose of a resume is to demonstrate you have the skills and experience for a particular position -- it's not your life story.
5. Write a dynamite cover letter where you demonstrate (a) your knowledge of the company you're seeking to join, and (b) the specific value you bring to your prospective employer.
One last thought: Is your job hunt focused on sending out huge quantities of resumes in hopes of getting interviews? Yikes.
The way to get interviews, and thus a job, is to go out into the real world where you meet and talk with people. A lot of people. If you've impressed a potential new boss with your intelligence and great attitude at a real-world encounter, your job-hopper history is going to matter a whole lot less.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at email@example.com.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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