I’ve been impressed for years by my college friend, for not only raising her eight children, but homeschooling each one. At one point her daily challenges ranged from prepping her daughter for the SAT/ACT exams, to her teaching her youngest, who was not even in preschool. All this, while simultaneously, trying to keep on top of the multitude of daily tasks that every family requires. I don’t know how she did it and kept her sanity!
Now, years later, she found a job that piqued her interest and needed help on preparing her resume. After being out of the “employment world” for nearly 20 years, many things had changed. These were a few tips I shared with her:
Find a resume that suits you. This may seem easy, but there are hundreds of formats available online. Having been a recruiter for a number of years, I came across several that I particularly liked (font, layout, use of space) and encouraged her to use the best aspects of each, to personalize her resume.
Not all formats are the same. Typically, I would suggest a chronological resume (lists the jobs you had in order), but I wouldn’t go back more than 10 years, unless there has been continuity with the same employer. In that case, go back 10 years and list the previous position held. Also, the old rule of “just one page” is so very 1980’s… Just think about how work has changed since then? People didn’t have cell phones, resumes were saved on floppy discs, no one had even heard of an iPhone, and most people stayed in the same job for 25+ years or until retirement! Today, people move from position to position and organization to organization… Therefore, trying to just keep the “one page” document rule just doesn’t make any sense.
Based on my friend’s experiences, a functional resume is a good choice for a woman who has been raising children for a number of years. She can highlight her fantastic organization, prioritization and communication skills more accurately than just listing she was a home educator for “x” years. Also her pre-family “employment” experiences could be used to demonstrate her truly robust background.
Changes over the last 20 years. In my experience as a recruiter in today’s technological world, I highly recommend that candidates only put their name, city, state and contact information on the top of their resume–leaving out specific street address. I know it is a bit protective, but once you hit “send” you never know where that information will be resent or if the “entity” that you are e-mailing is truly a bona-fide employer.
Additionally, I have never heard of any candidate being rejected if they don’t have the words “References available per request”. It is understood that if a candidate is qualified, they will have references available.
Master resume. Once, I had to fill out a form for the government, which required me to list EVERY job I had ever held. This is where I came up with the master resume idea. If I had, as I went through my job experiences, keep this information in a master file; along with my salary when I started and ended, it would have saved me so much time. This tip is particularly helpful when creating a functional resume. You can combine decades of work in the same general field together to highlight your capabilities in a more appropriate way.
I hope that sharing these tips will help others who are re-entering the “employment world”.
Kathleen Kalies is a Certified Professional in Human Resources and is Business Operations Coordinator for Results Performance Consulting, Inc. (RPCHR.com) RPC is a consulting firm in Boca Raton, FL that helps individuals and organizations improve performance through HR management consulting and leadership and professional training and development programs.