Many job seekers fail to score interviews, even though their skills and experience qualify them for the positions they want. This can occur when a job seeker's work history sounds archaic to the person screening his or her résumé, according to Susan Britton Whitcomb, one of the nation's most renowned career coaches and professional résumé writers.
Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to such a dilemma, which Whitcomb unveils in her recently released book "Résumé Magic, Fourth Edition."
"The present progressive and past progressive tenses, such as 'I am managing' or 'I was managing,' equip you with a tool for blurring the dates of your experience," Whitcomb says. "Because résumé speak calls for dropping pronouns, like 'I,' and helping verbs, like 'am' or 'was,' before the verb, you start the sentence with the main action verb, which makes it possible to give older experience a feeling of real time," Whitcomb says.
People sometimes question this strategy based on the notion that experience should always be written in past tense. Whitcomb debunks this assumption and says job seekers have more leeway than they may expect.
"There are very few hard-and-fast rules in résumé development other than to include your contact information, provide some measure of your candidacy and to be honest. That's why it's 'legal' to use progressive tenses if you need to make outdated experience sound fresh and contemporary. The only caveat is that you must be consistent in your usages throughout the résumé."
Below is an example of how she was able to make a client's outdated experience sound fresher and more contemporary on his résumé.
· Managed receiving, pricing, markdowns, inventory and stock transfers.
· Used consultative and suggestive sales techniques to maximize add-on sales.
· Created promotional vehicles to generate sales increase of 20% annually.
· Maintained lowest inventory costs among company's four stores.
· Earned Top Salesman honors among sales team of 30+.
· Directing display, merchandising, promotions, advertising and in-store sales strategies.
· Using consultative and suggestive sales techniques to maximize add-on sales.
· Creating promotional vehicles to generate sales increase of 20% annually.
· Maintaining lowest inventory costs among company's four stores.
· Earning Top Salesman honors among sales team of 30+.
Job seekers needing to reference professional experience that is several decades old, however, will have to work beyond this quick fix.
Generally, most career coaches advise individuals to list only the last 10 to 15 years of work history on their résumés. Career changers and people wanting to return to an occupation or industry they once worked in may need to mention older experience to prove they possess knowledge and skills that would be desirable to the employer.
To troubleshoot this dilemma, Whitcomb suggests using a brief summary description, such as:
"Enumerate dates only when the dates don't go back too far, with too far being defined as approximately 25 years of total experience. Dates that take you back more than three decades might as well be emergency flares -- they'll attract as much attention," Whitcomb says.
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.
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