Your resume does not need to be a narrative of everything you have ever done, rather a strategic picture of what you have done that supports your candidacy for what you want to do now.
Dear Sam: I am very perplexed! My career began when I was 17 years old, and now, as a nearly 40-year-old, I've been out of a job for more than two years.
I left two temporary jobs in 2012, unavoidably, without notice, due to my father's ailing health. One agency I was employed with I completed two separate assignments for and the other agency I was employed with for a month. The problem is that I left without 2 weeks' notice and their records indicate me as a "non-hire" status. I have had a stellar working history and do not wish these temporary assignments to overshadow my previous work ethic and future employment possibilities. How do I include those two agencies on my resume?
Also since 2013 I have been in school earning an MBA and will be completed by the summer. My interests include nonprofit management, community initiatives, new product development, and marketing. I've been applying to numerous jobs -- mostly entry-level -- to no avail. How can I make a great resume even better with the work gaps and possible employment agency blotches? - Tamela
Dear Tamela: You can absolutely omit your short-term and what sounds like rather unrelated employment agency experiences. Your resume does not need to be a narrative of everything you have ever done, rather a strategic picture of what you have done that supports your candidacy for what you want to do now. So, omitting such short-term roles that added little, if anything, to your candidacy, is perfectly acceptable and will not be looked at as anything but quite normal.
As for your employment gap, you have recent academic studies, so you've "filled" the gap. Just be sure to place your education section, or some note as to your recent pursuit of a graduate degree, up front on your resume so readers can understand why they won't see employment 2012 to present. In this day and age, returning to school is not uncommon, so it won't be looked at as odd that you didn't work over the past two years. You may want to use the combination approach (see past columns for an explanation of this approach, available online at www.ladybug-design.com/blog) so you minimize the appearance of the gap and showcase the strength of your prior experience. I'm certain, if presented appropriately, this will not impact the effectiveness of your search.
Dear Sam: I am 46 years old and looking for a job. I am working on updating my resume and was wondering how to list my education. I graduated from high school and attended college for just one year before going to work for a local manufacturer. I worked my way up from a line associate to an assistant manager in the Stamping Department before I was let go last year. I have more than 10 years of management experience but no college degree. How much (if any) of my education should I list on my resume? Should I put down that I attended college for one year but did not graduate or just leave it off all together? - Jay
Dear Jay: So many of my clients are in exactly your position, and typically, I will not include an education section on their resumes. The rationale for omitting is that by presenting an education section all you will do is point out a qualification you do not possess, thereby giving the reader a way to screen you out. Given the first year of college is focused on general education requirements, your studies likely did not provide you with specific knowledge related to your current career targets, so omitting all together is likely the most appropriate strategy. If you do find yourself applying for positions that really stress the need for a high school diploma, making no mention of the need for any college, I would go ahead and present the year in college to ensure the reader understands you possess the required diploma, but only do that for positions where they may be unsure that you have a diploma unless you state it as such. I will say that I rarely find education to be the reason a candidate doesn't get the job; you really would not believe the number of senior-level candidates I work with that do not have a degree. Focus on how your experience differentiates you, as that is the true way you qualify for a position. Best of luck.
Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit ladybug-design.com or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).
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