Saturday, June 7, 2008

Short writing jobs on your resume?

Asked for advice regarding a checkered resume, I drew on my own employment history and time spent in the 1990s doing a lot of resume writing and consulting.

Oh yeah -- and writers? This can be a very cool sideline. The advantage of being able to express yourself (or some other candidate) in addition to being able to design a nice LOOKING resume is a good one to have.

Anyway -- if your problem as a writer is a bunch of shorter-term jobs (this industry being what it is) here are some things to consider.

First, consider framing up your resume in terms of contract work: state in your cover letter you'd welcome either contract or permanent work, as you do an excellent job of making a difference for a company on a short term difference. (Cite examples).

I think the chronological format is okay. However, make your summary at the top (a paragraph about your strengths, I favor this approach) lists what you can do; focus on bullet points or swift summary of what you accomplished at each post.

Then at the bottom, where references are usually available on request, I might put a reference from each of several of the companies, to reinforce right there and quell fears: you didn't burn bridges, people would recommend you. (

For what it's worth, those are some ideas that might help. Also, be prepared to deal with questions about the short tenures. The best book on this that I've ever seen (and I've read a pile) is Martin Yate's Knock Em Dead - The Art of Getting the Job (he has a bunch, so be sure to get the general job finding one) as it has the 100 toughest questions prospective employers ask and how to ace them.

Also, if you can consolidate jobs, do so. For example, I have 2 media companies on my resume that I have worked for three times (!!!!) and one that have worked for twice. I'm not sure who that makes the glutton for punishment, them or me!

Instead of listing that as 8 jobs, I list it by company, with most recent responsibility first, and state the years I've worked there.

Also when you cull through old jobs, get rid of ones that took less than a year, if you can. So: Nov. 2006-present : McDonalds June 2006-Oct. 2006 : Burger King Feb. 2003 - December 2005 : Jack in the Box might end up looking like: 2006 - present: McDonalds 2003 - 2005: Jack in the Box

I know there are employers who feel disgruntled if you don't report EVERY job you've had, but if you had to support yourself with a second job waiting tables at Rudy's Lounge, you might not list it. It's your resume. Some employers ask for month and year on application form, which you fill out as needed of course.

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