I had an enlightening experience the other day. For two years, since I parted company with my last full-time employer, I have been gainfully employed as a consultant. I’ve picked up a variety of jobs from writing press releases for a green power semiconductor company to doing search engine optimization for a speech pathologist. Since March, I have been the interim CEO for a marketing start-up. This has all been excellent experience for the current market: “green” technology, semiconductors, SEO, health care marketing and leadership. I have been very pleased with the bullets I have added to my resume over the past 24 months.
All that changed, just a little, with a job lead forwarded to me by a friend. The job req was for the same job I did a few years ago. My resume matched the job description completely. The cover letter was easy to write. I am a former employee of the company, so I was able to provide HR with names of current employees who could attest to my skill. These were not just any “current employees” but people who were having stellar careers at the company. I finished the cover letter by making a strong case that I’d grown into an even better match since leaving the company.
Since I had the name and email address of the recruiter, I decided to contact him directly. First, I applied on the corporate website (always a requirement). Then I sent my resume/cover to the recruiter with the job title and req number. Within 12 hours, I heard back from the recruiter. “Thanks for reaching out….” You can guess the rest. My salient job experience was all in the past. I was not currently active in the job function for which they were looking. Therefore, my experience was not current and not significant enough to merit a phone screen.
What does this tell you? If you have your job history for the past 25 years on your resume, you are wasting valuable real estate. My job experience from two years ago was not current enough. Your resume is going to be more effective with more white space. Leave out all those details on your entry level job duties. I suggest that you restrict your resume to the past 10 years. That is going to free you to highlight your current experience, add keywords and concentrate on better writing.
So, how do you deal with the fact that you have been out of work for 6 months or a year or longer and your work experience is no longer “current”? Well, keep in mind that not every company is as extreme as the company to whom I applied. I hear stories every week of people who applied for job X, wrote their resume to match job X but were called in to interview for job Y. In some cases, job Y is not one they would have ever considered. In some cases, a 6 month gap, in the current environment, is not a show stopper. A 12 month gap is a little tougher. However, I still hear about people getting hired who point to the fact that they spent their time gaining new skills, new training, new certifications, doing interesting “chance of a lifetime” things or spending significant time on charities. You never can tell what will click.
For the rest of us, perhaps you need to consider joining or doing a start-up. That is the path I am following. I would have never applied for the job at my former employer if it had not been such a perfect match. I am gaining a new set of current skills. Skills such as social media marketing, search engine optimization and on-line reputation management as well as leadership and “entrepreneurial” skills. If I decide to return to corporate life, I will have a whole new resume to show that I am currently active in the job function for which they are looking.
Business Development Director