How could a lengthy career be anything but good? After all, a long work history proves stamina, adaptability, and in-demand skill.
But does your history read that way on paper? Will it even fit into a resume at all?
The client that gave me the above feedback faced the same issue. The senior level nurse was applying for a top-level managerial position that needed someone with a history of teaching, team management, northern community health experience, and nursing.
This client had over 35 years working in communities throughout Canada. So much so that the work experience section of her original resume was three pages long, listing interesting and impressive positions in both hospitals and colleges.
What’s more, she’d taken a couple years away from nursing to practice in an industry inapplicable to the desired position.
In this case, the client couldn’t list her positions in reverse chronological order as the document would be too long. Also, she wished to list the most important positions at the top of her file for the employer to see first thing – but how could she do that if her most recent work would be something to overlook? And, if she were to omit work, how would she account for the gaps in her employment history?
The answer is to throw reverse chronological tradition out the window. It’s important to keep your work history to one page, and for your strongest experiences to be listed first thing, so divide your resume into sections. Title the section Relevant Work History (note that the key word relevant excuses any gaps in employment), and add subsections – in this case: Instructional Experience, Nursing Experience, and Program Coordination Experience. Decide what experience the employer is most interested in (in this case, program coordination) and display that section at the top of the list.
Then, look at your past experiences and divide them into each section. Keep the most meaningful positions. Ideally, we want the listed positions to be as recent as possible and to be relevant to the desired position. Aim to keep this section to a maximum of one page.
Extra tips for extra-long work histories:
- cut everything older than 12 years (unless its VITALLY important)
- Combine a position. For example, if you were a registered nurse at five hospitals over five years, you could write the experiences as “Registered Nurse, 2010 – 2015” and list the multiple hospitals worked at within the position to avoid listing the same position five times
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