Dear Sam: I have had four interview requests within the past six weeks. While this is encouraging, the application process may be disqualifying me as a candidate. The application reveals my age by asking for my birthdate. I handle the age issue by reminding the interviewer that I do not intend on retiring for many years. When the application asks for my past salary history, I am answering honestly, potentially disqualifying me from the lower-paying jobs I am applying for. Do I leave my salary history blank? – Cal
Dear Cal: Salary questions are so touchy. The school of thought is that whoever brings up salary first loses. If you do not have to include salary history data, I would avoid providing that information. Unfortunately, however many applications require those fields and, if completing the application online, sometimes the application will not proceed to the next question without specific answers being completed. When this is the case, if there is a space for comments—or if you have direct access to the employer via an introductory email or in-person interview—I would make it clear that while your salary history reflects a certain level, you are not seeking compensation in that range for your next role. Being honest and forthright can only help your chances in this case, given you feel you are being disqualified based on this information alone.
Now, another thing you may be able to do is not provide information on every job you have held since the infancy of your career. Be sure to read the application language carefully. If it calls for you to enter every position ever held, you must do so, but perhaps it is only asking for 10 years or maybe the last 5 jobs. Just be sure you are not giving away more information that is required based on a careful review of the application language. I do understand, however, that when an application asks for your birthdate, there is little you can do not to convey your age. Sometimes I find that candidates expect to have to present “everything” on an application when the language doesn’t demand such detail. Try to emulate the more strategic picture you have created on your resume when at all possible to ensure the application does not serve as a potential disqualifier. Best of luck.
Dear Sam: I hope you can help! I am in a specialized field. I am a minister who needs to have my resume tailored for two different prospects. Also, it is my understanding resumes nowadays are only one page. Am I correct about this perspective? I would like to be able to use my resume to apply for a congregation to preach for and use my resume to apply for funding. I am in the process of launching a nonprofit, and my attorney told me I must have a strong resume when I write for grants. One of my goals is to open a yoga meditation studio in an underserved part of the city. To make this happen, I must have funding. Thanks for the help! – Reverend
Dear Reverend: I love your passion and desire to contribute to an underserved area of your community. I believe you can have one resume and meet both of your objectives, and you do not have to stick to one page (that’s an outdated rule at least 15 years old!). As your background, community outreach work, and contributions to your congregation would be key selling points in securing grant funds, your resume positioning you as a minister will also work very well for obtaining grant funding. Your resume would be developed just like any other in terms of adhering to today’s best practices, but you would, of course, have more room to include more personal elements such as your mission and vision, your outreach to the community, and your experience personally and perhaps professionally with yoga meditation. Of course, you would need to balance this—at least for your funding audience—with the presentation of your business skills and strengths in launching an operation from the ground up. I wish you luck!