Q. If a resume should be brief, how can I present myself to a prospective employer as someone who is employable? I have previous employers who have merged with out of state companies, or gone out of business. They cannot be contacted for references, so what do I put on my resume?
A. Resumes have evolved to help job seekers tell their story, as so many stories have become much more complicated. More data is acceptable to be included in a resume. Hiring managers welcome answers to the questions resumes can create regarding a candidate – the same kind of questions that can tank a candidate during the initial screening process.
With mergers and acquisitions, employees may have worked for multiple employers without changing their job, office or desk chair. You may have been laid off from your last 2 or 3 employers, and have gaps in employment. How you represent your value, contributions, and potential on a resume is based on the difference between telling the story of your skills, and documenting time.
The description of each job can include a brief statement on the company at the beginning of the entry. Make sure you represent your entire time at this company, not just job by job time. One big mistake candidates make is to showcase dates for each job which make people look like job hoppers when the story could be told in a much more positive way. Highlight longevity, promotion, and increased responsibility. The content of the job must include quantifiable information on results achieved while in the role. Show as many positive accomplishments as possible. At the end of the job description, add why you are no longer there. “Company acquired by NewCo; Reduction in Force of 20%” or “plant closed”.
Follow the same process for your other jobs. You aren’t trying to make excuses for being in the job search. Your goal is to make sure employers recognize that in job loss, lightning can strike twice, and if they can get past that, in the resume review, you get that much closer to an interview.
Your references wont’ be added to your resume, but they can travel with that document. References don’t all have to be bosses that are hard to track down, but find former supervisors who can speak to the work you did, and your value as an employee. Use LinkedIn as a resource to reconnect to these people so they can help your job search. Prepare a second page which matches your resume on top – all your contact information and “References of”. List the people you plan to use most often. Get the information before you need it – including cell phone and email address. You can ask your references to address the reason you left and speak to the reasons you would be a risk free hire.
So answer the questions up front. Show your ability to contribute. Provide results of what you did on the job, with back up from supervisors or colleagues that you added value to the organization. And show that losing a job doesn’t mean you won’t be a superstar when given the opportunity.