A resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview. You do not want to be screened out because of inaccurate and out-of-date resumes.
It’s not just about past jobs! It’s about YOU, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs–especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next. A good resume predicts how you might perform in that desired future job.
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The Chronological format is widely preferred by employers, and works well if you’re staying in the same field (especially if you’ve been upwardly-mobile). Only use a Functional format if you’re changing fields, and you’re sure a skills-oriented format would show off your transferable skills to better advantage; and be sure to include a clear chronological work history!
Review your past work, volunteer and personal experiences and relate it to the position you desire. You'd be surprised at how much overlap there actually is!
You could start by looking at it differently. General Rule: Tell what you WERE doing, as gracefully as possible–rather than leave a gap. If you were doing anything valuable (even if unpaid) during those so-called “gaps” you could just insert THAT into the work-history section of your resume to fill the hole. Here are some examples: -2015-17 Full-time parent — or -2020-21 Maternity leave and family management — or -Travel and study — or Full-time student — or Parenting plus community service
Then write a different resume for each different job target. A targeted resume is MUCH, much stronger than a generic resume.
To minimize the job-hopper image, combine several similar jobs into one “chunk,” for example: -1993-1995 Secretary/Receptionist; Jones Bakery, Micro Corp., Carter Jewelers — or -1993-95 Waiter/Busboy; McDougal’s Restaurant, Burger King, Traders Coffee Shop, skills you’ll need for your new job.
Fill your resume with “PAR” statements. PAR stands for Problem-Action-Results; in other words, first you state the problem that existed in your workplace, then you describe what you did about it, and finally you point out the beneficial results. Here’s an example: “Transformed a disorganized, inefficient warehouse into a smooth-running operation by totally redesigning the layout; this saved the company thousands of dollars in recovered stock.” Another example: “Improved an engineering company’s obsolete filing system by developing a simple but sophisticated functional-coding system. This saved time and money by recovering valuable, previously lost, project records.”
When you list it on the resume, either replace it with a more appropriate job title (say “Office Manager” instead of “Administrative Assistant” if that’s more realistic) OR use their job title.
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