After 27 years with the same company, I have been laid off after a merger. The problem is I have a very short résumé, since I’ve been at this job most of my career! How should I handle this?
It used to be that people stayed at the same company long enough to get the gold watch at retirement. In our more mobile society, there has been a definite shift away from job longevity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers have been with their current employer an average of 4.6 years. (I think there are some leftovers in my freezer older than that!)
First, I’m going to assume that your latest position is not the same one you started with at your (former) company. Break out each job title and list chronologically with the most recent first. You have a résumé advantage that serial job-hoppers don’t. You can go into much more detail about each position and what you accomplished there to move you up to the next level. Give measurable examples whenever possible (e.g., promoted to Sales Manager after increasing personal sales 37%). It’s important for a potential employer to see that you have not been stagnant before being thrown back into the labor pool.
If you have attended seminars over the years or received on-the-job training and cross-training, list all the credits and certificates that you have accumulated. Speaking of skills, this may be another subhead for you to add to your résumé template. List all the computer programs in which you are proficient, as well other industry-specific processes and procedures with which you are familiar.
If, by chance, you have been in the same position since Day 1, you’ll have to employ a tactic I recommend to newly minted graduates, and include extracurricular and volunteer activities on your résumé (see my blog, Including Volunteer Work In Your Resume). In fact, if you are feeling your résumé is still a little thin, by all means mention that you organize the annual fund-raiser at your kids’ school or maintained the bookkeeping records for your local animal charity.
Take the opportunity to brag about your tenure in your previous position in your cover letter. Instead of apologizing for a lack of résumé bullet points under “Experience,” celebrate your longevity! Emphasize your loyalty, your stability, and your reliability. I am confident that the sum total of these character virtues is still sought after in the job marketplace.
Readers: How have you addressed working for only a few companies in your résumé and your job search?
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