In the past few weeks, a number of tried-but-true adages have popped into my mind, even though I struggled hard to keep them at bay. While I could not locate exact quotations, the main theme of the adages was “you can’t be objective about your own life/work/writing, thus you need a trusted colleague or friend to tell you the truth.”
This revelation came to me in the midst of a job search, while working with a recruiter. She suggested that I lop off the first 13 years of my career on my resume (blasphemy!), as the work I had done during those early years was not relevant to my search. “Not relevant!” I proclaimed. “Those work years were the basis of everything I’ve done since!”
The recruiter nodded wisely and sympathetically but persevered. And I finally had to admit that she was right. Without revealing my exact age, suffice it to say that I’ve had a long, rewarding career, and those first 13 years, while precious to me, would not matter one bit to a hiring manager.
In an earlier resume tips column, I talked about having a second, or even third, set of eyes read and critique your resume before launching it into employment cyberspace. I would revise that suggestion to emphasize the need for someone objective to serve in this role, someone who would not be afraid to perhaps offend you with his/her honesty.
The above-named recruiter was prepping me for an interview with a client of hers and wanted me to do my best. She could look at my resume and make suggestions for cutting out unnecessary information while retaining the parts that were relevant to the job at hand.
I had also flown in the face of age discrimination in hiring, which is alive and well in today’s market, by listing every job I’d ever had on my resume. While I didn’t elaborate beyond employer, title, and dates, the information was pointing squarely to my age. I had always believed in telling the full truth (harking back to my column “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But”), but this recruiter convinced me that leaving out more than one-third of my work years was not dishonest. In her eyes, I was simply focusing on the experience relevant to the job and could bring in earlier experience if needed during an interview.
This epiphany was nothing less than shocking to me and was certainly a loud wake-up call.
I was writing other peoples’ resumes, providing the same advice to them as this recruiter provided to me, and yet not following it myself! Quite frankly, I was more than a bit embarrassed and certainly chagrined. The lesson for me and all of us in the job search arena is to not get hung up on pride or ownership with our resumes. Instead, let someone you trust, a professional or talented colleague, to look over your resume, read what you have to say, and tell you the truth.
Eating crow, while not fun, is a lot better than not getting a foot in the door for that job we want.
Written by Bettie Biehn, President and Founder of Career Change Central, LLC, an excellent source for customized, well-written and attractive resumes and cover letters. You can reach Bettie @ www.careerchangecentralllc.com.