Writing a resume can be challenging for anyone, even those who have a lot of work experience to cover. Ricklyn Woods, a University of Phoenix career advisor, stated that two problems can arise for people with an extensive job history when it comes to writing a resume.
One example is that having several decades of work experience can reveal a job candidate’s approximate age and make employers more prone to practicing age discrimination.
In another scenario, some people have a lot of work experience not because of their age but because they have held several short-term positions.
There could be legitimate reasons for this such as internships or contracting work, but employers may peg the applicant as a job hopper.
Regardless of why a job applicant has a lot of experience to list on a resume, Woods advised them to handle the situation with care.
When a Resume Reveals Too Much Experience
Job applicants are sometimes surprised to hear an employer say they are overqualified for a position. Woods said she has seen this all the time, especially when an applicant has more than 15 years of work experience.
Recruiters and hiring managers may not be willing to take a chance in this case because they assume the applicant’s salary requirements will be too high.
Even when that is not true, employers may express concern that the applicant will not be happy in the job or could only be using it as a stepping stone.
Woods recommended that applicants with more than 15 years of job history omit the dates from all but the most recent experiences.
Resume writers who want to include jobs from further back in their history can add a section titled “Additional Experience” to include basic details of those jobs without the dates.
This approach shifts a recruiter’s attention away from chronology and more toward the skills and values the applicant would bring to the job.
Tips for Applicants with Many Jobs
Woods has had a long career in human resources and career counseling. Before joining the University of Phoenix, she worked in human resources for 15 years and had a private coaching business for three years.
The biggest mistake Woods has seen over her two decades in the field is people submitting resumes that are much too long. Although she recommended a maximum two-page resume, Woods has seen resumes as long as six pages.
The first key to whittling a resume down is for job candidates to tailor what they include to match the specific job advertised. Woods cautioned job seekers that casting too large of a net will only result in frustration.
In her experience, job seekers with a defined strategy typically experience the greatest success.
Recruiters can tell right away when people submit resumes just because a position is open. They want to see that the applicant has taken time to research the company and has a solid understanding of what the position entails.
Job applicants should still send cover letters that briefly describe what the resume includes and demonstrate themselves as offering significant value to the company.
Tie Skills and Experience to Keywords Mentioned in the Job Advertisement
People with a lot of job experience should expect to edit their resumes at least a few times. Remember the goal is to say as much as possible with as few words as possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a software program will most likely scan the resume before it lands in front of a recruiter or hiring manager.
Since algorithms search for specific keywords that match the job description, Woods advised that applicants describe their skills and experience using as many of the same keywords whenever possible.
Another piece of advice Woods provided to job seekers is to read each bullet point in a job ad as though it were a question. Job candidates should consider how and when they accomplished each task in previous positions.
She also pointed out that the first three to five bullet points typically represent the top functions of the open position. Resume writers should then create bullet points of their own describing their relevant experience.
According to Woods, using bullet points in a resume is essential because that makes it easier to scan.
Eliminate Certain Experiences by Deciding What is Most Relevant
The most important task anyone has when creating a resume is to make their experience sound compelling enough to offer value to a new employer.
Candidates may have excellent skills in a variety of areas, but Woods cautioned to only include those that relate to the position.
They should also give serious consideration to any skills they used in a different industry that would carry over into a new industry and position.