Dear Sam: I am an RN with 45 years of experience with the last 10 years as an RN Case Manager. In February of this year, I retired temporarily due to my husband’s illness as I needed to oversee his care. He has since recovered, and I desire to get back into the workforce on a part-time basis. I have updated my resume—which is in a functional format due to my many years of experience and varied specialties—however, I am still unsure if I should exclude any of the information in my resume since all of my experience is valuable in case management.
My resume is two pages long and might be better shortened. I have not started an extensive job search yet, as I am unsure whether my resume does or does not reflect who I am and what I can do. I have attached a copy for your review. – Mary Lou
Dear Mary Lou: What great experience you have, but presenting history into the 1970s is never a good idea. One will assume you are expensive and will begin to wonder how much longer you want or can work. I know these are unfortunate assumptions, but they will occur. You do not need to have 45 years of experience to qualify for a case manager job. Presenting just the past 10 years plus your prior 10-year clinical role would suffice. Presenting 45 years doesn’t make you MORE QUALIFIED; it makes you OVERQUALIFIED. Unfortunately, it is rare when an overqualified candidate gets the job.
I would suggest right-sizing your experience and presenting more of a traditional reverse chronological resume with just 2000-2020 presented. Unfortunately, that is the minimum you can present, given that your last two roles were 10 years each. No need to show what you did in 2020 outside of your case manager job—while you were caring for your husband—as we are still in 2020, so there is no need to “fill a gap.” Present only years—not months and years—on your resume, and the recent gap in employment will disappear.
In a reverse chronological resume, you should fully explore your last two roles, presenting your “job” for context as well as your key contributions. Think about what you did above and beyond expectations: How did you add value to your employer? What did you do that was not part of your job description? Explore these fully, given you do not have the additional 25 years of experience to present. Depending on how much value you contributed (i.e., how many accomplishments you have to present) will determine whether your resume is 1 or 2 pages; with 20 years of experience to present, though, one would expect your resume to be 2 pages in length.
If you open with a robust qualifications summary—not an objective statement like you have—you also will have a much stronger presentation of your candidacy. In the summary, present your key qualifications as a case manager, leveraging your clinical foundation as a value-added credential. I believe that with this presentation of your career, you will be seen as a much more competitive candidate; still probably viewed as slightly overqualified, at times, but there is nothing you can do about that, given the length of your last two positions. I think this approach will make your candidacy most marketable and will help you out-maneuver some of your competitors with less experience. Remember, add value to your resume with your key contributions/accomplishments, and employers will be more likely to “see” what they will get with the experience you bring. I hope this advice helps you get on the right track and back to a position you enjoy.