As everyone returns to the office from vacation, this seems to be the perfect season to update that resume and make one more try for a new job. But before you do, think about suggestions from Evelyn Salvador, a career coach and author of the new edition of "Step-by-Step Resumes" (Jist $19.95).
She contends that, across the board, most people routinely pack it with too many jobs, in hopes of dazzling their target employer with their wealth of experience. Unfortunately, she contends, this strategy often does more harm than good.
"If you muddy up your resume with too much experience, show several jobs that were for short periods of time or include roles that are not in sync with your target job, this is a red flag for prospective employers," she explains. "It can lead them to look at you as a job hopper or one who isn't in touch with what you're seeking-and your resume might be screened out."
In her book, Salvador guides job seekers step by step through situation-specific instances where they must decide whether featuring certain information on their resume will help or hurt their odds of achieving an interview. Her advice includes the following tips:
Eliminate Indications of Job Hopping
* Eliminate short-term jobs (those held less than a year) from your resume, especially those that do not relate to the job you're targeting. This advice excludes internships if you are an entry-level job seeker.
For example, say you worked at one place from 2000 to 2002, at another in 2002, and at a third from 2003 to 2010. If the short-term job in 2002 was left out, your resume would not show a gap because resumes are generally written to show years only. If no gap will show, you can eliminate that position from your resume.
Include Unrelated Jobs with Relevant Functions to Combat Gaps
* If deleting an unrelated job would cause a gap on your resume and you included it, are there any functions whatsoever that you performed in that position that can be related somehow to the position you are now targeting-even just a small percentage of your work? If so, leave the job on your resume and address mainly the functions and achievements you performed that relate to your target position.
Determine How Far to Dive into Your Job History
Generally, it's not necessary to go back more than 10 to 15 years. However, keep these guidelines in mind:
1. If in the past 10 years you have had enough experience to substantiate the position you are targeting and to show career progression, you need not go further back.
2. If you do not have current relevant experience but you do have related experience in prior years, include positions going back 15 years.
3. If you are attempting to look older than you are, going back 15 years will help. If you want to appear younger, going back fewer years can lend that appearance. Either way, once you get your foot in the door for an interview, you can sell yourself on your qualifications.