Utilize combination format to present career-long record with one company

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dear Sam: After working 27 years in a technical sales and marketing rep firm, my husband needs to make a change. He has an electrical engineering degree from Purdue and an abundance of U.S. and international marketing and sales experience. What are your recommendations on setting up a résumé where there is only one employer, but numerous facets of one's responsibilities covering outside sales and in-house management within said company over the years? - Nancy

Dear Nancy: Great question! To demonstrate diversity in his position and to overcome the potential disqualifier of him having only worked for one employer, I would suggest the use of a combination résumé format. In this format, he would open with a qualifications summary based on his current career objective. Don't try to make this too broad, as it won't end up speaking the language of any hiring manager. Instead, be sure your husband spends some time searching the job market and seeing what is out there that he is interested in and qualified for; then tailor the résumé in that direction.

Next-and the critical element of a combination résumé-would be the presentation of your husband's career highlights. In this section, I would suggest he organize highlights of his career within functional areas. For example, he might list subheadings such as Global Marketing, Business Development, and Technical Sales. Then he would place key achievements related to each subject underneath the appropriate subheading. The key in this section is to make these functional subheadings relate to what he now wants to do, so at a glance, the hiring manager can get the idea that he is qualified for the position in question.

Following his career highlights would be a fully developed professional experience section. This section should take the hiring manager through what your husband did in each position with the company, probably spanning the last 15 years or so (of course this is dependent on the level of position he is currently seeking). I'd start questioning the value of experiences that occurred in the 1980s; so when he gets back that far, only include the positions if they are absolutely relevant and valuable based on his current career objective. Presenting 27 years of experience is typically not recommended, as it would likely unnecessarily age his candidacy and possibly make one assume he will be too expensive. I am assuming he held different roles throughout his 27-year tenure, making selective inclusion and omission of positions possible.

When you follow this format, you will not only satisfy your husband's need to present a diverse career, but also the hiring manager's desire to know what responsibilities he held in each position and how his career translates to what the company is looking for. Best of luck!

Dear Sam: After 27 years with a major company that went into bankruptcy recently, I have to take an early retirement. I am only 53 years old and not ready to retire. A lot of the jobs I am applying for ask for at least an associate's degree. I was told years ago that a four-year apprenticeship program was equal to an associate's degree. I have also had a lot of training in the past 27+ years. What is your opinion on this? I do plan on pursuing a degree, but I will need a job in the meantime. Thank you - Dilemma

Dear Dilemma: I've never heard of a steadfast rule that an apprenticeship equals a degree, but you could present your apprenticeship program in an education section to help the hiring manager make that same judgment. A lot of how a hiring manager will see your education and past training will be determined by how you present it, so be sure you present it as you would a degree, making note of the program name, sponsoring organization, and possibly even some key focuses of the program. Also use the education section to present your other training that is related to your current career objective(s). Be sure to focus on only those programs that are relevant and still current in today's business environment. Presenting only recent and/or relevant content in this section will yield stronger results when a hiring manager is comparing your training to that of a degree program.

Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé writing firm. Reach Samantha at dearsam@ladybug-design.com, www.ladybug-design.com, or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).

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