Wednesday, January 24, 2007

21 Jobs in Less Than 25 Years

I don't know what to do in creating a resume. I have had 21 jobs, and I am 25 years old.

I haven't worked all of 2006. I am married and have a 3-year-old and an adopted 15-year-old. I really need to go back to work to help out financially and also to get out of the house. I feel like these are serious times and I need a job to support my kids. I guess you would say I'm more serious about work than I ever have been.

Most of my jobs lasted anywhere between two days and three years. I don't really know how to put that on a resume. I’m also stuck because before I had my kids I usually held down two jobs at once. That is why some jobs were so short. If I didn't like a job I just quit because I knew I had the second one to fall back on.

If you or anyone has suggestions please let me know what to do. Thank you!

Answer by Nancy Rosenberg, MBA, Med, professional resume writer

The first thing I suggest is taking a careful look at your employment history as it is extensive for someone who is relatively young in the scheme of things. You can do this by making a list of all your jobs to get a visual sense of “what” you have done “where,” and “when” you did it. Here’s how:

List each job on one line of a piece of paper and include your job title, whether full-time or part-time, employer’s name, and dates/years. List them starting with the most recent first, working backward. Don’t worry about time overlaps as you obviously have quite a few from working multiple jobs at the same time.

For a start, I suggest using a chronological-style resume format with some creative twists that I will explain further.

Now look at the list of jobs you just made and determine which jobs will look best on your resume. Maybe the jobs you were at the longest or worked at full-time will look better and therefore are the ones you would like to showcase on your resume. Put these jobs on your chronological resume, remembering to add accomplishments as well as responsibilities.

Next tackle the rest of the jobs on your list. Assuming you have a large number of less relevant jobs listed, possibly short-term or part-time ones, consider combining some or many of these into a few “types” of jobs for your resume and creating one job item for your resume for each one of these types. This will require grouping jobs, as shown in the following examples.

For jobs of a similar title/function, group them something like this:

Sales Clerk – 2001 to 2004 [Note: Dates are inclusive of all jobs.]
Retail Employers (JC Penney, Borders, Barnes & Noble), Tampa, FL & Lutz, FL
- Sold variety of merchandise including high-ticket and specialty items to customers.
- Patiently and effectively helped customers locate, select, and buy merchandise.
- Given increased responsibilities as a fill-in Cashier when Borders was short-staffed.
- Etc. [Notice how the employer, Borders, was singled out and positively described.]

Or, for unrelated jobs, you may use “part-time” work as another way to group jobs:

Part-Time Positions (Cashier, Sales Clerk, Food Server) – 1999 to 2006
Retail Stores (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s), Tampa, FL
- Productive in handling variety of job functions including cashier (purchases, refunds, and exchanges), customer service, sales, inventory, and food preparation.
- Performed accurate and fast cashiering for Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.
- Etc.

As the examples show, try to list/refer to companies by names within the descriptive bullets. This makes the jobs appear more concrete and gives an employer some idea of what jobs you did for which companies. Bulleted items should be prioritized so the most relevant is first.

Here’s another nice feature about combining jobs: If you worked more than one time for an employer, you may be able to list the employer only once in your resume, followed by an accomplishment statement that references your repeated success. For example:

- Asked by Barnes & Noble’s management to return multiple times to serve as Cashier/Sales Clerk during busy Christmas seasons in 2000, 2001, and 2002. [See above example of how Barnes & Noble is listed only once as a job item.]

Two more points to keep in mind:

1) List employment dates without including months. For example, if you were at a job from March to August 2003, simply list “2003.” If the job lasted from October 2001 to March 2002, list “2001 to 2002.” This is perfectly acceptable and will make it easier for an employer to grasp the information quickly.

2) A job worked only a few days is usually not included in a resume.

Note from Susan Ireland
How To Handle Short-term Jobs on Your Resume by Scott Brown is an excellent guide for this situation.

Job Loungers, do you have a question? Email it to me and I’ll post your question and my answer here in The Job Lounge.

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