When you’re writing your resume, you may find yourself facing a number of tricky situations that you’re unsure how best to handle. Maybe some of these sound familiar to you?
There are a number of gaps in my employment history.
I’ve had a large number of jobs in a relatively short amount of time.
I’m looking to change my career.
Am I too old for this job?
Am I overqualified for this job?
I don’t have the right qualifications for this job.
My entire career has been spent working for one organization.
I was fired from my last job.
If you’re currently struggling with any of these resume problems, don’t worry! These are all quite common and are also pretty easy to overcome if you follow these helpful tips:
1. There Are a Number of Gaps in My Employment History
Recruiters may well be suspicious of any noticeable gaps in your employment history and can even automatically reject your application because of them. If the gap is just a temporary one, this could be made less obvious by just listing years, not months, for each job role. If, however, the gaps are longer and not so easily concealed, you need to consider the reasons for the gap and if they can be handled in a constructive way.
If a gap in your employment history is due to further training or education, this will invariably be considered a positive thing by recruiters, so you should cover this period in the employment and education sections of your resume.
Raising a child or caring for a family member is a reason that’s actually pretty personal, so you don’t need to go into any great detail about this in your employment history. Just a few brief words will be fine.
Many people have gaps in their employment due to travelling, and recruiters may view this positively or negatively. If you did any temporary or part-time work during your travels, this should be mentioned in your resume to show recruiters it wasn’t one long holiday. Just keep any explanations of time spent travelling brief as it shouldn’t be the main focus of your resume.
Gaps resulting from simple lack of employment or ill health are, unfortunately, not generally well-received by recruiters, so you should avoid drawing attention to them if you can. Hopefully, recruiters won’t even notice in their initial glance at your resume and it won’t become an issue.
2. I’ve Had a Large Number of Jobs in a Relatively Short Amount of Time
There can be many reasons why someone takes on a large number of jobs in a short period of time. Even though it may cause concern for recruiters, your resume is not really the place to explain your reasons for doing this. In this case, it’s about turning a potential negative into a positive by emphasizing the skills and knowledge you acquired as a result of each job and using this to highlight the true extent of your experience.
You may find a functional resume is more appropriate here — one that includes a “key skills” section with just a brief summary of your employment rather than full details for each role. This can be an effective way of highlighting what’s relevant to the position you’re applying for and discreetly leaving out what isn’t.
3. I’m Looking to Change My Career
Changing your career path may be another good reason to use the functional resume described above. This takes the emphasis away from any irrelevant experience and focuses instead on the relevant, transferable skills you’ve gained along the way.
A clear objective statement is also useful in this situation so that recruiters can immediately see what kind of direction you’re looking to move in before they notice your existing experience is quite different.
4. Am I Too Old For This Job?
While your age should not be allowed to count against you, there may still be some recruiters who continue to discriminate. However, just because you’re a certain age, that doesn’t mean that it’s a negative thing. Indeed, you probably have a great deal more experience than someone younger than you, so it’s important to ensure your resume really gets this across.
There are also a few ways to avoid emphasizing your age in your resume — for example, not including the dates in the education section if your most recent qualification is many years ago. In fact, you may wish to remove this section altogether if your qualifications are both dated and irrelevant.
When it comes to your experience, the emphasis should be on your most recent employment. A good way to achieve this is to go into appropriate detail for this position while simply listing your previous employment in a separate section altogether.
The idea here isn’t to hide your age, just to make it a little harder to work out so recruiters can’t use it against you.
5. Am I Overqualified For This Job?
For various reasons, such as seeking better work-life balance or facing a high unemployment rate, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re actually overqualified for the kinds of roles you’re applying for. From the perspective of the recruiter, they may worry the job won’t be satisfying enough for you and you will want to move on quickly — and this is obviously not the type of person they want to employ.
The trick here is to make sure that you pitch your resume at the appropriate level, if necessary by downplaying your qualifications or experience. It’s important to emphasize your most relevant, transferable skills while ensuring that areas in which you’re blatantly overqualified are given much less emphasis.
For example, placing your employment history above your education may help to hide the fact that you have a Master’s degree and are applying for a job that only needs a Bachelor’s degree. It isn’t necessarily about leaving this information out altogether, but rather a case of changing the emphasis on it in your resume.
6. I Don’t Have the Right Qualifications For This Job
If you’ve found the ideal job for you, but you don’t have the right qualifications, you have to seriously consider whether it’s worth your while to apply at all. It’s a waste of your time, and the recruiter’s, to submit applications for jobs if you don’t meet the requirements, particularly in today’s competitive job market where there will more than likely be many people applying who have exactly what the job ad asks for.
However, if you match almost every requirement and feel you can actually offer something a little bit different, or you have a relevant qualification that isn’t mentioned in the job ad, it may still be worth having a go. Just make sure your resume highlights everything that’s relevant to the job and emphasizes your suitability as much as possible.
7. My Entire Career Has Been Spent Working For One Organization
While one recruiter may see this as evidence of loyalty or commitment, another may see it as an inability or reluctance to change. Really, it shouldn’t be a major problem as long as your resume gives strong emphasis to all of the different skills and experience you’ve acquired with this same employer.
If you reach the interview stage, you need to be prepared to answer the question of why you’ve remained with this one organization for such a long time, so it’s worth coming up with a positive reason, such as continual progression or benefiting from training and development — anything as long as it doesn’t suggest you were just stagnating.
8. I Was Fired From My Last Job
There’s no room on your resume to include your reasons for leaving each job role, so there’s no real reason why your resume should mention this in the first place. All available space is much better off used for emphasizing your selling points rather than anything negative.
However, it’s more than likely you will have to address this issue if you reach the interview process, and the best way to handle this is to be truthful, conveying your regret and emphasizing what you learned from the whole experience. Remember, a recruiter can and probably will try to find out for themselves, so it’s never a good idea to be dishonest.
These are some of the most common resume problems and tips on how to overcome them. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about lying on your resume! It’s about changing the emphasis, highlighting what’s most relevant and thinking carefully about what you include or leave out. (Like this thought? Tweet it!)
Follow these simple rules, and you should end up with a winning resume that attracts a recruiter’s attention for all the right reasons!