When constructing a resume, there are so many factors to consider from your education and experience to awards and community involvement. While there are a ton of resume samples you can look to for help, there are some things that are just difficult to put on a resume. There are certain items on a resume that can spell disaster for any job seeker if noted incorrectly. The way you present yourself on that resume can either open the door to a successful interview leading to the job of your dreams or have your resume end up in the “round file” for good. You definitely don’t want that.
No one is perfect. Many job seekers have issues in their professional past that can be a challenge to note on a resume for fear it may cost them an opportunity. The truth is your past can either work for you or against you. It’s YOUR choice. A good resume writer can show you how this is done so don’t be afraid to invest in one. Below is a list of some of the more common items job seekers avoid putting on their resumes. Having one or more of these on your resume won’t necessarily be the end of the world for you and if noted properly and explained well, can turn out to be an asset to you.
1. Short term positions
Short term positions whether they are project, contract or full-time won’t hinder you from landing the interview and job of your dreams. If it was a project or contract/consulting/temp role, it’s OK to mention that in your resume. Even though your time with that particular employer was short, you may have picked up some great skills during your time there. You may have presented some solid ideas that yielded positive results or took on some new challenges. These are all things that, if presented in the right way on your resume and in an interview can paint you in the ideal light. Don’t be afraid to list a former role on your resume just because it lasted less than a year. There may be some experience there that will make you more attractive to a future employer and you don’t want to leave anything like that off. Employers are more focused on your background and if you are now ready for a long term role, make that clear in your interview.
2. In process or incomplete education
Many job seekers fail to include certain educational criteria because it is incomplete. This is a huge mistake! The work that you’ve done working toward your degree means something. The classes you’ve taken and education you’ve gained is important and valuable. If you are currently in school and expect to graduate in the near future, note that on your resume. It shows that you’re ambitious and truly care about your future. It shows that you are an asset. If you are one of the many people who began and for one reason or another were not able to finish your degree, there are ways to note that positively on a resume as well. If you fit into this category, know that you are not alone. Life happens and sometimes you have to make huge sacrifices for a greater good. It is possible to note this on your resume without fear. Focus on the relative coursework you completed and how that part of your education coupled with your experience has prepared you for your next opportunity. If you have plans on returning to school, say so! The fact that you’ve faced a major setback and are still able to get back up and finish what you started makes you look like a fighter who is committed and sees things through to the end. That is an excellent quality for any candidate to posses!
3. Long periods of unemployment
Many face this challenge and are unsure about how to include this on a resume. Many don’t acknowledge it at all. They simply leave a 6 month-3 year gap on their resume and expect an employer or recruiter not to notice it or think we will disregard it. Let me make this perfectly clear –we notice it and we will not disregard it. When I see a resume with a significant gap, that’s usually one of the first questions I ask during the initial phone screen. I want to know what happened and I know that the hiring manager will want to know what happened as well. Some attempt to hide it by turning it into a position such as “Domestic Engineer for 2 years” or “Strategic Job Seeker for 3 years.”
This is NOT the way to handle this in a resume.
If you were a new mom and decided to stay home with the children for 2 years, say so. You’re human and you have a real life and it’s OK if that real life interrupted your career for a while. Be honest about what happened. If you were consulting or volunteering during that time, make it a point to share that experience on your resume. You won’t want it to seem like you were just sitting home watching television eating chips for over a year. When you interview, explain it briefly and then get back to talking about your skills. Don’t dwell on it longer than you need to. Remember that you’re a strong candidate who either took a break or hit a bump in the road and now you’re ready to get back to work. Period!
It’s all about HOW you present the information. That’s what counts. Present it in a way that puts your skills and talents in the forefront. Don’t look at it as a handicap and no one else will either. A professional can certainly assist with turning these potential negatives into positives so seek one out!
Best of luck to you!
The Founder of Offer Stage Consulting, Pamela Shand is a Professional Resume Writer and Interview Coach with a background in Recruitment and Talent Management for Fortune 100 companies, start-ups and non-profit organizations. She successfully works with job seekers at all levels from new grads to executives.