For many, including myself, changing employers after an extended tenure can instill fear and/or dread.  Throughout 2020, many agricultural professionals were forced to re-evaluate their career options – some due to a ‘forced’ job search.  Thus, writing skills were put to a challenge revising (or composing) a resume.

If you have had the same employer for years, you may find it challenging to document your experience. How can you do it in a manner that would get you noticed?  For some, you feel your resume would fit on a Post-It note (The Office, Season 9 Episode 16).

Here are 8 tips to consider when writing your resume(s):

Content:

  1. Keep It Honest – hopefully, this goes without saying but do not lie on your resume.  Record only the positions and/or knowledge, skills, abilities, or qualifications that you have.  Do not add false fillers to make your resume seem impressive. It might get you in the door but what if you must prove what you said….?!
  2. Get Their Attention – Pay close attention to the specific skills and experience listed in a job advertisement.  Structure your resume to address the knowledge, skills, experience, and abilities you have that they seek.  Hiring Managers look for keywords in their first skim of your resume. Including these vital elements in the text helps to encourage a more focused review.
  3. Keep It Relevant – resumes are never ‘one fits all’. Depending on the position you pursue, you need to list the experience that is relevant to it.  But adding ‘stuff’ to lengthen the resume does not necessarily impress the reader (and may date you). Unless previous short-term roles are noteworthy to your current career path, do not add them. Your one or two long-term roles are sufficient to show your experience.
  4. List All Roles with the Same Employer – make sure you list the multiple roles you have held within an organization.  It will show the hiring manager that you were a valued employee worth promoting.  NOTE: If your position title is known by a more common name elsewhere, ensure you clarify that.

Resume Type

  1. Skills-Based Resume? The chronological resume format is the ‘go-to’ format preferred by many Hiring Manager/Recruiters. It might be worth considering the Skills-Based Resume format.  Highlight your skills and accomplishments by focusing on those that are transferable to the position for which you are applying.  As mentioned in the first section (#2), you need different resumes for different roles.  Make sure you list your employers (and all roles as mentioned in #4 above)!

Marketing

  1. Cover Letter – using a cover letter is a forgotten marketing item!  When applying online, do not overlook the opportunity to document your adaptability and growth at your previous employer.  How did you adapt to leadership changes, company mergers/acquisitions/reorganization, or technology changes?

Feedback

  1. Ask for Feedback – significant others and close friends are great for honest feedback.  Once you have drafted a couple of versions of your resume, have them reviewed for clarity, consistency, and accuracy.  It is not hard to be so focused on something that you miss something small that would be very significant.
  2. Chat with a Recruiter – a recruitment professional knows what their clients seek.  If advised to make changes to your resume – it is to your advantage to do so. They will ensure you highlight all applicable skills.

I wish you all success!  In an interview, elaborate on why you have remained with one or two employers during your career.  As the biggest question will be – why are you leaving now.  Potential employers seek honesty in this response. However, try to avoid the usual cliché responses that might not present well in an interview.  Indeed wrote a great article entitled “How to Explain Your Reasons for Leaving a Job” – check it out!

Thank-you to Kristine Penning for the blog idea and some content.

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