The job market is full of imperfect candidates. Many have gaps in their work history. Some haven't been living in the area where they are seeking employment. Others have little to no experience or are overqualified for the jobs they want.
Obstacles like these can make it difficult for a job seeker to secure interviews, let alone a job offer. Such issues also become problematic early on in the job search, when the individual is creating a resume and cover letter.
Michael Farr addressed these concerns and many more in his recently released book 'The Quick Resume & Cover Letter Book,' fifth edition. According to Farr, a fundamental resume-writing rule that all job seekers should keep in mind is to never highlight a negative. "Because everyone has less-than-perfect credentials for a given job, all resumes hide one thing or another to some degree. Although you can't be dishonest, you shouldn't present negative information. A resume should present your strengths, so include only content an employer can interpret as positive,"he explained.
Here are a few common job-hunt conundrums and Farr's advice for overcoming them.
Gaps in work history
"If you have a well-understood reason for major gaps, such as going to school or staying home to raise a child, you can simply state this on your resume," said Farr. "You could, in some situations, handle one of these gaps by putting the alternative activity on the resume, with dates, just as you would handle any other job."
He added, "Minor gaps, such as being out of work for several months, do not need an explanation. You can simply exclude any mention of months on your resume. Instead, refer to the years you were employed such as, '2008 to 2010.'"
Too little experience
Job seekers who are recent graduates or breaking into a new occupation or field should emphasize their adaptive skills to compensate for a lack of experience, according to Farr. "A skills resume allows you to present yourself in the best light. For example, emphasizing skills such as 'hardworking' and 'learn new things quickly' might impress an employer enough to consider you over more experienced workers."
"Employers are often concerned that someone who has recently moved to an area may soon leave," said Farr. "If you are new to the area, consider explaining this on your resume or, better yet, a cover letter. A simple statement such as, 'Relocated to Cincinnati to be closer to my family' or any other reasonable explanation is often enough to present yourself as stable.
Additional resume, cover letter and job search advice can be found in Farr's book 'The Quick Resume & Cover Letter Book.'
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About JIST Publishing
JIST, America's Career Publisher, is a division of EMC/Paradigm Publishing. As the leading publisher of job search, career and occupational information, JIST empowers today's workforce and students to achieve long-lasting rewards in their careers.