Too Many Jobs on Your Resume?
When Jason, a 37-year old manager, emailed his old resume to our office for
professional rewriting, it was obvious at first glance that we would have our
work cut out for us. Although Jason had graduated from college 16 years ago in
1991, there were a total of nine jobs on his old resume. He also mentioned to us
in his email that he had "a couple more jobs" for us to add.
According to a U.S. Department of Labor study, changing jobs is common in
today's workplace, "The average American worker between ages 37 and 45 in 2002
had changed jobs 10.2 times. For workers who started a new job between ages 33
and 38, a total of 39 percent reported that they changed jobs again within a
year and 70 percent changed jobs again within five years."
These changes can be due to employee choices or layoffs. In fact, the data show
that today's college graduates will change jobs 10-14 times during their careers
and the average job will last just three to five years.
After strategically retooling Jason's resume, we were able to use effective
techniques to create a document that would prove far more effective in attracting
the types of job offers that he really wanted. At the same time, as a member of a
professional resume writing association with strong ethical standards for
professionalism, I wanted to ensure that Jason's resume was well within the
bounds of accuracy and honesty.
Here are the four techniques used by professional resume writers to help clients
avoid the "Jobhopper" label:
1. Consider dropping jobs that are of very short duration, seasonal, or part-
time. A resume is designed to serve as a career summary or overview, not
necessarily an exact recitation of each and every job a candidate has ever had.
Years ago, I coined the expression, "A resume is not a dossier." However, if
removing certain jobs creates a "gap" in the timeline, it should be carefully
reviewed before dropping. (Note: Since many modern resumes use only years, and
not months, to document the duration of each position, dropping some shorter
positions will generally not necessarily create a noticeable gap.)
2. Consider "aggregating" or combining some jobs. In Jason's case, he had several
nearly identical positions on his old resume, one after the other, as assistant
manager at mall-based retail stores. Even though they were for different
employers and there were some slight differences in the duties, we were able to
create a single assistant manager job description covering a 5-year period that
listed all three employers and provided a great overview of his combined duties,
responsibilities, and accomplishments.
Even though anyone can see that they were three separate jobs, the psychological
effect of combining those three items into one was undeniable. Remember,
employers often make split-second decisions on the desirability of a candidate
based upon 10-second glances at piles of resumes.