Dear Sam: My husband is retiring from the military after more than 20 years of service. He has never written a resume, and we were wondering if he should include his years of experience within the resume. If he were to put more than 20 years of experience in aviation, would an employer think he was old and not consider him for a position? - Debbie
Dear Sam: My husband is retiring from the military after more than 20 years of service. He has never written a resume, and we were wondering if he should include his years of experience within the resume. If he were to put more than 20 years of experience in aviation, would an employer think he was old and not consider him for a position? — Debbie
Dear Debbie: Great question. First, if he were to omit all dates from his resume, then assumptions would be far worse than reality. The key is to decide how much of his 20-year career to include. If he is pursuing more senior-level roles, then presenting 20 years is appropriate.
However, if he is pursuing midlevel roles, then dating positions held over the past 10 to 15 years would be more prudent. To do this without being misleading, date titles instead of tenure with the military. For instance, if he held four positions over the course of his career, perhaps only include the last two or three to present only about 10 to 15 years of his career.
You can always byline the earlier roles with a brief italicized statement at the end of his Professional Experience section. This statement would simply state, “Additional experience with the military in foundational leadership roles” or something related to what enhances his candidacy. The key to this byline is leaving it undated to avoid unnecessarily aging his candidacy.
I imagine, based on a 20-year track record of success in the aviation field, he is somewhat of a subject-matter expert (SME). When you are in this position, you are able to present more of your career to back up your subject mastery.
Focus less on how many years to present and more on differentiating his candidacy through the uniqueness of his experiences, education and key contributions. I am confident that if he does this his job search will be a success.
Dear Sam: My son will be completing graduate school in May. He sent me his resume to review as he wants to begin his job search soon. His desire is to find a full-time position as a strength and conditioning coach, ideally with a college or professional team.
You can see from his resume that he has interned for some great companies, and that he is currently a graduate assistant at his university. I would like to know whether his resume represents him and his experiences in the strongest way possible to get the attention he will need to attract a full-time position in this field. — R.
Dear R.: I think your son is exceptionally well qualified to enter his choice field. I am not sure if I have ever seen anyone having completed five internships and three professional experiences prior to graduation. He is very qualified for his target jobs.
Providing a summary of his experiences could make a difference on his resume. Reading through his eight positions is somewhat cumbersome, and I found myself getting lost in the sea of words that didn’t really capture my attention. A summary would better convey the cumulative value of his experiences. Other ways he could better engage the reader would be to add some color, perhaps using logos of the companies where he has worked, and utilizing excerpts from any of his letters of recommendation. I think his resume needs to come alive given his field, show a little more personality, and really demonstrate the value in the depth and breadth of the experience he has gained.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).