Dear Sam: l lost my management job a year ago. Since then, I have held two positions, each lasting six months. I am afraid that I may not be hired by another company, as I am 59 years old. What would you suggest? – Simon
Dear Simon: First, determine an appropriate amount of experience to list on your resume. Based on the level you want to pursue, I would imagine that would be between 10 and 15 years. You may want to omit the earlier of your recent short-term positions—as I am assuming they are not incredibly strong, based on your short tenure—as doing so would not cause a gap when only presenting years and not months of employment. Let me explain: as you left your longer-term role in 2020, held one 6-month position in 2020, and have since held another 6-month position that would have lasted 2020-2021, you can easily list the second of the short-term roles without causing a “gap.”
As your manager position would include many more accomplishments, I suggest having a “Select Highlights” section on your resume where your achievements could be previewed on page one of your resume (called the Combination resume format). By doing this, you will push your most recent, short-term experience toward the bottom of page one (or the top of page two), ensuring it plays a much less significant role during the screening process. Once you present a strategic amount of experience (to avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy), highlight your accomplishments upfront, and minimize the impact of having moved around twice in one year, you will find you have a strong resume that will open doors.
Dear Sam: I am within my first five years post-undergrad. I am an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and a civilian employee with the government. I am contemplating moving to the civilian sector; however, my combined military service and civilian occupations span many specialties. As an officer, I have worked in logistics and public relations—in leadership roles—both stateside and combat. As a civilian, I work in human resources and pay administration in a non-supervisory position. How and what should I include in my resume? – Laura
Dear Laura: Wow, that is quite a diverse background! First, thank you for your service to our country. Now, to answer your question. What you should include versus omit depends entirely on what you want to pursue next. You will, of course, want to include all of your positions, but you can strategically tailor the content in the way in which it best supports your candidacy today. A resume is a picture of your background written so that it positions you best for what you want to do next. So, if the logistics aspects of your experience do not support your current career target(s), then you can certainly put those on the back burner or omit them entirely. What I imagine will need to happen is that you will have to develop two or perhaps three solid versions of your resume. The first might be more operationally focused, the second in the PR and communications arena, and the third presenting your human resources skill set. You could develop one primary resume—with each area of your experience introduced with a functional subheading—and then reprioritize content based on the type of role you are applying for. In each resume, you would also want to build a targeted qualifications summary. This approach will allow you to present the targeted picture critical to success in today’s job market while also keeping your options as open as possible. Best of luck.