Professional Experience - Can You Say Too Much?
Your professional experience is the core data on your résumé. It’s what everyone wants to know: what have you done, for whom, when and for how long. Oh and tell us this in 2 pages or less, please. It’s a somewhat daunting task.
To get started, list all of your previous experience, in chronological order, starting with your latest job on a piece of paper. List the dates of employment, your job title, the full company name and the location of your employment.
These days it is quite common for people to change jobs frequently and not build a career with one company or organization. Thus, it is common for someone with ten years of professional experience to have had three or more jobs. Which is fine, and easy enough to fit on a résumé. But consider someone with over 30 years of experience. It is important to set limits on what you include and what you can freely exclude from your résumé under your professional experience. Ideally, your résumé should not exceed two pages. Depending on the type of jobs you have held and your responsibilities, having only two pages doesn’t account for a lot of space. So how does one fit 30 years and 7 or more jobs in two pages? Some chose to list only the last three or five jobs they held, which may be sufficient to display their experience. But also, consider the time you spent at each organization you have worked for – list up to the last ten to fifteen years of experience.
Remember it is not necessary to list every job you’ve ever had to showcase your qualifications and years of experience. If you have a long professional career, focus on the last three to five jobs, but use the profile or summary at the beginning of the résumé to highlight the number of years you have spent working, or the number of years you have spent in a certain industry, acquiring specific skills. Always, when listing your experiences, be sure to do so in chronological order without skipping any of the jobs you have held. While you may feel that certain jobs are not particularly complimenting to your current career objective you should not avoid listing them on your résumé. You may choose to minimize the amount of detail provided, and highlight the responsibilities and accomplishments that are transferable to your new objective.
Leaving any unexplained gaps in your work history will raise questions by your potential employer – don’t create those gaps on your résumé by listing your experience out of order or by skipping jobs you have had. If you do have gaps, or must leave something out, consider a functional or skills based résumé to camouflage this issue.
Finally, make sure that your cover letter accounts for any additional qualifications you would like to bring to the attention of your potential employer that you didn’t include on the résumé. Your résumé should be concise, well written, and sell you as the best candidate for the job. Just remember that it is quality over quantity that counts.