By Peter Jenkins & Melissa Ripp
Office Coordinator and Marketing Coordinator, Drake & Company Staffing Specialists
If you Google the words “resume advice” or “resume help”, you’ll find there’s no shortage of advice on every possible nuance of resume format. However, what if you have questions related to what’s in your resume as opposed to what kind of format to use or how many pages it should be? Or, maybe you’re trying to make a career change and wondering how to best craft your resume. Well, today is your lucky day—Peter, our resume expert at Drake & Company, is here to give short and sweet advice to some of the most frequently asked resume questions:
How do I address gaps in my resume?
Either don’t do it at all, and if you do, keep it brief.
What if I’m looking to make a career change?
Emphasize the skills that you have and the job duties that you’ve had that will be relevant to your new position. Also you may want to consider using a functional resume (a resume that focuses on your skills and experience rather than on your chronological work history).
What if I have 30+ years of experience? How far back should I go?
This is a great question, and the answer varies depending on the person. Ten to twenty years back should do the trick, unless a position from the beginning of your career is very similar to what you’re looking for now.
How do I make myself look like a (fill in the blank) even though I’ve never been a (fill in the blank)?
The best thing you can do is highlight your skills and education, and your willingness to learn quickly. You’ll have more time to explain why you’ll succeed in your new career in your cover letter.
Should I include a list of references and/or letters of recommendation?
Not unless requested by the employer—don’t overload them with paper right out of the gate.
Should I include a cover letter?
Absolutely. It gives you a chance to explain your interest in the position and make a strong case for your qualifications—especially if you are looking to make a career change or don’t quite have the experience they might require.
How do I handle a highly confidential search?
We recommend addressing the confidential aspect in a cover letter—and of course, don’t list your work phone number or e-mail in your resume. If you’re registering with us at Drake, take comfort in the fact that we’ve dealt with plenty of confidential searches over the years, and we maintain a candidate’s confidentiality by using a blinded version of your resume with a pseudonym and your current company’s name omitted. We only disclose the identity of you—and your firm—once we know there is mutual interest between you and the client we’re hiring for.
Should I list my education first or last on the resume?
List it last if it was long ago and not relevant, and first if recent and relevant
What kind of skills should I mention in the skills section?
Office, accounting, computer, management/supervisory, customer service, multi-tasking, etc.
How do I best represent my job duties?
Mention your duties within the framework of accomplishments and promotions. If you received any sort of professional award, or if you have hard numbers as to how a project you worked on contributed to a company’s bottom line, include it.
What if my longevity isn’t the best? What if my experience isn’t relevant for what I’d like to do now?
A functional resume might be the best way to go if you think your longevity might be an issue. You can also combine or simply omit “lesser” positions that are not relevant—you don’t need to list every position.
Should I mention my GPA?
It depends on how recently you graduated. If you just graduated and it was really, really good, go ahead and do so. It’s also fine to mention scholarships and honors. If you graduated a while ago, it’s best to use the majority of your resume real estate listing work experience.
If all of these tips are a bit overwhelming (and having worked with many, many applicants for jobs over the years, we know that even though it’s about you and your experience, a resume can be challenging to put together), we can further assist by creating a professional and effective resume for you through Drake and Company’s own resume service. Peter’s years of experience have translated into many happy customers (and having happy customers has also resulted in many job offers!), so if you’d like to find out more, click here for more information or contact him directly.
Melissa Ripp is the Marketing Coordinator at Drake & Company, a staffing firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Drake & Company specializes in temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire administrative, clerical, and legal placements. For 36 years, Drake has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match candidate personalities with a company’s culture. You can find Melissa on Google+, and you can find Drake & Company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.