Q: I’m getting some interviews, but the question about gaps in my employment always comes up. I’m not sure how to handle that anymore.
I’ve been unemployed since January doing some landscaping on the side here and there. However, I haven’t listed that on my resume. I don't usually include that when I fill out job applications either. It’s just self-employment and I know how employers feel about that. I was told to leave it off and just explain it in the interview.
A: The person who told you not to mention self-employment didn’t do you any favors. While employers generally prefer to see traditional jobs, they don’t want to see that a person hasn’t been working. Good for you for getting interviews, even with your gaps.
Aren’t you looking for an employer who wants to see that you take the initiative and can be counted on to finish what he starts? Sell landscaping in terms that parallel the work you want. For example, you could refer to obtaining customers, providing customer service, attending to detail and completing projects in a timely manner. Write me again if you have difficulty with this.
Q: A career counselor advised me to change my resume. He suggested replacing the paragraphs with job descriptions in my work history to three bullets, each representing a major accomplishment. Is this the right way to go?
A: The career counselor’s suggestion that you shift to accomplishments rather than job descriptions is excellent, because the new approach will tell employers why they should hire you (i.e., that you get specific results). Results will make your resume more compelling and employers more interested in meeting with you.
To determine what to include, think about what you did and ask yourself, “What difference did it make?” or “So what?” Prioritize your accomplishments for each job. Avoid repeating yourself as much as you can. Let the quality of the accomplishments – from the employer’s perspective – determine whether you should have multiple bullets, none or some in between.
Instead of adhering rigidly to a set figure, go for quality and relevance. This method will take time, but it will help you develop a far better resume and personal pitch.