Need Resume Help? Ask Me Your Resume Writing Questions

Got resume problems? You're not alone. Feel free to ask your resume questions here!

If you've spent even a short time searching the web for answers to your resume writing questions -- or any other resume questions -- you may be reeling from the amount of information out there. Even though a lot of it is good, it IS overwhelming, especially when you desperately need resume help that fits your exact situation.

A Little Resume Help From Friends

Just ask your resume writing questions in the comments section of this post and I or someone on my resume-writing team will give it our best shot. Go ahead, ask me how to handle (on your resume) the time when you got fired or when you were unemployed or when you got laid off or how to format a tricky set of short-term jobs. Anything resume-related is fair game.

If you need more personal help than we can give you here in the comments section, there are more ways to get resume help:

  • Hire a professional resume writer on Susan Ireland's Resume Team to give you a resume critique or write your resume for you.
  • Sign up for my Ready-Made Resumes program. As long as you use one of the templates from the program and you agree to let me publish an anonymous version of your resume, I'll review your resume.

Meanwhile, feel free to ask your resume writing questions here. And most of all...good luck with your job hunt!

252 thoughts on “Need Resume Help? Ask Me Your Resume Writing Questions

    • Hi Ben,
      I’m curious to know how you want to use an electronic resume. In today’s job market, almost all resumes need to be electronic as we submit them on company websites, post them on job boards, and send them via email.

      In all three of these cases, the basic MS Word format works well.
      – It travels well across the Internet.
      – Can be opened by most users because Word is so common.
      – Can be processed by most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s).
      – The formatting (if not too fancy) stays intact all the way to its destination.

      When posting your resume on a website, you may find the formatting gets messed up if you upload a Word doc. It’s rare, but it does happen sometimes. In that case, convert your resume to Plain Text, make the best of the limited formatting offered in Plain Text, and copy and past that into the site’s resume field.

      Ben, I have a step-by-step guide for e-resumes:
      How to Upload and Post Your Resume Online.

      Did I answer your question? Feel free to tell us what you’re up to.

      • I wanted to know, for instance lets say I’m going for a collection Rep position, my last job I had was in a warehouse and I haven’t done collections since 2001-2002. Would I put all of the other jobs I’ve had since your supposed to start with the most recent and put collections last? That’s what I’m confused about. And on a resume am I supposed to put every job I’ve had even if my past jobs have nothing to do with what I’m going for?

        • Hi Lisa,
          Great question. I have a philosophy I rely on for resume answers, so I’m going to start with that:

          Your resume is about your future, it’s not about your past.

          So let’s see how this helps answer both of your questions.
          1. Should you list your most recent jobs even though they are not related to your job objective?
          Yes, you should list them because you want the employer to know that you have been working and that you have good character — that’s one way those jobs support your future.

          To make those jobs more relevant to your collections rep objective (your future), use a combination resume format which has one or two skill headings inserted under your recent job titles. Make those skill headings ones that are used in your collections rep job and write achievement statements that show you used or developed those skills on that job. See how that will make those jobs support your future?

          2. Do you have to put all your jobs on your resume?
          If the jobs prior to your last collections rep job (2001-2002) are not relevant to your future (your objective), then you don’t have to put them on your resume. If you go back to 2001, you’ll be showing plenty of experience for the job you seek. Once again, see how that’s about your future?

          Hope this helps, Lisa. Good luck with your job search!

  1. Hi Susan!

    I’m so glad I found your site. Please help me.

    I spent some time looking at your resume samples, which are very helpful. But I don’t even know where to start with my own resume. I’ve been in my current job over 3 years. I’m an assistant store manager in a well-known retail chain. Before that, I worked in retail sales for a competitor. But I’m tired of retail and want to move on to something new. At this point, almost anything would be a welcome change! How can I get employers from other types of companies to even look at me? I feel so trapped.

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    Laura N.

    • Hello Laura,
      Feeling trapped isn’t good. Let’s see if we can help you.

      I know you said “almost anything would be a welcome change” but maybe you can narrow that objective down a little bit. I assume you want to stay in middle management, just not in retail.

      Here’s one way to sift through your options. See the “Find Local Jobs” tool in the margin of this page? In the “what” box, enter “management.” In the “where” box, enter your city and state or your zip code. Click “Find Jobs” and see what comes up. Anything interesting?

      Try it again, entering “assistant manager” this time in the “what” box. Widen your search by entering only your state in the “where” box. Anything good come up?

      Next time enter one of your key skills in the “what” box. For example, “communication,” “supervision,” “project management,” or something else you like doing.

      Make it a game, and see if anything at all gets you excited, or even interested.

      By making this a game, I don’t mean to make light of your search for something better. But this is an easy and sort of fun way to see what’s out there that you might like.

      Laura, once you figure out what field you want to move into, you’ll probably want to create a combination resume. That format can help you put the spotlight on your transferable skills, and away from the retail field.

      Does this help?

      • Thank you, Susan! Really appreciate you taking the time to offer suggestions. You hit on something important. I have a vague idea but not sure of what’s out there that I can do. Going to spend some time playing with the jobs box on the right. How did you know I like games? 🙂 Looked at combination resume you suggest. I think it makes sense but will look again after I think more about what I want to do. It feels good to have a direction. Thanks!

        • You’re welcome, Laura. Let me know if you have more questions once you get to writing your resume.

          And have fun playing with the jobs search box. Sometimes it’s fun to just put in items like “milking cows” or something out in left field (not that you would never milk a cow) just to see what comes up.

          Best to you in your search for a better job!

  2. Hello Susan,
    Speaking of specific formats, is there a shift in how teachers and other professional educators market themselves? I’ve seen resume examples and instead of an objective, the candidate will provide commentary about their philosophy and style, then note their experience with detailed, but succinct bullet statements. For the beginning teacher out there, what are your observations and recommendations?

    With thanks,

    • Hi Chris,
      I always love to hear from someone is going into the teaching field. Thanks for your question!

      I haven’t seen a new trend of putting a teaching philosophy statement at the top of a teacher’s resume. But, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do it.

      As you know, resume writing is a form of marketing. If you have a personal philosophy that you think puts you ahead of your competition (and the competition IS fierce in your field!), then make sure your philosophy shines through on your resume.

      You could achieve this in a few ways:
      – A very brief statement at the top of your resume instead of a job objective (as you suggested). I would limit this statement to one paragraph, not more than five lines.
      – In one or more of the bullet-point statements in your Professional Summary.
      – Throughout your Experience section where you talk about the skills you’ve developed and used in your past jobs.

      Without over-doing it, you can show that you’re conscious of what it means to be a good teacher in all that you do professionally and even in your community service.

      Wishing you the best with your launch into the teaching field. I hope you’ll keep us posted on how your job search goes.

      If you decide to use a personal statement on your resume, feel free to share it with us. We’d love to see it!

    • Chris,
      I just saw a preschool teacher’s resume that had a short teaching philosophy at the top, right under the Heading. It was about 150 words in paragraph format. (Long enough to have substance but not too long for a short doc like a resume.)

      My husband is on the reviewing end of resumes for the teacher job opening. He said he found the statement useful.

      I wouldn’t say this is an overall trend. There was only one resume out of many that had such a statement on it.

      But I know teaching philosophy is important in the candidate selection process. I saw other resumes where the school administrator had underlined phrases on candidate resumes. Guess what those words were? Words that indicated the teacher’s teaching style and philosophy.

      Good luck with your teaching resume!

  3. The hints and tips provided for writing resume really helps a lot. I appreciated with the format of electronic resume. Resume is first impression on interviewer, if the format, font, content is not well written, there is chances of putting your resume into the trash.

    Thank you,

    • Hey, Aliya. Thank you! I agree.
      In most cases the resume is your only first impression. And the visual impact is clearly a big part of that.

      What, specifically, have you found to work?

  4. I have two questions.
    1) How do you gracefully discuss being discharged on your resume?
    2) I am an older person with 40 yrs of experience with various companies but 1/2 of that time was spent with two employers – one which was my last one. Should I list all companies and time spent or should I focus on say the last 15-20?

    • Wayne,
      I have good news! You don’t have to (in fact, you shouldn’t) say anything at all on your resume about being discharged from a job. So check that worry off your list. You may need to discuss if in an interview, but don’t bring it up on your resume.

      Your second question is a little more involved. I’m hoping you’ll go back and forth with me as I ask you a few questions so that together we can come up with the perfect answer. You see, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your career objective.

      So here’s my first question: What type of job do you want next?

      Get back to us with that answer and we’ll take it one step toward a solution.

  5. Hello Susan,

    I am looking to get back into the job market after years of sporadic employment. I have kept very poor records. How important is that, or can I fudge it?

    • Thanks, Aaron. Hope you find what you’re looking for. If not, please ask and I’ll be glad to help if I can.

  6. Hello Susan,
    Your help has been invaluable in my job search. Thank you. I have a question: If I have submitted my resume and cover letter on line, should I also bring a hard copy to an interview?

    • Hi Gillian,
      I’m glad the site is useful to you. Thanks for asking your question. It’s a good one.

      Yes, you should bring a hardcopy resume to your job interview. In fact, I suggest you bring two copies: one for your interviewer and one for you.

      Chances are good that he will already have one printed out for the interview. But just in case he doesn’t, you can hand him one.

      And if he asks you about something on your resume, you can easily see what he’s talking about by looking at your own copy.

      Such a simple thing as bringing resumes to your interview will make you look well prepared and organized. Which you are. Right?

      Sounds like you have an interview coming up. Good luck with it!

  7. Susan, per your suggestion, I added bullets to my letter highlighting strengths from my career. I have half a mind to add “a sense of humor” for the last bullet. Speaking of bullet, is this career suicide or will it be appreciated? I suppose it depends on the reader.

    • Haha Gillian,
      Not career suicide at all! In fact, the only thing your bullet point would kill is your chances of getting a really boring job. If they don’t want someone who smiles, then maybe it’s not a good fit.

      So… you could say, “sense of humor” in your last bullet point. OR, you could use your sense of humor with a twist of a phrase. You seem to have a way with words. See what comes to mind that’s humorous (or appropriately cute).

      I once worked with a client who wrote this for her last bullet point:
      – Able to perform dancing bear acts while juggling multiple tasks.

      Definitely don’t go overboard with a full SNL script. But short and fun enough to make them realize you see the brighter side of things.

      If nothing else, they’ll get a sense that a job interview with you will be upbeat. Hey, who wouldn’t like that?

      And if you want to try something out on us, we’d love to see it!

  8. Dear Susan,

    Thank you for your informative web site.

    I am an older job seeker age 49 and I have been engaged since 1993 in four very different business fields i.e. Product finishing (powder coating plant), green house hydroponic farming, construction & building maintenance, real estate agent and currently solar water heating installations & repairs. Except for my position as associate in real estate I started up and managed the three other enterprises as sole proprietor except for the powder coating plant where I was in business with a partner.

    I want to find a position with a company as a manager of renewable energy & maintenance for example in the field of mining. I excel at developing new ideas and projects. However I am worried that employers may see my self employment and diverse history in a negative light and I am not sure of what position to aim for.

    What is the best way to present my skills & achievements from this kind of background?

    I will appreciate any advice that you can give me. If you need any more details about my background please let me know.

    Thank you.

    Sten de Meillon

    • Hello Sten,

      I was intrigued by your story, and found that, as it is for most job seekers, the key to answer your question is right in front of you! You are interested in pursuing a position in the renewable energy field, and your most recent experience is with your solar water heating company – perfect! The renewable energy industry is thriving right now, and by its very nature requires a motivated, entrepreneurial spirit, which you clearly possess. I would focus your resume on the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your current job, and list fewer accomplishments at the other businesses. In those previous positions, include the achievements that are related to doing installation and repairs, as well as other tasks and projects that would be relevant to your future employer.

      Also, it would be extremely helpful to include a Summary or Profile section at the top of your resume, and highlight your experience in renewable energy, your leadership and initiative, and your ability to “develop new ideas and projects,” as you stated.

      Good luck!

      Note from Susan: Beth Brown is a senior resume writer on my team and the author of the soon-to-be-released book, The Damn Good Resume Guide, A Crash Course in Resume Writing, 5th Edition.

  9. Hi
    Susan I was just recently terminated from my recent job am I suppose to mention that on my resume. I just can’t begin to write a resume it is very difficult for me to write about myself and my accomplishments can’t even come up with proper words ,so need some help there.

    • Hi Jasmine,
      You have an awful lot going on at once. I’m sorry. Sounds like you feel overwhelmed and, understandably, discouraged.

      Here’s something I try to do when I feel really overwhelmed: I take a deep breath and then make a list of what needs to be done to move forward. Then I try to take just one step at a time. Of course I keep the end goal in sight, but I try not to take in the whole picture, just put one foot in from of the other in as steady a pace as I can.

      In your case, you need to write a resume for your next job. Here are a few steps to help you get started:
      – First decide what kind of work you want next. The same type you were doing in your recent job? Something new? Knowing what you want to do next will help you figure out the next step:
      – Decide what resume format to use.
      – Use a resume template for that resume format. The reason I especially recommend a template for you is because it will remove a lot of the work of organizing your information, which I think is part of what’s making this so hard to approach. You can pull up a template and use it as a foundation for inputting your items without having to fool around with formatting.
      – First fill out the info for your Heading. That’s easy to do and you’ll get an immediate sense of accomplishment.
      – Then enter your work history job titles, dates, and employers. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to say anything about why you left your last job. Not on your resume, at least. You may have to on your job application, but that’s later on so don’t worry about it now.
      – Go through the template section by section filling in the structure.
      – When you’re done, ask someone whose judgment you trust to look it over and proofread it.

      At any point along the way, feel free to ask me a question here. I’d be happy to give you my two cents.

      Most important, know that you’re not alone. Many people get terminated from their jobs. It doesn’t mean you won’t get a good job this time around. And you certainly can move on to a have a wonderful career.

      We’re rooting for you, so go for it… at your own pace.

      • Thanks
        Susan for your prompt reply I finished my resume yesterday .Your sample resumes helped me a lot in building up mine .

        • Jasmine, that’s such good news. You got over a really big hurdle. I hope you’ll let us know how your job search goes.

          Best of luck!

  10. Hello Susan. I am new to your site. I have a question for you regarding resume prep for someone who is making a transition from years of experience as an hourly employee to salaried management openings. I am an employed, middle aged adult with 20 years industrial experience (12 years at my current job)-including military service-and a recent college graduate with a BS in Technology Management (Applied Engineering & Technology, not Information Technology). This degree has a wide range of potential employment opportunities, but I have no formal management experience. How do I make the most of my experience, leadership (ten consecutive years as an elected Union Official), and recent accomplishments to write a successful resume? What format do you recommend? Thanks!

    • Hello Steve,
      It sounds as if a combination resume format would be a good way to showcase your management experience. Under your non-management job titles (in both your civilian and military roles) you could have skill headings such as Management or Project Management or Leadership or something like that. Under those skill headings, write about specific accomplishments in which you used that skill.

      A word of caution about highlighting your union leadership. Before doing that on your resume, research the company you are applying to. See if they are a union company. If so, no problem listing your union management. If it’s not a union company, consider not bringing up your union leadership as it might make them nervous that you’re pro-union (even though you’re seeking a management job).

      I’m not a union expert, so I’d be grateful to hear others’ opinions on this. And, of course, I’m curious to know how you feel about it, Steve.

      Please stay in touch and let us know how it all goes.

  11. Hi, my name is Marucs, a retired Army vet. I have been in the job market for about 2 1/2 years now. I worked for the Post Office for 2 yrs as a contract carrier, however the contract ran out due to cut backs. I would really like to get into office administration however my background in the military was more towards electronics. I am more than qualified to do office work but I need to find a way to state that in my resume. So my question is how do I state my qualifications based off of experience and no specialized training?

    • Hello Marcus,
      If you believe you’re qualified to do administrative work, then you most definitely can create a resume that supports that career move.

      Start by making a list of all the relevant skills you have. That might include your computer skills, as well as abilities such as project management, organization, and team work.

      Then write down specific activities where you used those skills and abilities. Whenever possible, state those activities as accomplishments, using numbers to quantify your results.

      You can draw from your military and Post Office experience, as well as your personal activities. Lots of times, we develop some of our best skills from unpaid work, such as volunteering for an organization, doing personal projects, and even family management.

      I think you’ll be surprised at how much you have to say on your resume that relates to your new job in administration. You might even consider using a combination resume format to highlight these relevant skills.

      And you could have a Community Service section for some of those unpaid experiences.

      Good luck with your career change from the Post Office into administration. Let us know how it goes!

  12. Hello Susan, I am 53 years old and I have been looking for full time employment for 4 years. I was laid off from a large utility back in 1994 and since my children were small, I decided to stay at home to rear them. I was not idle though, and started my own company, obtained my bachelor’s degree, and was the administrator for my husband’s plumbing business. Then the economy tanked and have not had any luck in the job market. I was wondering if my outdated resume had anything to do with this, as most of the time I do not receive a call back. I am not looking for entry-level positions because I have experience, but I am willing to train to receive a desired position for the next 10-12 years. Is being self-employed a gap in work history that is detrimental? Thanks for your help.

    • Hello Cindy,
      You certainly have NOT been idle these last 4 years. Raising your children alone is a full time job.

      You definitely need to put something on your resume for these last few years. Nice that you have so much to choose from (and you don’t have to list them all, by the way).

      So, depending on the job you want, pick the job title that most relates to your job objective. For example, if you go into childcare, then your parenting might be most relevant. If you go for business administration then either your management role in your husband’s plumbing business or the management of your own business would be best to list as your most recent position.

      Here are few suggestions:
      – List only one job title. This will make you look most stable than if you list two or more jobs for that span of time.
      – Avoid referring to yourself as self-employed. In other words, don’t say “Owner” or “Founder/President.” Instead, call yourself “Manager.” Some employers don’t like to hire someone who’s been their own boss because they worry their new employee will be hard to supervise.

      I hope this is helpful and you come up with a resume that gets you started back in the world of employment. Please let us know how you do, okay?

  13. Susan,

    You have a lot of great advice and resources available, but I have a specific question that I can’t seem to find the answer to anywhere. I left my last FT position in HR 7 years ago when I started my family. I’ve included work I’ve done for my husband’s website as a site administrator/customer service as my last position. I now want to go back to work in my chosen field, but my question is, am I better leaving the work I’ve done for my husband’s site off my resume or leave it on there? If I do leave it on there, how can I keep it from turning off employers who see that I’ve done something completely out of my field for so long?

    • Nancy,
      I absolutely think you should include the work you did on your husband’s website. And if you did anything in the realm of social media (LinkedIn or Facebook) for his company, include that too.

      It might be good to use a combination resume format so you can insert skill headings that are relevant to Human Resources. For example, you might have skill headings like Database Design and Management (something that a webmaster would do for her website) or Communications (definitely a skill that’s common to both websites and HR) or Social Media Management (if that’s something you did). You only need two skill headings. I’m sure you’ll come with good ones.

      Because you worked for your husband, you have the luxury of creating a job title that’s both honest and at least somewhat relevant to your move back into HR. For example, you could call yourself Director of Online Communications or Online Project Manager. That would work really well if you knew your prospective employer is using the company website and/or social media for recruiting.

      In any case, I believe your involvement in current business practice will be useful on your resume for building a bridge between your full-time parenting back into the corporate workforce.

      Good luck with your transition!

  14. Do you have any resume and/or cover letter advice for persons with disabilities? I am severely hearing impaired and all I seem to get offered are phone jobs. I am in my 60’s and, when hired, my employers discover how much else I can do, but the phone defeats me.

    • Hello JR,
      My mother has been hearing impaired for the last 50 years so I’ve seen how challenging it can be to function with this “invisible” disability.

      Before you create your resume, think carefully about what jobs WOULD work for you. What jobs would use the skills you have and not require you to have good hearing. Then target your resume for those types of jobs.

      Even if you don’t have a specific job in mind when you write your resume, be sure to emphasize the skills you enjoy using — all those things you said the employer discovers you can do once he hires you.

      Here are some ways you can highlight those skills
      – Mention them in your Summary section;
      – List them in a special Skills section;
      – Incorporate them into your achievement statements under Experience;
      – You could even organize your achievement statements under skill headings (making it a combination resume).

      The idea is not to feel obligated to mention your disability in your resume or cover letter, but rather to stress your abilities.

      Now, if you decide to go for a job where your hearing disability is valued (perhaps working with the hearing impaired or designing workplace settings for the hearing impaired or something like that), then by all means mention your situation in your resume.

      Thanks for asking your question. Best of luck getting a promising job this time around!

  15. Me: 3 yrs on public assistance with mandatory work assignment jobs (phone work NO computer), last paid job 2005…would this work for resume?
    Working at various companies in different industries taught me how to handle many diverse customer problems. They vary from dealing with credit card lockouts at a cash register to making sure overnight Saturday delivery orders are completed when given at 4:45 pm on a Friday.
    My various other skills include:
    •Greeting guests, employees and visitors in a professional and courteous manner
    •Typing memos, correspondence with an average of 45 wpm typing speed
    •Good problem solving skills and to recognize potential conflicts.
    •Proficiency in MS Office with an emphasis on Word, Excel, Outlook 2007, Access and PowerPoint
    •Excellent web research skills of government, companies, people, travel, social media, technology
    •Greeting guests, employees and visitors in a professional and courteous manner
    •Typing memos, correspondence with an average of 45 wpm typing speed
    •Ability to perform tasks with minimum supervision, work long hours and under pressure
    •Good problem solving skills and to recognize potential conflicts and problems.
    •Proficiency in MS Office with an emphasis on Word, Excel, Outlook 2007, Access and PowerPoint
    •Excellent web research skills of government, companies, people, travel, social media, technology

    INTERNSHIP BUKHARIAN COMMUNITY CENTER Receptionist Forest Hills, N.Y. 2/2011-04/2012
    •Faxing documents, filing and photocopying
    •Greeting guests, employees and visitors in a professional and courteous manner
    •Answering, screening and directing inbound phone calls
    •Helped set up rooms for special events

    [email protected] Receptionist New York, N.Y. 01/2009-12/2009
    •Multitasking for social worker, medical records and admissions department needs
    •Problem solved customer service issues with mostly very elderly patients
    •Followed protocol with medical records
    •Answering, screening and directing inbound phone calls
    SELF-EMPLOYMENT 11/2007-present
    •Cold call potential clients
    •Teaching elderly residents Internet research skills
    •Create own spreadsheets for customer tracking and cash payments
    •Tutors children in writing, geography, arithmetic
    STAPLES Sales Associate Manhasset 11/2001-04/2005
    •Processed cash and credit card purchases in a very busy time slot
    •Answering, screening and directing inbound phone calls
    •Received frequent customer “thank you’s”

    • Hi Leslie,
      I’m going to answer your question in two parts. First your cover letter:

      There’s a lot I like about your cover letter. Probably my favorite sentence is this when you give an example of handling customer problems:
      “They vary from dealing with credit card lockouts at a cash register to making sure overnight Saturday delivery orders are completed when given at 4:45 pm on a Friday.”

      It’s always better to paint the picture than just using a blanket statement. This one does the job beautifully! When I read it, I think, “Eek! 4:45 on Friday. What a nightmare!” And you solved it!

      I have one overall suggestion for improvement of your letter (by the way, I realize this is only part of your letter, not the whole thing):
      You used several words that you could do without: various, different, many diverse, vary. If you could delete most of these and leave just one (maybe two), we’ll get it that you can handle various things. With too many of these terms, it waters down your experience by making it look sort of scattered. Does that make sense?

      Okay, that’s it for the cover letter. I’ll address your resume in my next comment.

    • Hi again, Leslie,
      Although I can’t give a full critique of your resume in this tiny space, here are a few pointers I think will help.

      First let me say that you’ve done a good job at keeping your resume statements relevant to your job objective of receptionist/data entry. And I’m sure it all looks handsome in your resume format.

      I like the way you’ve started your phrases with “verbs.” Now, if you could turn them into either present tense or past tense verbs in the first person, that would be best. In other words, don’t use “ing” verbs (gerunds or nouns).

      For example: instead of:
      – Greeting guests, employees and visitors in a professional and courteous manner.
      It would be better to say:
      – Greeted guests, employees and visitors in a professional and courteous manner.

      Insert quantities where you can to make the experience feel more real to the reader. For example:

      – Greeted up to 130 guests, employees and visitors per day in a professional and courteous manner.

      For your dates, you can leave out the months and just write the years. For example:
      STAPLES, Sales Associate, Manhasset 2001-2005

      It’s tricky using the term “self-employed” on your resume. Many employers don’t like to hire someone who’s worked for themselves. See if you can come up with a different term, such as Organizational Consultant/Tutor. Would that work?

      I hope this is helpful. And I wish you the best at finding your new job so you can become fully independent.

  16. I am 17 and filling a form for a college,lately i have not participated in any co-curricular activity. can i write about my accomplishments when i was 8-13 ?I have won prizes then for dance calligraphy swimming .

    • Akanksha,
      I’m not an expert in college applications so I asked some of my professional friends for help with your question. I’m entering each response as a new comment below.

      Hope this helps, Akanksha!

    • Maureen Nelson wrote:
      “The person could say they decided to minimize extra-curriculars in order to concentrate on academics but they look forward to such activities in college. Were they not involved in anything? Church? Volunteering? They could volunteer on Saturday and write about it on Sunday. I don’t know how much time they have, but they could volunteer at four different places over the course of a month. They should definitely talk about the earlier stuff they won prizes for and just not mention the dates.”

      Maureen Nelson is Assistant Administrator, One Stop Consortium, Contra Costa County EastBayWorks in California. (Thanks Maureen!)

    • Lori McCormick wrote:
      “I’m a college advisor and can answer this. Colleges don’t want to see any activity prior to high school unless it’s something the student is still doing. For example, a student who had been playing piano since he/she was 5.”

      Lori McComick is an independent college advisor. Her company is called University Admissions Counseling. Thank you, Lori!

    • Cynthia Goldberg wrote:
      “I’ll second Lori’s remarks. I work in admissions at a large public university. We are looking for who you are as a high school student, not who you were 8 yrs ago at age 8. If you only concentrated on your academics, then state that in your personal statement.”

      Cynthia Goldberg is Admissions Adviser & Evaluator, Undergraduate Admissions, University of California, Davis. Thank you, Cynthia!

  17. I’ve been a fairly senior manager (but not executive) in the federal government, but am trying to move to the private sector and the health care field, working in organizational development. Over the years, I’ve accomplished quite a bit, but it’s hard to document results with hard numbers, especially because I work in an area where we can’t talk in detail about what we do. Everything sounds very ‘squishy.’ And, my background isn’t health care. Any suggestions on how to make what I’ve done get noticed and how to translate what I’ve done to a different field?

    • Hello Lucy,
      It must feel like quite a jump from federal government to the private sector. I know the culture inside the two workforces are different, but there ARE common denominators, and that’s what I think you need to focus on in your resume.

      Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help figure out what to write about (and how to write about them) on your resume:
      – What are the transferable skills that you’ll bring from your government job to your new job in health care? (for example, maybe you’ll still be analyzing data or doing group presentations)
      – What personality traits have served you well in the past and will continue to bring you success in your new environment? (things such as leadership, humor, organization)
      – What aspects of your old job will be similar to your new one? (maybe you’ll continue to work on teams or use databases or something else)
      – What terminology is common to both jobs and fields? (perhaps words like “items,” “customers,” “retention,” and a slew of others)
      – What measurements of success are used in both arenas? (maybe you’ll quantify things by percentages of growth, market share, or rate of increase/decrease)

      Lucy, I hope this is helpful. I’m sure you’re going to do well with your transition. Best of luck!

  18. Can continued work in a Non-Profit where funding has evaporated (for the time) be included in your work history for that organization?

    • Greg,
      Absolutely! As long as you’re still officially engaged with the non-profit you can include it in your work history.

      And it sounds like a smart move that you’re preparing your resume, just in case the funding doesn’t return.

  19. I am helping a friend’s dad 77 years old and a physician write a resume. He is worried about age discrimination and doesn’t want to put dates on his early work but has dates on his past 20 years. i.e.
    Jones Clinic 2002-20012
    Ever Clinic 1975-2002
    Dakota Clinic Ten years

    Is there a way he can list Relevant Professional Experience and keep some dates and early jobs off? How would he date the early years? Thanks so much.
    You do a great job giving folks empathy in your responses. It’s a great site.

    • Laurie,
      How sweet that you’re helping your friend’s dad! I love that.

      I’m wondering what position your friend is going for, or how he intends to use his resume. In other words, why is he worried about age discrimination?

      In my opinion, he should list his dates and be completely up front about them. If he uses a traditional CV format (academic/scientific resume) he will need to list his medical degree and date, which usually appears right up at the top. When he lists his work history, he should list all the dates as well.

      Maybe what needs to be addressed is his concern about his age. Is he going for a position he’s still qualified to hold? If he’s not, then maybe he needs to look for something else. For example, if surgery is no longer realistic, then perhaps a position on a medical committee.

      If he is qualified, then he should go for it. He should write an excellent cover letter and use his professional network to run against his younger competition. By standing on his actual record (dates and all) he will present himself with more dignity. Dignity is something he’s earned from all his years in the field and he deserves to be honored (and hired) for that.

  20. Hi Susan,
    I am the secretary for the church I attend. So many people have done this job, and many of them under qualified, things were a mess when I came in (the previous secretary was mostly there to answer phones and pay bills and spent most of her time playing Solitaire). I love autonomy and really wanted to make the most of this opportunity, so I went at it and turned a simple job into an efficient, organized, and busy job. We actually hired an assistant because I had added so many items to my duties list.

    My question is this: How do I categorize all the things I have done at this job (implemented fund accounting through QB, wrote a secretary’s manual, continuously decreased expenditures enough to hire on another person, new filing system, etc.). “I made the office more efficient” just doesn’t sound good!

    • Hi Holly,
      I’m smiling because as I read your question I see that you have almost answered your question. You said: “implemented fund accounting through QB, wrote a secretary’s manual, continuously decreased expenditures enough to hire on another person, new filing system, etc.” And that etc. tells me you have more to say.

      Start by making each of these an independent statement on your resume (you’ve already got great action verbs for a few of them). Then add just a little where needed to make it a bit juicier.

      For example: Created a new filing system that made records more accessible to the organization’s 4 managers and 7 volunteers.

      For some positions, achievements just don’t have big numbers next to them. (Although in your case you could quantify a few. For example, how many records were there in that new filing system of yours?)

      When there’s no way to measure with numbers, just use words to tell how your action made a positive difference. For example, why was the secretary’s manual such a good idea? Maybe it cut down training time or helped maintain consistency in how staff organized things.

      Anyone who gets you as their next admin assistant is going to be very lucky, Holly. And with a strong resume, you’ll have that new employer soon. Good luck!

  21. Hi Susan,
    I am a recent college graduate and I am trying to enter the IT field. I also have a large gap in employment do to finishing school. Without the proper experience at this point, I am wondering where to begin with a resume?

    • Karl, congratulations on getting your degree! It must feel good to have that under your belt.

      On your resume, place your education section near the top of the page. This will create a good introduction to the rest of your resume. It will tell the employer that you:

      – Have a recent degree, which (if that degree is in IT) means you have up-to-date knowledge in your field.
      – You’ve been going to school full time, which explains why you don’t have much paid work experience.

      And if you have any school projects or internships that support your objective, you can place them either under Education or under your first entry under Experience. That way they’ll get noticed and appreciated.

      Hey, good luck with your career launch!

  22. After 24 years working in a customer service/administrative position with a state agency, I was laid-off as part of a workforce reduction mandated by the current governor. I have a number of questions about how to represent my unemployed period.

    First, my unemployment began in October, 2011 and we are now in July, 2012. How do I represent those dates? During my unemployment I have been busy with a number of pursuits. I have taken positive actions regarding my health by losing 90 pounds, which has improved a number of health conditions and my self esteem which was shaken after the layoff occurred. I have also assisted my mother-in-law as she has dealt with two instances of cancer and a stroke. Additionally, my daughter is currently one semester away from receiving bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Business Management. I have been independently studying her curriculum using her text books and class notes. I have also been enhancing my skills using Microsoft Office programs.

    How do I reflect all this, so I don’t look like I’ve been on vacation? I have been applying for jobs, but had not addressed my period of unemployment other than to say it was due to the layoff. Please help me! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Love this site, by the way!

    • My goodness, Suzanne, you have certainly achieved a lot in the last nine months! Let’s take a look at what to put on your resume.

      I’m going to assume you’re looking for another customer service/administrative position. Will that be in government or the private sector?

      If it’s in the private sector, here are a few suggestions for your resume:
      – List only years, not months. That means dates for your current employment gap could be 2011-present or, it could be just Present because your last job will be 1987-2011.

      – Create a “job title” for ONE of the things you were/are doing during your gap. I suggest you not mention your weight loss or self-esteem (just enjoy those benefits personally). You could give yourself the title of “Caregiver.” Or you could say “Independent Business Studies.” Or maybe you have other things you’ve been doing such as volunteer work. Pick the title that best supports your job objective. For example, if you apply for a job at a hospital, Caregiver might be good. Or even “Caregiver and Healthcare Advocate.”

      So it might look something like this:

      Present, Private Caregiver/Healthcare Advocate
      – Write a statement that’s relevant to your job objective, such as the administrative work you do for maintaining your mother-in-law’s Medicare status.
      – Another statement if you have something to say. If not, there’s no need to have more than one. In fact, it’s even okay not to have any bullet point statements under this title.

      1987-2011, Your customer service/administrative title, Name of state agency, City, State
      – Achievement statement about this position.
      – Write several more statements to support your job objective.

      Hope this is helpful, Suzanne. And good luck with your re-entry into the workforce.

  23. I am a recent grad from from a trade school. I worked in my field for a month, but was let go because I made a few mistakes. I am getting my resume prepared to send out again. Do I include the information of the employment on the resume or leave it off, knowing that I most likely will have to address in an interview? Or do I include just the necessary information on the on the resume, not including the reason for termination? Thanks for your help

    • Hello Anthony,
      I’m sorry you had that unpleasant experience. If it’s any consolation, everyone makes mistakes on the job. Not everyone gets let go for making them. But I’m sure you learned a lot from the experience and it’s unlikely it will happen again.

      On your resume there’s no need to say why you left the job. In fact, if you had the job only a month or so, you don’t even have to list it on your resume. You can if you want, but you don’t HAVE to. You do need to put it on your job application, but there’s no law that says you have to put it on your resume.

      What’s most important at this point, I think, is that you figure out how you’re going to talk about it in a job interview if it comes up. You might want to work with a career counselor to practice how to say it best.

      Good luck with your job applications!

  24. I love your website but don’t know where to begin. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 16 years. However, during this time I have been an active parent and classroom school volunteer. I have also volunteered with many other charitable organizations, as a first responder for outdoor emergency care and coached my kids soccer and softball teams. I have been taking classes for the past several years in pursuit of a degree in nursing. I’m also a certified nursing assistant (but with no experience). Could you direct me on how to construct a winning resume and cover letter so I can get a nursing assistant job at a hospital?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Angie,
      Wow, you said you’re a stay-at-home mom but it seems you’ve been doing a lot other than staying at home. So many of those things you listed will be helpful in the success of your move into a nursing-related field.

      I suggest you make a list of those activities you mentioned (maybe you have even more) and prioritize them according to how relevant they are to the nursing assistant job you seek. First Responder will be near the top, I suspect, along with Nursing Student. And remember that education skills (your coaching and classroom volunteer work) are also highly valued in nursing.

      Take your top two or three and feature them as “job titles” for the last 16 years. You could use either a chronological or combination resume format.

      One more thing: be sure to put your Education section near the top of your resume so the hospital sees that you have the required certification plus addition coursework.

      Best of luck with your new career!

  25. Dear Susan,
    I was just wondering:
    If my current job is not in the field of work I am applying for (i.e. I have recently started work in entry-level retail management and am applying for administration), should I include it in my resume or not? I have admin experience, so it’s not so much a matter of not having enough to put on my resume, but I’m wondering whether it’s more important to show that I’m currently working (even if that position is somewhat irrelevant to the work I am applying for), or show relevant experience?
    Yours truly,

    • Hello Amy,
      Without knowing the all the details, my gut feeling is that you should list your current job on your resume. Employers tend to prefer hiring someone who’s currently employed over someone who is unemployed. So listing the job you have now, will make you look a little more appealing in the job market.

      Hope you find your new administration job soon!

  26. Dear Susan,
    I am in what I believe is a fairly common situation in today’s economy; I have been attending college for my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Administration and the current term would have been my last to complete my degree program were it not for the fact that I have completely run out of financial aid. I have not been employed since February of 2009 and that position was in an unrelated field. I am unable to afford the cost for my final two classes and need to obtain employment so that I can cover the expense. I have begun to work on my resume and have found that I am at a loss as what to write for my headline. The examples that I have found all suggest mentioning that you are a recent graduate, however in my case that is not quite the fact. How am I to approach this in the headline section of my resume?
    Thank you for your guidance.

    • Oh Michaelle, you’re so close to finishing. Let’s see if we can help you get a job so you can get that degree!

      I think that you should put your Education section near the top of your resume so an employer will see that you are still in school. (I’m assuming you’re looking for a job that you can hold down while going to school, right? Even if that’s not the case, I think you should put Education right up there.)

      After your degree, write something like one of these:
      In progress
      Near completion
      Anticipated 2012

      The same type of wording would also work in your headline. Good luck with your job search!

      • Thanks for the suggestion Susan. I do have one other question concerning the right way to list my education: I earned my asscociate in Science in Paralegal Studies in 2008, and my bachelors is in Criminal Justice Administration. Because the two degrees are not the same concentration, should I list both and include examples of related coursework for each as well?
        Thanks again,

        • Hi again, Michaelle,
          Yes, list both of your degrees. You don’t have to include coursework unless you think the employer won’t know that you have a particular relevant area of study under you belt.

          Good luck with it!

  27. Dear Susan,
    I am a convicted felon and am having a very difficult time finding employment. I have over 25 years of experience in the printing industry and my resume is quite impressive. I was incarcerated from 2006 to 2010 and had a very prestigious job while incarcerated, I think I covered that 4 year gap pretty well but now find myself facing yet another problem.

    Since 2010, I have been searching for employment without much luck. Due to my resume being very impressive, I have gotten many interviews that have gone very well…but still have not been given “that chance” to prove myself. My problem is the time gap from 2010 to the current date that I have been searching for employment.

    If possible, I could e mail you my resume which would show my dilemma. But my problem now is how to fill that gap. My resume is very impressive and I wouldn’t mind you using it on your site as a sample, as long as all personal information, company names etc… are changed.

    Please help me with any advice you can offer. I can not afford to hire a professional since I have been out of work for two and a half years now. I would very much appreciate any insight you could offer.
    Thank you so much for your time.

    • Hello David,
      Let’s try to come up with a solution.

      First, I want to say that if you’re getting job interviews, then your resume is doing its job and maybe where you need help is in your interviewing skills. If there’s a One-Stop Career Center near you, maybe you can get some in-person interview coaching.

      If, however, you are no longer getting interviews (as your employment gap increases over time), then I would have to agree that you need to do something about that gap on your resume. So let’s assume it’s the gap and brainstorm a little.

      In addition to job searching, what else have you been doing during that last 2-1/2 years? Anything related to publishing? Even online publishing? Any volunteer work or personal projects that have enhanced your skills in the publishing arena? If so, create a “job title” that reflects that unpaid work and list it as your occupation since 2010 (or whatever date is true).

      If you haven’t been doing anything related to publishing, then what have you been doing that shows that you’ve kept yourself busy in a productive way? Family management? Or maybe independent study or care giving of some kind? Take that activity and create a “job title” to use as a placeholder for the last 2-1/2 years on your resume.

      Another idea: you could start something relevant (a class, volunteer work, or personal project) today! Then list it for “present.” in your Experience section.

      Make sense? I hope so. Let us know what happens after you try one or more of these techniques.

  28. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for your reply and very much of what you said is true. One area that goes very well is the interview process for me but it seems in the end… my record holds me back. For 2 1/2 years besides actively seeking employment, I have been helping take care of my Grandmother who is now 95 years old. I feel at this point, my main obstruction besides all of the obvious, is that gap from me time of release to the current date, Is there an e mail that I can send you a copy of my resume so you will fully understand what i mean. Thank you again so much for even taking the time to talk to me. Your input on my resume would be invaluable!!

    • Hello again, David,
      You can certainly put down “Caregiver” as your occupation for the last few years. And if you’ve been doing any writing, editing, online publishing, or anything at all related to your publishing field, then you could include that, too. Maybe something like this:

      Website content development (concurrent with full-time care giving for grandparent), 2010-present

      About reviewing your resume: I’m sorry I’m not doing resume reviews in this forum. Just happy to give advice.

  29. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past 11 years and am now ready to update my resume. My question is how do I explain/elaborate on the last 11 years, effectively, on a resume? Or don’t I explain it?

  30. I have been an apprentice to a freelance carpenter for the past 5 years. How do I show this on work history?

    • Hi Rocky,
      Sounds like you’re ready to use those carpentering skills in a new position. Are you staying in the field or making a career change?

      Either way, you can list your apprenticeship like any other job in your Experience section. Maybe something like this:

      2007-present, Carpenter’s Apprentice, Name of freelance carpenter (or Master Carpenter), City, State

      Under that heading write bullet point statements that are relevant to your job objective. So if you’re staying in the carpentry field, talk about the types of projects you’ve worked on and what skills you developed.

      If you’re changing careers, think about what skills from your apprenticeship you’ll be using in your new career. Then write bullet point statements about how you used those skills as an apprentice. For example, maybe you developed some good project management skills (even though you weren’t a manager). Or maybe you used your bilingual skills on the job and they will be useful in your new line of work.

      Let us know how it goes!

  31. Hi Susan,

    I have been doing a lot of research regarding cover letters and resumes due to the fact that I’m looking for work at the moment. That being said i came across your website and found it pretty informative as well as intriguing =)

    if i may, i would like to ask your help. I have been working for the same company for 7 years…( aviation industry ) but recently the company got bought by its brother company due to financial problems. So the new company took over all the staff and so on. unfortunately me and the boss at the new company did not get along at all so he found a loop hole to get me fired. after i left the company they closed down my department leaving only him in charge of all the operations. that being said..i have been without work for just about a year now and i am having the hardest time to even get an employer to give me half a chance to just come in for an interview. so… I’m sincerely hoping you will be able to give me some guidance resume wise

    • Hello Jaun-Pierre,
      What a sad story to have lost your job this way. But you have a lot going for you, nonetheless. 7 years at one job is a very good record. So as long as, on your resume, you don’t state why you left, it should not be a problem. Also, don’t mention it in your cover letter. It may come up in your interview but you can handle that in person.

      On your resume, list your previous job and create achievement statements about your work experience at that company. Keep everything positive so you don’t plant any ideas that there was a conflict with your boss.

      Also, try to get a letter of recommendation from your former boss (the one you worked well with). And you might even take a phrase from that letter and put it in one of your resume Summary statements. That would make a good impression.

      Also, remember, this is a very bad economy. The difficulty you’re having getting interviews may not have anything to do with how you left your last job. It might just be that jobs are hard to get.

      Wishing you the best with your job search!

  32. Hi Susan,

    I am transitioning out of the military after 20 years. I have gotten a lot of conflicting advice on what resume format I should use.

    Do you have any suggestions on what format could work best for a military transition? How far back should I go on my resume?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Greg,
      Congratulations on your re-entry to the civilian world. And thank you for so many years of service!

      The most common format for exiting military folks is the combination resume format, especially if you want to work in the private sector. The skill headings in the combination format help the employer understand what transferable skills you bring to the table. You see, many civilian folks don’t understand military rank and lingo, so those skill headings really help.

      If you’re headed for a government position or work with a government contractor, the combination or chronological resume will work.

      Definitely don’t use a functional resume format. Okay?

      Best of luck in your transition. And, again, Thank you!

  33. I’m a freelance artist but my commissions are not received often enough to rely on them as my sole source of income nowadays. I’m establishing interviews for a secondary job with a professional company and I wonder if it is wise to inform my interviewer – in person or on my resume – that I have this small buisiness on the side. Will they see my successes in my side trade as good selling points or will they fear that I cannot devote my full effort to the job I’m interviewing for.

    • Dear L.P.
      If it’s any comfort to you, please know that you are not alone in your desire to move from self-employment to employment. I’ve been asked the same question by other small business owners and freelancers who want full-time jobs because they needed more income.

      There are a few options for how to handle it on your resume. Please read this post I wrote and see if one of the ideas/examples would work for you.
      How to List Self-Employment on a Resume

      Wishing you much success in your job search!

  34. I have read your articles on making a plain text for a word program, but I have a mac computer with pages. Do you have directions for that as well??

    • Hello Avis,
      I’m sorry, I don’t have instructions for converting to Plain Text on the Mac. I guess you’ll have to google that one.

      Are you sure you need to convert your resume to Plain Text? Most resume websites can handle a Word formatted resume without any problem and sending a Word resume as an email attachment is also fine.

  35. Hello
    I was hoping you can help me. I am looking for a position overseas as an english teacher however I have no prior experience and I do not have a university degree. I did take a online tefl course, I have a college diploma in human resources and I have expereince training one on one and to group including creating training guides which I believe can be an advantage. Can you please help me? Do you have a sample cover letter and resume for teaching english as a foreign language jobs?

    P.S. you website is great!!

    • Hello Joanna,
      I have a sample resume for an ESL teacher that I think might be helpful, at least in giving you ideas for how you might organize your experience and education.

      Take a look at this chronological resume for an English as Second Language Teacher for Dorothy Miller (not her real name). Dorothy first had a functional ESL resume, which I recently converted to the chronological format because chronological resumes are more widely accepted by employers.

      Here’s what I like about the chronological resume example: it offers a lot of personal relevant experience along with Dorothy’s teaching experience. This gives it an added dimension and personality that shows she really has a talent for working with people from other countries.

      Somehow, I think you and “Dorothy” have that in common. I hope you can capture that feeling in your resume as well because it’s sometimes that “something extra” that gets you noticed.

      Good luck with your ESL resume and new career!

  36. I was taught in high school that resumes should be one page. Is this true anymore, today? I have a lot of information that takes up two pages, but not much on the second page. May be a 1/4 of page to a 1/3. Thanks.

  37. Hi Jason,
    If your resume format is 1-1/4 or 1-1/3 pages, it’s fine. Here’s my rule of thumb: A resume should be no longer than two pages unless it’s for an executive (3 pages is the limit) or an academic/scientific CV (unlimited number of pages).

    So it sounds as if your resume is a good length. Just be sure your best stuff is on page one. And remember to put your name and “page two” at the top of page two so the reader knows you’ve got a two-pager.

    Good luck with it!

  38. Hi, Susan–

    I’m helping my father, who is 65, in the job seeking process. He is ready to return to a part time job that is not necessarily in his field, but that will interest him and provide him with a source of some supplemental income. He has an employment gap in his resume of about 3-4 years after he was laid off after working in Project Management (as an executive/ manager) for a company for 35+ years. Do you have any resume samples that will help me create a new resume profile for him? Over the past 3-4 years, he has been assisting with family care of a grandchild, a daughter who was very sick and a wife who needed assistance as well. Thank you

  39. Just as a follow up to the above question, my father’s current resume is a very business/ project/ account management focused resume with all his business experience and successes and he has a decree in accounting. He would want a part time position in a retail or customer service oriented field at this stage of his career change. I am hoping you can provide me with resume sample (s) that would help me shape his resume to include his experience and also his qualifications. Thank you

    • Hi Michelle,
      How wonderful that you’re helping your dad with his resume. And thanks for filling us in with more of the details.

      You may not find ONE example that’s exactly the same as your dad’s situation, but I think you can gather ideas several resume samples to come up with a unique resume for him. Here are some links to sample resumes that address the resume problems he’s facing:

      – 23 Resume Examples That Solve the “Unemployed Now” Problem
      – 16 Resume Examples for Career Change
      – 34 Resume Examples that Avoid Age Discrimination

      Here are sample resumes for his job objective:
      – 15 Sample Resumes for Jobs in Sales / Customer Service

      Here are resume samples for the combination resume format, which I think you should consider for your dad’s resume:
      – 23 Resume Examples in the Combination Resume Format

      Hopefully you’ll get some good ideas from these. Let me know if you have more questions.

      • Thank you for these samples. Another question: if my dad spend the last few years, while unemployed, caring for a sick family member and watching a grandchild, is that something that should be left off the resume (since he’s not applying for a healthcare or caregiver position?)

        • Hi Michelle,
          It would be better to put the care giving experience very briefly as your dad’s current “job title” than to have nothing for his span of unemployment. It shows that he’s kept busy and has good character.

          If he has something else that’s more relevant to his objective, there’s no need to list the care giving.

          Sounds like you’re making progress. 🙂

          • Hi, Susan– One more question–

            In the objective section at the top of the resume, is it advisable to highlight that my dad is looking for a part time job that is different than his experience and training field? Some of the resume samples I’ve seen write something like “experienced flight attendant seeks new career opportunity in sales field” or something like that. This will not be a whole new career for him; just a part-time job, but still, is it advisable to mention the difference in his resume experience and what he is currently looking for? Thanks, Michelle

          • Michelle,
            I would mention it only if it strengthens his application.

            For example, if he’s going for a job in his former industry but in a different role, then you might mention that he has experience in the industry. But if everything about the career change is different, then don’t highlight that difference in the job objective statement. Only highlight the info that makes him look in sync with his objective.

            Make sense?

  40. Hey Susan,

    What’s the best way to include an unfinished college degree in a resume? And is it even worth doing when it when you have a finished degree in a completely different field, but the past coursework seems relevant to the position being applied for?


  41. want help to better wor this- “Educated, supervised, and assisted all new hires with knowledge to operate under Bruce, and Lexi-scan protocal, to perform nuclear stress test, and stress echos”

    • Hello Mbhular,
      Because I don’t know your field, I’m going to point you to some sample resumes in technical fields. Browse through them to see if some of their statements give you ideas for your resume. If you don’t find it in that section, look in some of the other sample resume sections.

      I don’t know who Bruce is and your reader probably doesn’t either. So I wouldn’t mention his name unless you add his last name AND he’s know and respected in your field.

      Good luck with your resume writing!

  42. Hello Susan,
    Thank you for this website – it is very useful. Could I get your advice?
    I have been in the Managing Director position for 7.5 years, but moved from Lithuania to UK 10 month ago. In UK I worked just simple jobs – one as a sales assistant in electronics shop, and current one is a warehouse operative.
    I would love to get back on track and am looking for business development manager/service sales professional position and it seems to me, that my CV lacks results/achievements.
    How do I get the results or measure my achievements?

    Here is how that part of my CV looks now:

    Managing Director Feb 2004 – Oct 2011

    Translation & Interpretation Agency, No. 3 in Top 5 of Translation Agencies in XXXXXX region.

    Main Areas of Expertise:
    • Sales & Business Development
    Cold-called prospects, searched for new customers & business possibilities, developed & maintained business relations with clients, strategic partners, translators & interpreters (CRM).

    • Marketing
    Created & managed webpage & company’s corporate style, created & prepared marketing campaigns in mass media & Internet. Communicated with designers, representatives of printing houses, radio & TV, negotiated prices and terms.

    • Project and HR Management
    Fragmented translation projects to separate tasks & delegated them, controlled quality & the whole project progress. Managed several complex projects simultaneously and delivered timely and high quality results. Managed team of 5 people in the office and 90+ freelancers.

    • HR Administration
    Searched for translators & interpreters: screened CVs & selected candidates, interviewed shortlisted candidates & issued contracts for translators & interpreters, issued & paid the invoices.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hello Neziniux,
      Your question is one so many job seekers have, so I’m happy to answer it. Here are some questions to ask after each of your statements. Hopefully they’ll help you come up with ways to quantified your achievements.

      How many? How much?
      For example, in this statement:
      Cold-called prospects, searched for new customers & business possibilities, developed & maintained business relations with clients, strategic partners, translators & interpreters (CRM).

      Ask yourself: How many prospects? How many of those prospects resulted in new customers? And what was your retention rate?

      So what?
      For example, in this statement:
      Created & managed webpage & company’s corporate style, created & prepared marketing campaigns in mass media & Internet. Communicated with designers, representatives of printing houses, radio & TV, negotiated prices and terms.

      Ask yourself: So what if I did all that? How did it benefit my employer? How did it develop or use the skills I want to use in my next job?

      How did I positively hit the bottom line?
      For example, in this statement:
      Fragmented translation projects to separate tasks & delegated them, controlled quality & the whole project progress. Managed several complex projects simultaneously and delivered timely and high quality results.

      Ask yourself: What was the bottom line result for this project? How was it improved because of my action? The statement mentions high-quality results. What were those results?

      What makes you proud of this achievement?
      For example, in this statement:
      Searched for translators & interpreters: screened CVs & selected candidates, interviewed shortlisted candidates & issued contracts for translators & interpreters, issued & paid the invoices.

      Ask yourself: Of all those things I did, what am I most proud of? What would I want to repeat in another project because I did it so well and it led to such good results?

      I hope these ideas are helpful Thanks for asking the question!

  43. i want to no how to write application letter for my boss and request for another assistant in my office due to the kind of work am working there

    • inemesit,
      Although this isn’t the type of letter I am used to writing, I think the same good cover letter writing principles apply:
      – Start with a polite request for what you want.
      – Give a brief explanation for why you think it’s a good idea.
      – Close with a sincere thank you and suggestions for follow up (such as meeting to discuss it).

      Good luck with your request!

  44. Hi Susan,

    I have been unemployed since 19 months. Before that I worked as an HR only for 6 months. I could not learn anything new in the last 19 months, but currently I have enrolled for a new skill that would be relevant to my career. Can you suggest how I should mention the gap of those 19 months, which have been in fact valueless, in my resume?

    • Hello Neha,
      Be sure not to list months when you give the dates of employment on your resume. Just put down the years. That will help reduce the gap some.

      If I’ve calculated your 19 months right, it should look something like this:
      Present, Student, XYZ Class, ABC School
      2011-12, Something that shows good character
      2010, Your position in HR

      So now you need to fill that 2011-12 gap with something that shows the employer that you’re a good person. What can you come up with? Parent? Caregiver? Volunteer work? Even if you weren’t doing anything that’s relevant to your job objective, you need to put down something so the employer knows you weren’t getting into trouble.

      In How to Explain Unemployment on Your Resume there’s a list of “job titles” for gaps. See if one of them will work for you.

      Once you figure this out, you’re going to give a big sigh of relief. So I’m glad you asked! 🙂

      • Hi Susan,

        I took your advice and re-drafted my Resume exactly according to your suggestions. And guess what? I got a call for a job interview in a couple of weeks after that, aced through the interview, and now they have made me an offer! Thanks a lot for your help! Truly appreciate your assistance!



        • Congratulations, Neha! And thank you for getting back to us. I wish you all the best on your new job!

  45. I was just laid off from my job on Friday,I was doing powder coating,and now I am trying to write something professional on my resume where it says profile,and I don’t have the greatest vocabulary,and I keep trying to research the internet for some helpful tips,but keep coming up empty,can you help me with this?

    • Hello Art,
      One of the most useful (to the employer) first lines of a Profile (or Summary) section answers the question, “How much experience you have doing your job objective or in using the skills that are required for your job objective?” See if that helps you come up with your first bullet point Summary statement.

      After that, ask yourself some of the questions in this article: Your Summary of Qualifications.

      I hope this helps you turn out a great Summary section.

  46. Hello Susan, its Abhishek here. Your site is nice and your job too.
    I would like to have your help in following:

    1. I have as my current location a small city and that’s my address on resume as well. Now, how can I communicate, via resume, to employers that I am ready to be relocated? That can be done through Cover Letter. But, I want this to be in resume, because on places like, job portals, employers see just our resume.

    2. Secondly, when we apply through job portals and we click on apply, then only our resume got submitted and not cover letter. So what one can do about it?

    3. These days, a lot of placement agencies gave advertisements on job portals. So, while applying through them, one should write cover letter, keeping them in mind or the employer.

    Thank You & Regards,
    Abhishek K. Pandey

    • Hello Abhishek,
      I see you’re a very organized person by the way you asked your questions. Let me respond in kind:

      1. You could write a bullet point in your Summary section (perhaps the last bullet point) something like this: Willing to relocate.

      2. Some portals just don’t offer a way to submit a cover letter. There’s nothing you can do except be sure your resume contains all the info you need the employer to see. If it’s a specific company site, then be sure to target your resume to that company culture and job opening.

      3. If you know it’s an employment agency, then target the cover letter to the agency.

      Hope this is useful! Good luck with your online applications!

      • Hi Susan !!
        Thanks for that “organized” comment. Its good to hear nice things from you.
        You have also solved my queries, so a lot of thanks for that too.
        Good Luck with your endeavors.

  47. HELP! With the economy of the last few years I need a job. Would like to go into New Home Sales. I realize the path is through a training program with one of the companies. My BIG problem is learning to write a resume and cover letter with basically no work experience. At the age of 59, I have raised 4 children, volunteered for several sports teams and fundraising for many organizations related to the kids until 8 years ago. Just closed a family ranching business. What and how do I put all this into a resume and cover letter?
    Thanks for any help you can give me..

    • Wow, Patty, you’re making a big transition! Congratulations!

      You need to be a little creative in how you frame your unpaid experience, but even from your short note I can tell you DO have experience for your resume.

      I suggest you start by writing a functional resume. Then convert it to a chronological resume format. This will help you understand and write about your transferable skills and achievements.

      You mentioned a family business. Maybe that’s something that can be included. Maybe you and your family have lived in several homes and done some remodeling. Maybe that involved working with a mortgage company. And you certainly have a personal understanding of what a home needs for a large family. Dig deep to find relevant experiences that support your new career.

      I wish you much success in New Home Sales!

  48. I’ve had some difficulties in my job search. I’m seeking positions in customer service. Although I have some employment gaps that span 6 months to 11 months at a time in my professional history. I would like to know how can I fill in these gaps and make my resume more noticeable.

    • Hello Misha,
      Here’s a trick that might take care of your employment gaps.

      List the years for each job, but do not list months. See if that alone will avoid the look of an employment gap. If that doesn’t work (although I bet it will), get back to us and I’ll try something else.

  49. Hi , i woul like to have an example of resume for a 12 th grader .. what shoul i say ? what would i have to write .

    • Hi 12thgrader,
      I don’t have a resume sample for a 12th grader. But I can give you a few tips to get you started.
      1. Decide what type of job you want.
      2. Make a list of the skills required for that work.
      3. Make another list of paid and unpaid jobs and activities that you’ve done that used the skills and personal qualities that will be used for your job objective.
      4. Mention those jobs and activities in the Experience section of your resume. Remember, a lot of school projects can be used to demonstrate your strengths.
      5. Under Education, be sure to list any special recognition or awards you’ve gotten at school.

      Good luck with your first resume! And have fun on the job you get!

  50. I have been unemployed since January of 2009. I was laid off. But, since then I have been the primary care giver to my grandmother. This has been a 24/7 situation for me. She just recently passed away and now I need to get back in to the job market. How do I discribe this on my resume?

    • Hi Dana,
      I’m sorry for your recent loss. How good that you were able to care for your grandmother in her last few years.

      Elder care is perfectly fine to put on your resume, and is valued, much the way parenting is. So I suggest you list your most current “job” something like this:

      2009-2012, Caregiver to elder family member

      There’s no need to go into details. Stating that it was an elder family member hints that your care giving is no longer needed and won’t compete for your time on the next job. By keeping this job entry brief, you fill the gap in employment and let the employer’s eye fall onto your former job as a restaurant manager.

      Best to you as you move forward.

  51. I need help with my resume. I notice that I get the interviews, but never the job. Is it because I am over 40? Or is it my resume? My resume has been redone a zillion times, by people at Madison Area Technical College, where I just graduated from in May of 2012. I got my associate’s degree in paralegal studies. I do not seem to be getting my foot in the door. Please help!

    • Hello Marie,
      I don’t know if your age is a problem or not. 40 years old certainly isn’t too old to be a good paralegal but maybe your competition is younger and therefore look less expensive from the employer’s view.

      Try going back only 10 years on your resume. That will give the employer enough info to figure out that you are AT LEAST 30 years old, which is true. See if that gets you some interviews.

      Best of luck with your new career!

  52. Hello,

    I relocated from the west coast to the east coast due to my wife’s job. How can I show on my resume or in my cover letter that I was not laid off and left voluntarily. I’ve talked to recruiters who say that I cannot be placed by them because I am looking for a job/unemployed, presumably because I was laid off. I suspect companies are also thinking the same way.

    • Hello Jason,
      I used to live on the East Coast and I loved it. So I hope you love it, too. Finding a job there will help a lot. Right?

      I assume you have listed your East Coast address at the top of your resume. That will help tell the employer that you have moved recently.

      Since you’ve been having trouble getting the point across to recruiters that you didn’t get fired or laid off, I’m going to suggest something I almost never suggest: that you state (on your resume) the reason for leaving your last job. Don’t do it for all the jobs listed on your resume, just your last job. In your last bullet point under that job heading you might say something like: “Relocated to East Coast.” or “Resigned to relocate to East Coast.” Don’t give an explanation about your wife’s job. Short and sweet is the way to go.

      You can also do the same in your cover letter. “Now that I’ve relocated with my family to the East Coast…”

      I hope this helps and you land a job soon!

  53. Susan, I’ve owned and operated a consulting firm for 30 years. All of my work has been helping others achieve their goals. At the end of the day, the accomplishments are theirs. How do I best present this in a resume now that I am transitioning out of my business and looking for a job where I can put this experience to use?

    Many thanks!

    • Hello Louise,
      What a wonderful opportunity for you to take credit for all the good work you’ve done for you business and your employees! On your resume, you can refer to how you:
      – Trained your employees to become excellent at whatever it is they do.
      – Led the team to achieve such-and-such results.
      – Created a work environment that facilitated such-and-such and resulted in cost savings or increased revenue.
      – Fostered the professional development of your staff, which led to employee retention and excellent performance.

      Find ways to show that by helping others you increased the bottom line of the company.
      Does this help? I hope so.
      Good luck in your transition!

  54. Hi Susan, I am so glad to have found this site! I am a 49 year old female trying to get into the job market seriously for the first time. I spent the better part of the past 20 years raising my family. I did work for 6 years (2000-2006) in a field I really enjoyed but had a difficult time finding work/home balance. Also, I went through a divorce a couple of years ago and am currently working at the business my ex and I owned. I sold it after the divorce with the stipulation of employment for 5 years. I basically advise and coach the new owner but obviously this is temporary.
    Two questions: 1. Is an objective still necessary on a resume? If so, how specific? 2. How do I address the position I have now at the business I owned? I do not really have a title but it has been a good bit of responsibility. The new owner is taking over more of the managing now, however and I am transitioning into more of a customer service role. I am not sure how to explain this on a resume. Thank you.

    • Hello Sara,
      To give you a good answer, I need to ask a question: What type of work do you want to do next?
      I’m hoping you’ll get back to us so I can explain a few things I think will be helpful.
      Thank you!

  55. hi susan ,
    i am sandeep . i have done my B.E(ECE) in the year 2010 . aftr my graduation i was managing my family business which is a import/export of dry fruits and general merchandising from june 2010 to march 2012. . from march 2012 to sept 2012 i completd technical training on REMOTE INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT .as my techincal skill .. now am searchng fr job .. so please help me how to fill up my resume with two years gap aftr my graduation.


    • Hello Sandeep,
      I think you’ve gained some valuable experience managing your family’s business during those two years after graduation. I suggest you list it something like this:

      2010-2012, Manager, Name of Business, City
      – Write one or two bullet point statements here that point to your management skills, in particular any technical and team leadership skills you used in this position.

      There’s no need to say that it was your family’s business. Just state it as a job you held. If it comes up in the interview that your family owned it, that’s fine. But there’s no need to say that on your resume.

      Best of luck as you start your new career!

      • thank you very much . …. i will come back to you again if any doubt is there means .. once again thank u susan ..

  56. I am working a contract job, and have a question on how to list this position on my resume. I work for and get paid by company A, for company B, working on location at company C. How would I list this on my resume. The reason I ask is I was told to submit my resume to company C. Company C is a big company and the first people who see my resume a will not know who I am or what loaction I work at. I want them to see that I work at their company but not currently for their company. Thanks in advance.

    • Hello Sue,
      Here’s one way to handle it. List Company A as your employer. State that you are a contractor. Create a subheading called “Selected Clients,” and list Company C under that subheading.

      Something like this:

      Such-and-such Contractor, Company A
      Selected clients:
      Company C
      Company D
      – Achievement statement from your experience at Company C
      – Another achievement from Company C
      – And so forth.

      Think that would work? Let us know!

  57. Hi Susan,
    I have difficult-to-get around resume problems. My most recent employment history consists of three jobs over a period of about two years in which I was “let go” after 4 months or less. I do not think I am a bad employee, perhaps I am working at all the wrong types of places. But, excluding these jobs from my work history would leave a VERY obvious gap in employment. I am a college student working on my B.A. so my history of jobs includes titles such as “hostess” and “bed tech” (at tanning salons). How can I put together a resume in which my employment dates as well as my employment title history do not cause employers to write me off as a bad employee or as being unskilled? (I actually have extensive experience working with computers, the internet, social media, technology, and skills in office administration)

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    • Hi Kellie,
      I have a few quick fixes I think will help:
      1. Right after or under your Experience section heading, put (Concurrent with Education). This will let the employer know that these short-term jobs were on top off a full load of courses.
      2. Use seasons and years instead of months and years when you list dates for those jobs. For example, Summer-Fall 2012 instead of July-October 2012. It makes the jobs look more seasonal than short-term.
      3. If you have unpaid work that you did (such as your computer work) that you did along side these short-term jobs, try listing that unpaid work instead of those jobs. OR, you could even list “Student, such-and-such collage) as the job title in place of those jobs. (If you list “Student” as your job title, then don’t do #1 above.)

      Maybe one or two of these ideas will work for you! I hope so.

  58. hi, i don’t know how to write my resume because i am not finished my high school. and i want to go to the ESL classes. but it’s not good enoght for me and i am looking a job in the wallmart.

    • Hi Nooria,
      Here’s a link to a Resume Workbook for High School Students by my mentor, Yana Parker. I think it might help you figure out what to say on your resume and how to format it.

      The workbook can be downloaded as a PDF and costs $5.00 for an individual. However, if you can’t afford that, you can download it for free. (We use the honor system.)

      Please come back and tell us how you liked it. 🙂

  59. My position is ending in December and I am looking for a new job. My background is customer service and admin work. I am also a part-time student. I have no clue how to put my resume together, namely my objective or skills summary. Since I have worked in admin roles, I don’t really see how I can quantify my work and make it stand out on my resume. I want to keep moving forward professionally and not backwards.

    • Hi Jacqueline,
      My big question to you is: What kind of job do you want next? More customer service and admin work? Something related to your college degree? Something else?

      Try to clarify your objective and that will help you figure out what to put on your resume and how to quantify your experience.

      My resume philosophy is: Your resume is about your future, not your past.

      So start by knowing your objective and all the rest will fall in place.
      Good luck!

      • Hi Susan,

        That is a good question. I have been looking into that to figure out what exactly I wanted to do next. I know I want something that will allow me to use my customer service skills. My degree will be in Communication Studies. I am leaning towards the gov’t. I don’t have gov’t experience so I thought I would have to take something to build towards getting a gov’t postion. What would you suggest? Also, I am interested in getting help with my resume. Can you email me so we can discuss?


    • Carl,
      Glad to help.
      Were you doing anything relevant to your job objective while you were unemployed? Maybe a class or volunteer work that in any way supports your objective? If so create a “job title” to stand for that unpaid work and list it on your resume for the dates 2010-2012. If you don’t have anything relevant to list, create a job title around something that is true and shows you have good character. For example, “Caregiver” or “Parent.”

      Does this help? If not, ask again!

  60. How to overcome block in writing accomplishment statements for each particular job? Seem to be writing job duties without clear concise accomplishments. Have brainstormed and still at a standstill even after reviewing all questions one should ask how I performed job?

    • Hi Susan,
      You’re not alone with this problem. Most of us have trouble writing about ourselves, especially about our accomplishments. Try working with someone else on it. A friend or a professional resume coach. Someone who can be objective, ask probing questions, see your experience from the employer’s point of view, and help you keep your achievements relevant to your objective.

      Good luck with it!

  61. I’m applying to graduate school in computer science. I’m wandering what should I put in my resume? Should I list some of the training and courses such as Dale Carnegie Course? If I have some joined some contests in my field but did not win any prize, or only get into the final round, will listing these experiences help? Or I shouldn’t list such experiences?

  62. Hi Frank,
    To each of your questions, the answer is YES!

    Definitely list training and courses such as Dale Carnegie. It shows you go above the norm to challenge yourself and achieve personal goals.

    Contests in your field tell the reader that you are alert, active, and engaged in your field beyond just book learning. Whether you won a prize or not, it’s a good thing to put on your resume as an academic achievement. It also shows that you like a challenge.

    Also, list community service you’ve been involved in. These types of activities show good character and values.

    Good luck with your graduate school application!

  63. I graduated 2 years ago and I have had a series of temporary jobs since then. My roles have all been really varied and I’ve been using a combination CV so I’ve got the most relevant roles at the top and the others on the second page – but I’m having problems getting another job.
    I do have gaps on my CV of a couple of months at a time when I’ve moved to a different city and had to find a new position, and none of my contracts have lasted very long.
    How can I present my CV so I don’t look like an unreliable job-hopper? I really want to be working again!

    • Hi London,
      The combination CV sounds like a good idea. That will help the employer to take note of your skill sets, rather than your short-term jobs.

      I suggest using years without months when you list your dates. By doing this, you’ll draw less attention to the gaps between the jobs. And in some cases, you might even be able to not list some jobs that fell within the same year as others.

      See if these tips help you. If not, check back in and I’ll see what else I can suggest.

  64. I’m career counselor & employability instructor at Workforce office. Your website is one I highly recommend to all who attend my classes.
    Recently, I’ve learned that some employers are requiring “Executive Classic Resume format” for resumes submitted for their job postings. I’ve been unable to provide credible, useful info on this “new-to-me” resume format. As near as I can figure, it’s what I call “Combination resume” with pertinent skills and accomplishments near top of page and categorized if appropriate.
    Any enlightenment you can provide will be appreciated.
    Thanks – Maureen

    • Hi Maureen,
      To the very best of my knowledge, there’s no new executive format that’s expected across the board in the corporate or nonprofit world. When I hear the term “Classic” it tells me what you and I already know: Executive resume formats should be traditional… nothing wild or too creative.

      Here’s an article by Resume Writer Beth Brown that I feel sums it up for executive resume formats: How to Write an Executive Resume: Reflect Your Executive Self

      Thank you for asking the question, Maureen. I’d like to hear if you learn something else about this.
      Best to you in your good work with job seekers!

  65. 30 yrs of my career were front-line heavy industrial as a tradesman and work crew leader- 15 yrs at large gas distribution utility co. I went back to school and got M.Sc. in management career track program but broke neck and back just as I gradated and had to accept workers’ comp. payout. Degrees are in Organizational Leadership but I have no management background. I was trying to pull myself up out of the ditch and move into managerial roles. Am 52 yrs old and cannot go back into heavy lifting work but have no experience to compete against some very highly accomplished people for the positions I am seeking. I constructed a few resumes that have generated little interest. Summary states: “M.Sc. (2005) w/ 30 yrs hands on, front-line heavy industrial, manufacturing, and production experience as Union Pipefitter and Senior Crew Leader.” I then go on to articulate education, transferable skills and personality strengths along with accomplishments attributable to each skill. I then follow up with work history which show a very diverse background. I finish up with my civic experience as City Councilman and School Board Director for a community. I am desperate for help. I have 6 people depending on me. Thank you for your time.

    • Hello Tim,
      You’re under a lot of pressure. Let’s see if I can help you out a bit.

      It sounds like your resume is telling your story… maybe a little too well. In other words, perhaps you could cut it down so it includes only the last 15 years or so. Then in your Summary, state “More than 15 years experience…” instead of 30 years.

      I suggest you also use the Combination Resume Format, which has skill headings in the Experience section. Pick skill headings that reflect your management and leadership skills. This will help support your objective to move into management. It will say to the reader, “I may not have held a management job title, but I have used management skills in my previous work.”

      I hope these tips help!

  66. Hello, I have a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s in Biology. I am currently working in a laboratory doing technical work and can’t seem to land a job in what I really want to be doing which is public health work. I recently found a job I am interested in, Health /Wellness coach, however, my current resume is very science and laboratory based. I do have some volunteer experience in planning and organizing disease prevention and health awareness activities while I was obtaining my Master’s, but how to I format my resume to be more attractive to a future employer?
    I want to completely leave the field of performing laboratory tests and I do something I actually enjoy.

    • Hello Erica,
      I have a few ideas for your resume:
      – Use a combination resume format. It has skill headings within the Experience section that can help you highlight the coaching and people skills you used in your lab work and volunteer work.
      – In the Experience section, include your volunteer work. If that work was recent, it will appear on page one, which would be good.
      – Put your Education section near the beginning of your resume. This will tell the employer you want to move into public health.
      – Use your Summary section to build a bridge between your past and future. Perhaps a statement that says you have experience working with clients in public health and a background in science.

      I hope this is helpful. Let us know how it goes!

  67. Hi Susan,
    No one seems to address where you put experience that you have in a field that you worked in 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. My example is that I would like to get an entry level part time teller position. My current position is as a field rep for the Census Bureau and I also have my own spa product business (direct sales). I worked as a bank teller for over 6 years but that was in the 70’s. In 2002, I was laid off from my ticket counter job with the airlines so 10 years ago and 30 years ago, I handled money with the type of expertise needed to be a teller. How do I include that on a resume when most companies only want current experience? I have tried several times over the years since 2002 to get a banking job but have not been successful. I even got a few interviews but my age (then and now) is probably a big deterrent. I am 61 and I have a BA in a Liberal Arts field.
    Thank you.

    • Hello Ira,
      I have worked with folks who wanted to highlight jobs that happened very early in their careers. It’s tricky when you don’t want to give dates for those long-ago jobs. Here’s one way to do it: Use either the chronological or combination resume format. Go back 10 or so years in your work history. After that, enter a new heading called “Additional Experience.” Under that heading, list only the jobs that you want to (the ones that support your objective) without putting any dates next to those jobs.

      Here are two resume samples that use this technique very nicely:
      Resume Example: Marketing and Product Management
      Resume Example for Executive Management

      Don’t worry that the job objectives on these resume samples are not the same as yours. It’s the way they handled the early jobs that will help you see how you might handle your bank teller job from way back when.

      Good luck with your job search!

      • Thank you for your answer. I had done that once using “Prior Experience” as a heading. I removed it because I thought maybe it was wrong or unprofessional but I will add it in again using “Additional Experience”. I really appreciate the service you are providing. Thanks again!

        • Yes, I like “Additional” or “More” because it doesn’t exactly say, “When I was younger,” which brings up the issue of age.
          Good luck with it!

  68. Hi Susan,

    I have come across an interesting problem. Many of the jobs for which I am applying require an online application and an uploaded resume. I end up copying my resume into the company’s application system. Should I change my resume? If so, do you suggest combination or a functional.

    Thank you!

    • Hello Debra,
      If a company website asks you to upload your resume, the online system should allow you to browse the hard drive of your computer and upload your Word resume to the site. That’s the best way to do it because the formatting will pretty much stay in place. That being the case, there’s no need to create a special version of your resume for the upload.

      If you have narrowed your resume format choices to functional or combination, go with the combination resume format. It’s much more welcomed by employers these days. (See my post: 4 Reasons Not to Use a Functional Resume Format)

      Does that help?

      • Hi Susan,

        I just re-read my question and I don’t think I clearly described my thoughts.

        These company websites require both an uploaded resume and an online application form. The online application must be filled out and a separate resume must be uploaded before I can apply for any position in the company. It is very odd.

        The online application form essentially replicates all items on a chronological resume. This leaves me wondering why they ask for a separate uploaded resume at all. Or if they’re looking for a resume that is more functional in nature.

        What do you think?

        • Hello Debra,
          When you type (or copy and paste) your info into the online application form and submit the form, your info goes directly into the employer’s database system. That form is standard for all applicants and is in the chronological format.

          The resume you upload has room for more creativity. You can insert skill headings within the Experience section (making it a combination format). And you can use Word features such a bold, indents, and other things to make your resume pleasing to the eye. You can also put resume sections in any order you want so your best is on top, second best is second from the top, and so forth.

          I can’t say for sure how each company uses its system. But I can see where they might use their search engine select the top candidates (with the best keywords) from the database of applications and then have recruiters or hiring managers look at the uploaded resumes for those top candidates.

          Make sense?

  69. I have the Perfect Resume 5th edition, my question is this. I am trying to enter a new career, Fiber Optic Tecnician. I did not see or find info on new careers. My unemployment runs out soon, so therefore I cannot put out more money to get professional help. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Berni

  70. I am applying for the following post –

    Position Title: INSTRUCTOR – Operations Management
    Report: Academic and Operations Division

    Description: The instructor will need to facilitate the Operations Management course to provide positive learning experience for Meta Business School (MBS) students. Detailed responsibilities are listed below.

    I am a 2nd year Doctoral student at Wilmington University in Delaware. I am a graduate assistant and I have Online Education experience through using Blackboard, Sakai and Moodle.

    So my query was that what type of reume should i use…funtional, chronological or combination/hybrid ??

    • Hello Danraj,
      From all you’ve told us, I suggest you use a CV in the chronological format. It’s what the employer is expecting and it seems your qualifications will fit nicely into that format.

      If you find you need to highlight some skill sets, you might add skill headings within your Experience section, which would make it a combination format (see Sample Combination Resume Format). Employers also like that format.

      But do not use the functional format. Most employers don’t like functional resumes so using one will do you more harm than good.

      Best to you with your job search!

  71. I will be ending my time in service for the military in 6 months and have what I believe is a good resume. I have attended all the transition classes but the resume class was rushed and over crowded. What are some good examples or resources to compare what I have come up with against others?

    • Hello Charlie,
      I don’t have as many military-to-civilian resume samples on my site as I’d like. I suggest browsing to find books on the topic. Check the Table of Contents to see which ones have resume samples in them.

      Thank you for your service, and welcome home!

  72. I have spent the last ten years helping to care for my grandparents and parents. I also spend time making things to sell at craft shows. Now I need to get an outside of the house job. I have no real marketable job skills. How do I explain all this on a resume?

    • Hello Joanna,
      Depending on what type of job you go for you could list your recent gap in employment something like this:

      2003-2013, Elder Caregiver, City, State
      2003-2013, Artist/Craftsperson, City, State

      Then create bullet point statements that speak about the skills you used, what you learned, and projects you completed that relate to your job objective.

      I know you said you don’t think you have “real marketable job skills,” but I believe you do. If you sit down with a job counselor to uncover those skills and figure out what kind of work you are suited for (and would enjoy), I’m sure you’ll see that you have many skills an employer would like to have on his team.

      Enjoy your discovery process!

  73. Help…I worked at a large company in NYC where I was a permanent employee, then got laid off (and worked for them as a contractor), then got re-hired, then got laid off and yes, again, worked for them again as a contractor. — Yikes! How do I position this on my resume?

    • Hi Judy,
      When you list this rather complex work history, list years only (no months). If the gap between contracts was a few months, you could list it something like this:

      2008-2013, Job Title (contractual), ABC Company, City, State
      Project name or type of work, 3 months, 2011-2012
      Project name or type of work, 5 months, 2010
      Project name or type of work, 13 months, 2008-2009

      Would that work?

      • Yes, this is a bit complex (an understatement!) I was with the company in actuality from 2008 to 2012, however, what makes it unique is that I was a permanent employee for about 1 year, then got laid off BUT worked for the same company as a temp for another year in various departments, then secured a permanent job with them AGAIN, before getting laid off again all within that time frame. I was with the company for that time period but not on a consistent basis as a full time employee for (4 years).

        • How about this?

          2008-2012, ABC Company, City, State
          Job Title, 2011-2012
          Type of work (contractual), 2009-2010
          Job Title, 2008-2009

          I may have the years wrong, but does this concept work?

  74. Possibly might work, but my real concern is that I do not want to appear as a “job hopper” and address confusion to the reader. Perhaps there is another concept, functional/chrono? I have to really think about this challenge. I really appreciate your input!! I have your book as well.

    • If you use this concept within a chronological format, I believe it will work. You won’t look like a job hopper. You’ll look like someone who worked for the same company under different arrangements.
      Good luck with your job search!

  75. Hello Susan,
    I’m sure this is not a unique situation to you,
    but, I don’t see it specifically addressed. I am an older, experienced worker with many experiences. I have become unemployed and I’m, by no means, not ready to retire. I am physically fit and healthy.
    Sales has always been a prominent part of my work, however, I have also achieved management all the way to business ownership. Fields of experience include, retail, outside B2B, food service, automotive, in-home sales and a few others. A lot of the experience I possess will cross from field to field. I have not had to update my resume’ in many years. What approach do you recommend?

    • Hello J. W.,
      If you want to stay in Sales, I suggest you use a chronological resume format. Once you have that polished, use your sales skills to sell yourself through your professional and personal networks. Your new resume will be your sale brochure, which you can use online and in person.

      In your resume, be sure to show results of your achievements by using numbers, dollar signs, and the percent sign. This will give your reader solid info to hang on to and ask you about in your job interview.

      Good luck with your ongoing career!

  76. Hi Susan,

    I have a similar situation to Judy and among other questions, I’m still not sure what is the best type of resume format to use.

    I worked for a company for about ten years until I was laid off. During the next four years I worked for them about once a year for short periods, both as a contractor and as a temp. part-time employee with gaps of about 9 months to a year.
    I have had a few other short-term contract work periods in the same field during the same period.
    Quest. 1: Do I have to list the name of each of those companies and short employment periods (periods range from days to about 3 months) for each one or is it better to simply note something like: 2008 to present, job title (same for all), contractor for various companies?

    Quest. 2: What type of resume should I use?
    Please note, I want to make a career change and hope to use transferable skills into any job/co. that’s hiring, if you know what I mean.

    Quest. 3: Since my last 20 yrs. have been in the same field, should I include work history prior to that to show more diversity.

    Quest. 4: With my bachelor’s degree and years of employment, a prospective employer can make an educated guess of my age. If this is hurting my chances for an interview, what if anything can I do?

    I appreciate any help and tips, thanks!

    • Hello Dora,
      Thank you for presenting your resume questions so clearly. I can see you’re an organized person. 🙂

      Let me go through each of your points:
      1. You don’t have to list every single job you held. As long as you don’t have gaps in your work history. If you use years (no months) when listing your jobs, you should you’ll be fine if you leave some of those short-term jobs off your resume. It’s also okay to group them together as you suggest. The only thing I would do is not use the word “various.” Just say “Contractor” or the type of businesses if they are similar in nature (for example, Contractor for financial services firms). The word “various” sounds scattered (in my opinion).

      2. For a career change, I advise you to use a combination resume format. It will show off your transferable skills very nicely.

      3. If showing diversity helps you make your career change, then you can list jobs prior to your 20 years. If you’re concerned that those early jobs will make you look too old on your resume, create a new subsection at the end of your Experience section. Call that section “Additional Experience” and list those early jobs without dates.

      4. If age is a concern, do not list the dates of your degrees. Whether that date is hurting your chances depends on the type of job you’re going for.

      Hope this is helpful, Dora. Good luck with your career change!

  77. I have been with the same package delivery company for 27 years and now I want to change careers and move to another state 1000 miles away – all at the same time. I have learned that I love the customer service aspect of what I do the most and would like to work in a customer service role in my new career. Transferable skills would be customer service, safety, works well under stress and tight deadlines, able to communicate well with customers. I have written a few articles that have been published by a parcel trade magazine, but I don’t enjoy writing for a career. What kind of resume should I write? I do not have any college but I do have a diploma from a technical school which would be totally unrelated to what I want to do. I need more that an entry level job because I still have kids at home that I need to support.
    Any resume help would be appreciated.

  78. Hi Susan! I am loving your book, thanks for writing it! I have a question for you: Most of the courses I took during my Bachelor studies were related to marketing, but I was one or two courses short from completing a “marketing and advertising” major. I want to tell the employer that I took most of these courses, but I don’t want to say I have the major because maybe that would be “stretching the truth”. What could I write instead? I do have a BSc. in Communications, but no major. My marketing experience was basically obtained through experience. Thank you!

    • Hi Ruth,
      You could list it something like this:

      Marketing and Advertising Coursework
      Such-and-Such College, 20xx-20xx

      Things to note:
      – I didn’t use the word “Degree.” I called it coursework
      – Dates are listed next to the college, not the coursework.
      – There are two dates, a start-date and an end-date. This tells the reader that you’ve left the college and didn’t complete your degree program.

      Also, put your Education lower on your resume where it will be seen but not highlighted. In other words, don’t put it above your Experience section.

      Happy job hunting!

  79. Hi i have been out of work for 3 years due to having my son and caring for him myself at home. Im not sure how to explain this gap in my CV

    Can you help

    Many thanks

    • Hello Amy,
      How wonderful that you took three years to be with your son! Now that you’re a mom returning to the workforce, you’ll need to explain your span of unemployment on your resume.

      If you’re entering a field that in any way values childcare (if you’re a teacher, healthcare provider, or want a career that’s some how involved with kids) then you can list “Full-time parent” on your resume.

      If you’re not going into a kid-focused field, then you could list unpaid work you did that’s relevant to your job objective. For example, if you did fundraising or website development for a nonprofit, you could list that.

      For more “job titles” that might work for you, please see: How to Explain Unemployment on Your Resume.
      Happy re-entry into your professional career!

  80. Thanks so much for all your tips! I have two quick questions.

    1. I currently am working as a temp secretary and seeking full time employment. I’d like to add to my resume that I am often requested for by different clients, how can I word this?

    2. I have not finished college but it is a goal of mine. Should I add this in my current objective?

    Ty again!

    • Hello Nikki,
      You could write something like:
      – Often requested by several of the agency’s clients for special projects.

      Not sure what you mean by your second question. Are you asking if you should use the term “full-time” in your job objective? An employer will assume you want a full-time job unless you state “part-time.”

      Hope that helps!

  81. Hi Susan.

    I am looking for some help with my resume. After graduating as a paralegal in 2011, my future plans have been hampered due to an unfortunate accident. While I am recruperating from physical therapy.I want to work on my resume. I had a three months of unpaid legal internship which was part of the course. I want to include that as my work history. however I have to mention months as this is my only work experience in US so far. I do have over 10 years of admin experience in India, Canada and Dubai which I am thinking of putting under Additional work experience. Can you please suggest if I can put my recent education on top along with others as I am planning to apply for admin jobs as well. Can I club my admin experience under additional and highlight the key points.

    • Hello Sangita,
      Yes. Good idea to put your Education with new certification near the start of your resume.

      About listing your internship and jobs, here’s how I would format your resume:

      20xx-2012, Paralegal Student, ABC School, City
      3-month Internship, DFG Law Firm
      – Bullet point about that internship
      – One or two more bullet points about that internship

      20xx-20xx, Job Title, Employer, City, India
      – Bullet point
      – Bullet point

      20xx-20xx, Job Title, Employer, Dubai
      – Bullet point
      – Bullet point

      20xx-20xx, Job Title, Employer, City, Canada
      – Bullet point
      – Bullet point

      In other words, don’t list your prior jobs under Additional Experience. Create an Experience section for your school, internship, and employed work.

      Wishing you a quick return to your job search!

  82. Hi Susan,
    I was searching for a resume format there itself I have seen your website. I am pursuing CA-Final. I have done my graduates in Commerce(B.Com). And as my family is undergoing a financial crisis so, I am looking for a part time employment while sitting at home. Can you advise me in this regard also (as in how to apply for it) in addition with the resume making format . I feel that i would need a resume so as to put that on some websites. Will you please tell me that, what all contents and the type of format that i can give in my resume.This is my first time in making a resume. I will be highly obliged if you would help me in this .
    Waiting for an earliest response.

    • Hello Diksha,
      Since this is your first time writing your resume, I’m going to point you to my online resume guide, 10 Steps: How to Write a Resume. That will cover most of your questions.

      When it comes to posting your resume online, the resume or company website will have instructions for doing that. It’s simply a matter of uploading your Word resume to the site. You don’t need to do any special resume formatting to make it work.

      Good luck with your first job search!

  83. Hi Susan,

    since 2009, I’ve been searching for a job in hospitality. I worked in different positions in non-hospitality companies for not being unemployed. I got some gasps in my unemployment history because I didn’t find a job. How can I explain that on my resume?

    Thanks in advance!

  84. Hi Susan,

    I am having an extremely hard time with my resume. I have been working in small companies wearing many hats for most of my career which seems look negative on my resume. I am told I should change my resume from a chronological resume to a professional resume. However, I have no clue how to format the resume. I am receiving lots of different advise as how to improve my resume but I am not sure which advise to take. Do you have any ideas?

    Thank You!

    • Hello Amy,
      Do you know what kind of work you want to do next? That’s the place to start. Knowing what you want so you can create a resume that markets you for that kind of work.

      You said you thought that “wearing lots of hats” was a negative on your resume. So let’s turn it into a positive. Once you know what hat you want to wear next, you can focus your resume on THAT hat and downplay or ignore the other hats you’ve worn in the past. By having a strong resume focus on your job objective, your resume will be far more effective than one that makes you look like a generalist. Make sense?

      As to resume format: A chronological resume format IS a professional resume format. In fact, it’s the most professional resume format. Another good one for you might be the combination resume format if you want to highlight your transferable skills.

      Let us know how it goes!

  85. I have many years with a employer, I have been laid off I am 54 years old. And only have a GED. What are my options when writing a resume. Thank you

  86. Gwen,
    I sounds as if a combination resume format would be good for your many years with one employer. You can break your achievement statements into two skill groups and that will make the whole set look more interesting. Those two skill headings should be the two key skills for your job objective.

    Under Education, there’s no need to list your GED (unless the job post asks for one). You can list any classes or independent studies you’ve done that support your objective.

    Happy resume writing!

  87. I have 2 work experience in one time , because am worked morning and evening in different companies . How to explain this on my CV

    • Hello Razaz,
      Here’s a thought: If one of your two jobs is more relevant to your job objective, you might list just that one on your CV. Leave the other one off. It will make you look more focused on your career. It will also look more appealing to an employer because he won’t worry that you’re going to keep one of those jobs while you work for him.

      You will, of course, need to list both jobs on your job application. But on your CV, you don’t have to.
      Hope this helps!

  88. i’m a fresher….just got passed out in May 2012. I’hv done my bachelor’s in Electronics and communication. but from May till now i’m jobless…so how should i prepare a good resume…i’hv done 2 months interships in two different firms during my second and third year in two different firms and was also involved in my colleges cultural fest. i’hv done a C++ course also in my high school.
    hobbies are-soccer and music and painting.
    i guess that will be enough for making a resume as thtx wat i use to have a resume but i want you to have a better one for me …..please help me out.
    thnx in advance

    • Hi Pete,
      Here are four resume tips that will help you get started:

      1. Use a Chronological Resume Format.
      2. Place your Education section near the start of your resume.
      3. Create your Experience section heading like this:
      (Concurrent with Education)
      4. Use the paid and unpaid experience you have by listing them in the Experience section with “job titles.” Don’t worry about gaps in time between the job titles. “(Concurrent with Education)” explains that.

      Good luck finding that new and exciting job!

  89. Hi Susan,

    I have two difficulties in terms of my resume creation.

    1. My trade union background could turn prospective employers off.

    2. My aim is to become a health & safety manager but despite high safety qualifications, I have no management experience. I appreciate that having to deal with directors, senior managers on a daily basis, I do have a form of management experience.

    Any ideas on how to amalgamate the positions together for an effective resume?

    Or which strategy I should follow with a mixture of words and strengths?

    Many Thanks

    Sheffield UK

  90. Hi Susan,

    I am helping a friend create a resume and I have a couple questions.

    1. I’d like to highlight a couple of her relevant job positions, but unfortunately they are spread apart in years. She is looking for an office manager position and has office experience in 2012-2013, 2007-2008, and 2006-2007. Most of the years in between are serving positions. Is there any way to list these separately without making it look very confusing chronologically? Or do you have another suggestion? My worry in doing it chronologically is that I have to list 6 total job positions (3 of them are serving positions) in order to list her 3 office-related positions.

    2. Also, she has a 2 year gap in employment in which she was a full-time parent. How does one typically format that?

    Thanks so much for your help. I was very grateful to find someone who answers all the questions they receive!


    • Hi EB,
      How wonderful that you’re helping your friend with her resume. Let’s see if I can help YOU.

      It’s very tempting to use a functional resume format in this case. But employers tend not to like them so I think it’s best to use the chronological format. Yes, that will mean listing six jobs, but of the two options (functional or chronological), I think the chronological stands the best chance of success.

      For her unemployed span of time, please see How to Explain Unemployment on Your Resume where I list ways to handle this. I think that will help.

      Thanks for writing in!

  91. Hi
    Thanks for your earlier suggestion. I want one more. I want to apply for CA Articleship Industrial Training . There Ineed to mention the time when I passed my Intermediate Exams. This Exam has got two groups that can be passed once at a time. But there is a problem I had passed both of them in two two attempt. I dont want to mention these many attempts. So how to mention it in my Resume. Thanks

    • Hi Diksha,
      On your resume you can list just the date for the time when you passed the exam. No need to mention your other attempts.
      Good luck!

  92. Hi,
    I was wondering when posting a resume on a job site is it best to post a cover letter along with it or should you write a cover letter for each individual job that you apply to?

    • Hello Noel,
      It’s always good to post a cover letter if the website gives you that option. And then, when you apply to a specific job, write a targeted cover letter for that job.
      Hope that helps!

  93. I am confused as to whether or not I should have two seperate resumes. I have experience in customer service and teaching, should my professional summary speak of both or…..

    • Ah, Heather, you’ve given me a chance to tell you my resume philosophy: Your resume is about your future, it’s not about your past.

      This means that on your resume you should highlight on the aspects of your work history that paint the picture of your future. So, if you’re going for a teaching job, highlight your teaching experience. If you’re going for a customer service job, highlight your customer service experience.

      Good luck with it!

  94. Hi Susan,

    I had a question for you. We’re working on a resume for a very experienced communications consultant, who worked for a consulting firm for 10 years. During that time she consulted on a wide-range of projects for a wide-range of companies and clients. She is re-building her resume and would like to know if it would be best to format her professional history by first listing the firm she worked for and a general description of her worked performed for them. Then, under the description of her general consulting experience, list her experience by project category (for example, compensation programs, wellness programs, etc.) Under each of the project areas, she would then describe the products in greater depth and highlight bullet points of specific accomplishments, etc. Here’s a brief example:

    Consulting Firm 2000-2010
    [Experience involves a wide variety of projects, including…]

    Project Experience
    [Below you will find a grouping of projects, clients, and accomplishment performed as a consultant for XX.]

    Compensation Programs
    [Description of programs and projects in general]
    – Highlights of accomplishments

    [List of Clients for Compensation Programs]

    Wellness Programs
    [Description of programs and projects in general]
    – Highlights of accomplishments

    [List of Clients for Wellness Programs]

    etc., etc.,

    Do you think this would be the best way to showcase her work? Our fear in not clearly separating the projects is that her resume will be overwhelming because she has such a wide-variety of work to showcase.

    Cannot tell you how much we appreciate your help!!

    E & S

    • Hello E&S,
      I think this is an excellent format for your client. It will look tidy and easy to read. In a way, it’s a combination resume format, which employers like.

      Oh, one thing: There’s no need for this: [Below you will find a grouping of projects, clients, and accomplishment performed as a consultant for XX.] It will be clear from the way it’s all listed under the employer heading.

      Bravo for being creative in coming up with this idea!

  95. Hi Susan.
    I have worked in the finance industry for 15 years and now wish to abandon this to move to Italy and teach English and work in Roman historey related tourism. The problem is here I need to combine an ESOL CV with an ACADEMIC one and then show my unrelated 14 years of finance roles.
    How can I do this?
    Many thanks in advance. REgards,


    • Hello Amanda,
      You need to list that finance experience on your resume. You have two options for doing that:

      List the jobs without any bullet point statements.
      List the jobs WITH bullet point statements, making those statement show how the job was relevant to your objective even though it was not in your new career field. For example,
      – Worked with clients from diverse backgrounds.
      – Explained details to people with different learning styles.

      Enjoy your new career in Italy!

  96. hi susan,
    I have three questions
    1. is it ok to use tables in the resume for educational qualitication
    2. I have divided my resume in two coloums, in left I have written the personal information, name, email, address, hobbies, interests etc. and right half is wider than left and in right career objective, edufational qualification, skills etc are included. the left half is in a box and highlighted. I want to know that is there any problem with it.
    3. Should I outline the page?
    please reply fast.
    thank you.

    • Hello Mahendra,
      Here are three quick answers to your questions:
      1. Do not use tables in your resume. Here’s why: Warning! Don’t Use a Resume Template That Has Tables.
      2. Don’t use a two-column resume format. It won’t work well with an employer’s database system.
      3. It’s fine to have a border around your resume if you like the way it looks. I have some resume templates with that design in my Ready-Made Resumes program. I think they look really smart.

      Happy resume writing!

  97. Hello,
    How long should a resume be?Should I include an objective,profile, or job summary at the beginning?What heading would field study and volunteer work be under?

  98. Hello Susan,
    I recently went to a career fair and was invited to an informational interview. At the interview, the two ladies interviewing me immediately began asking me questions relevant to the specific position I had expressed interest in at the career fair. It seemed to be less of an “informational interview” and more of a regular interview (which surprised me at first, but I went with the flow). It went rather well, but by the end of it, we all seemed to agree that it might not be the best fit for me now (due to the fact that I would only have time to work during the summer). One of the ladies said that even if it was not the best fit for me now, I could contact her if I had any more questions. They both gave me their cards. Now, I would like to send them each a Thank You card. I saw the “Thanks, but no thanks” example you provided, but could you please provide one that is more custom tailored to this situation? I am not sure I want this specific position, since it is a bit of stretch in terms of being in line with my future goals. However, I would like to express my gratitude all the same. I am also working on networking and would like to keep the connections open. After all, the ladies are aware of my goals/skills and may hear of or know other people who are offering jobs directly related to my college major/ future goals. I really am interested in a retail position that would enable me to gain experience while applying my communication knowledge. Thus, an example of a “Thanks, but no thanks” for an informational interview would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  99. I have been out of work since June 2012. I quit my last job after 6 months due to the management who were also the owners. It was the worst job I have ever had and couldn’t take it anymore, they think I left due to a family situation. If I leave this job off my resume, it looks like I’ve been unemployed for over a year. My question is how do I do the cover letter, I have not done volunteer work, I have taken workshops at the Employment Office for resumes. I have been staying home with my family. Have been job searching since I quit, sent out over 40 resumes and no calls. I have had my resumes/cover letters redone by the Employment Office and still nothing. How do I work the gap on my cover letter. I have tried putting “taking care of family” to try and fill in the gap, but still no response. All of the jobs before this last one I had been there 4 yrs or longer. I am going back to school in April part time, but some of the jobs I have been applying for I don’t put it in the cover letter because its not relevant to the position. I have done everything I can think of, and even my counselor at the Employment Office is at a loss. I need help please. I don’t know what else to do.

    • Hello Chris,
      I can see how hard you’ve been working to resolve this. Here are my thoughts for more success with your resume.

      1. Don’t rely on your cover letter for handling these issues. In fact, ignore your problems in your letter and only talk about your strengths.
      2. On your resume, you need to list that job you didn’t like. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, but you need to use it to cover that span of time.
      3. After that job, list something like “Family Caregiver” or “Parent.” Again, don’t make a big deal about it unless your job objective is in the care giving, teaching, or similar field.
      4. As soon as you start school in April, list that in your work history like this.
      Present, Student, Name of School
      If your field of study is relevant, then include that in your listing like this.
      “Such-and-Such Student”
      (for example, “Business Management Student”)
      5. MOST IMPORTANT: Use your network to apply for jobs. Ask people you know if they know someone who might have a job in your line of work. Get a personal introduction and use it to apply to that company. Your network will bring you much more success than blind resume postings or mass emails.

      Good luck with your new start!

    • Hi Ericka,
      It really isn’t about which resume format you use for your resume. You should list your computer skills if it supports your job objective. So, if you’re going for a job that requires specific computer skills, then you should mention those skills either in a statement or even create a whole Skills section where you list them. Again, it depends on how important it is to your job objective.

  100. Hi Susan, I friend of mine turned me onto your site to help with my resume, but after going over the various formats, I still have a question: I am a law graduate who clerked, and then articled at a practice for 2 years after my graduation in 2003. After deciding I hated what I was doing, I took time to assess what I might really want to do. This took much longer than I thought and before you know it, 7 years have passed with only me having had various waitressing jobs between 2005-2013 to show for it.

    I now have my ambition back and am applying for various government jobs (geared toward defense/intelligence analysis). It is a career change, even though I have many relevant, applicable skills .Even if I do a combination resume, the FIRST thing someone will see is that I have been a waitress for the last 7 years and probably not bother reading the rest of my resume. Can I list my jobs/skill set by placing the last, relevant one (2003-2004 Clerking for judges) FIRST and then work my way to the present, so at least they will get to see my most important skills first? Please help! It’s very frustrating b/c I want a recruiter to see that I am so much more than just a waitress!

    Thank you!

    • Hello Kay,
      Although there’s no rule that says you can’t list your jobs in real chronology (most resumes list jobs in reverse-chronology) I don’t advise it. It will either look like a mistake or look like you don’t know how it’s supposed to be listed.

      Here’s a thought. You could call your Experience section “Relevant Experience.” For the last seven years you could have one entry: “Customer Service positions in the private sector” with one statement that refers to working with customers from diverse backgrounds and anything else that you think relates to working in the government sector. Under that, list your law jobs something like this: “Positions in the legal field.” Then create a sub-list of your exact job titles and write some statements that support your objective.

      Try that and see how it looks. Fuss around with it a bit, moving things around, using bold here and there until you create the best image on paper possible.

      Good luck!

  101. Hi Susan!

    Your site has been so helpful! I have a specific question regarding my last position. I was with a company as a high performer for 11 years — promoted twice with raises. Unfortunately, my boss and I had some issues that occurred in the last 6 months. I was fired for upholding a security policy my boss tried to circumvent and going through a problem-solving policy process, I was given the choice to resign with a reference. However, I am now a month into my job search and I am struggling to maintain honesty based on the shame of essentially being fired. How do I handle this on applications, my resume and upon direct questioning? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance.


    • Hi Todd,
      Since I’m a resume expert, I’ll stick to the resume part of your question. And my answer is easy: Don’t say anything on your resume about why you left the job. Treat it exactly as you would if you had resigned. There’s no need to bring up being fired on a resume. Just keep things positive. Talk about all your achievements for that last 11 years.

      I suggest you speak with an interview coach about how to handle it in person. If you send me a message through the contact link at the bottom of this webpage, I’ll be happy to refer you to the interview coach on my team.

      Thanks for your question!

  102. Dear Susan,

    I am extremely grateful to have come across your site. I read in your feedback that you have interview coaches? Could you please provide a referral?


  103. Hi Susan,

    It’s been nine years since I’ve worked because of major health problems. I’m finally ready to work once again but I’m stomped on what to do on my resume. Four years ago I went back to school and got certifications for two years but right after that other health problems occurred. I’m ready again for work to be able to pay bills and for peace of mind. I will have seizures forever but I’m not worried about that for. I’m stomped because all my bosses are retired or passed away and don’t have names to put on my work references page. I don’t know where to start. Do I have to do something difference or unusual on my resume to have a chance? Thanks a lot Susan!

    • Hello Dave,
      Wow, you’ve had a rough ride! But thankfully we have the Internet to come to your rescue… I hope.

      Have you done some good google searches for your old bosses. If they’re still alive, they must be working somewhere or retired and living somewhere. How about your former co-workers? They could also serve as references. LinkedIn is a good place to search for these people.

      You might also think about projects you’ve done during your unemployment where you worked with or under someone. Could one of them speak on your behalf? If you have nothing in that area, could you start something pro bono right away? As soon as you have a little time working on your new project, ask yout “boss” if they could write you a short referral. That way you would have something in writing to use over and over into the future.

      You don’t have to work with your referee in person. I once agreed to be a reference for someone who had written a lot for my LinkedIn discussion group. I felt good about recommending him as an expert in his field even though I’ve never met him in person.

      Wishing you the best as you get back into the job market!

  104. Hi Susan,
    I am grateful to have found your very informative website. My situation is a bit tricky in that I have over 14 years of odd job experience working in 5 different Nursing Homes often as a caregiver. I got burned out longtime ago but kept working while trying to attend college. In 2011, I graduated with a BS in Business Management from a State University. Since then I have tried to apply for jobs in vain. I do use chronological resume format and list my previous Nursing Home caregiver jobs, but the fact of matter is that I want to obtain a professional job – something in line with management. I am tired of late night shifts and lifting heavy elderly sick people. I have given enough and now ready for a new beginning that will enable me take care of my health. I just turned 40 years old last month. My reaching out to the local employment office did not help either. In fact they helped me write the resume that I have been using with no success. Thanks

    • Hello Ken,
      I think a combination resume format would be best for your career change. Take you chronological resume format and insert skill headings that reflect your management and team leadership achievements under your former nonmanagement job titles.

      To see what I mean, please see these Combination Resume Examples for Career Change. These resume samples are not in your field, but the same techniques they used can be used for your resume.

      Good luck with your new career in management!

  105. I was laid off 2yrs ago due to down-sizing and have not been gainfully employed since,during this time a family member became ill and I became “her person”. I am now ready to re-enter the workforce but don’t know how to explain the vacancy of employment for the last two years. Please help!

  106. Hi Susan,
    I am reformatting my resume from an old chronological format to a combination format because of career change and lapse of consistent work. I was let go due to down sizing. I was in the print/newspaper field and wish to apply for a medical receptionist job. During that time I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My question is since I know the position I want to apply for is a plastic surgeon, is there a way I could add this in a cover letter to convey my interest in working in this environment. Also, to explain additional my desire for career change. Thanks for any advice.

    • Hello Suzanne,
      First, I’m so sorry about your breast cancer. It sounds as if you won the battle and are ready to go back to work. Yeah!

      It’s a delicate matter, talking about cancer. But I think you’re onto something about talking about it in your letter to the plastic surgeon (if you had reconstructive surgery). Perhaps, in your cover letter you could say that you had reconstructive surgery last year, which led to your interest in working in that field. Or something like that without going into detail about why you had the surgery.

      Best to you in your new career!

  107. Dear madam,
    I have completed my B-Tech automotive engineering in 2010.I have only 6 months experience as a design engineer( November 2011- April 2012). After that i wasted my time for GRE and other courses to do my MS in germany, But unfortunately i didnt get admission.I really want try new job. How can mention these gap wisely in my resume.Please help me.


    • Hello Sajith,
      You said, “wasted my time.” Maybe you need to turn around the way you think about that. You “spent” your time is more like it, I would say. So, on your resume you can put “Student” followed by the area of study. Don’t mention that you didn’t pursue your MS. Just use those studies to fill your gap in employment on your resume.

      Good luck with your resume!

  108. Hello,
    I’m a freshman in college building a resume for a Co-operative education experience in Nursing through my school. I want to include that I passed a NOCTI skills test in Health Assisting with high achievement since I am applying for an assisting position. The test isn’t required but is incredibly useful and will really set me apart from other applicants. Where in my resume should I put it? Skills? Education?

    • Hello Zach,
      If you’re putting your Education section high on your resume, you could list your NOCTI skills test in that section. If Education section is at the end of your resume, you could mention the test in one of your Summary statements, and then also list it in your Education section.

      Good luck getting your new job!

  109. Hi Susan,

    I am having difficulty in writing a resume due to owning my own business for over 24 years. I am not sure where to even start. I have extensive experience in many areas including but not limited to HR, Payroll, Inventory, Accounting, Customer Service, State employment laws, advertising, advertising design and all that goes into managing your own business. How could I put this into a resume without sounding like I am a know-it-all or like I want to take over their company. The company I owned employed up to 30 employees and did over 3 million in sales a year. Due to the economy and the building I rented I had to close the business.

    There is also the factor of age discrimination (which I know for a fact has happened to me). I think that once I am granted an interview they will like me.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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