Why Job Shifts Look Good on a Resume These Days

July 21, 2010 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Among the pieces of outdated career advice being tossed in the trash these days is the notion that staying in one place for a long time is something to be valued in a job candidate. While it isn’t exactly a detriment, a long stretch in one place — especially if the job hasn’t evolved much and the employee hasn’t been promoted — makes hiring managers wonder just how ambitious and forward-looking a professional might be.

What employers want to see these days is adaptability, openness to change, flexibility and a proven track record (of course), and they’ll be looking for signs of that on your resume, in a cover letter and during the interview process. So the good news is that if you’ve changed jobs a lot and especially if you’ve been willing and able to take on a variety of different tasks, that can help you in the changing hiring environment. What if you haven’t? In that case, you’ll need to craft a resume, and talking points in an interview, to prove that you can adapt and change.

Here are some ways to show, especially on your resume, that you’re adaptable:

*Highlight various job duties, not just the jobs you’ve held. A mid-career or senior professional who has had a long tenure in just one or two organizations, for example, will want to note projects they’ve worked on and led, awards and honors they’ve won, and how their job duties have shifted in a changing environment. For journalists, indicating an evolution to online and digital journalism will be important, especially if your career has been centered at newspapers. Even if you have changed jobs a fair amount, these days it’s key to provide narrative descriptions of  just what you’ve done at various organizations, rather than merely listing a title and a job description.

*Keep lists of positions succinct and active, both on your resume and in descriptions during interviews. On a resume, if you’ve had a long tenure and clump together a bunch of job duties, it may appear to the hiring manager that you are a creature of that particular workplace and may not adapt well to a new one. Better to — through “bullet items” — showcase different parts of your job (and do not detail the dates of each, just list overall dates for your service in the organization and put that off to the side) and indicate just how you handled them. The same is true in an interview: you don’t want to ramble on about any particular position but want to show how you’ve developed skills and expertise, and how these pieces fit together in the whole that has become your career path.

*Focus on accomplishments. This is important not only for those who have been with just an organization or two — especially in a competitive hiring environment, hiring managers will want to hear about outcomes. Giving a description of the job indicates what the organization wanted you to do, indicating accomplishments shows how you were successful, and allows you to move seamlessly from those outcomes to how you would be successful in the job you’re seeking. It’s also positive and forward-looking rather than backward-looking to what you had done.

*Arm your references. As always, references can be a big help in highlighting parts of your career that you want to emphasize. If you’re worried that you haven’t had varied enough experience, make sure to discuss this with your references before they get a call about you, and brainstorm some ways for them to indicate your ability to adapt. For instance, provide them with information about some innovative projects you’ve led — even if it was in a job you’ve held for years — to show that you’ve changed along with the industry, even if your work address has remained the same.

*It really is not what you know but who you know — especially if you’re related to them! From the New York Times (via Politico.com) a fun read, though it works against the hopes of a hiring meritocracy, about those with famous last names getting good internships:

Being a Russert or a Tisch didn’t hurt getting that internship with Michael Bloomberg’s office.

*Here are some fresh job leads today:

*The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an opening in D.C. for a communications marketing specialist:
Communications Specialist
Federal Aviation Administration – Washington, DC
the Communications’ marketing specialist/ accounts representative within the Office of ATO Communications… communications strategy for ATO Communications… $91,426 – $141,735 a year
From Federal Aviation Administration

*Deloitte Consulting in Arlington has an opening for a communications senior consultant:

Communications/Process Development Senior Consultant
Deloitte – Arlington, VA
initiatives, and get the support, coaching, and training it takes to advance your career. Our commitment… mail to a Friend Communications/Process Development…
From Deloitte

*For those with digitial development expertise, this could be a good opportunity –BAE Systems in Arlington is looking for a director of digital communications:

Director – Digital Communications
Bae Systems – Arlington, VA
Director, Digital Communications is responsible for… communications solutions to BAE Systems that are based on overall internal and external communications…
From BAE Systems

*The World Bank in D.C., where some former journalists have happily landed, has an opening for an information officer:

Information Officer, Client Technologies – Regional Web Mgmnt
The World Bank – Washington, DC
or Bachelor’s degree in Communications, International… web services, including writing and/or editing for the web. • Proven writing and editing skills, with a…
From The World Bank

*Google’s D.C. office has an opening for an administrative assistant to the Public Policy, Communications and Government Relations team — this could be a good opening for a recent graduate hoping to gain some Washington experience:

Administrative Assistant, Public Policy, Communications and Government Relations – Washington, D.C.

*And with a hat tip to mediabistro.com (for these next two leads), Parks & Recreation magazine, the publication of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in Ashburn, Va., has an opening for a managing editor:

Parks & Recreation magazine is hiring a managing editor. (Ashburn, VA)

*And to wrap up today’s leads, SAIC in McLean is looking for a media relations specialist:

SAIC wants a media relations specialist. (McLean, VA)

Happy hunting!

Jodi

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Who Is Getting Jobs Quickly When to Take a Chance

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