How Your Work History Affects Your Job Hunt in the New Age of Work
Some say the resume is dying.
I say it’s not. For most jobs, you still have to present an impressive resume and cover letter to land an interview.
But the resume – and other details of the job hunt – certainly are changing. Resumes are morphing into a combination of digital identity and the traditional summary of work experience and skills. And perhaps what has changed the most is how your work history affects your job hunt.
No more climbing the corporate ladder
Traditionally, the quality career path has been defined by a history of increasingly important jobs that have led to a management role, in or around one industry.
Yet the job market that has spun off from the new economy has changed the definition of a successful career. It’s now common for young professionals to change jobs frequently, and not always because the new job offers a clear advance in the ranks. Millennials change jobs because they are recruited by a fascinating startup or have sought out a new company that has perceived potential.
The transition might even include a drop in salary, which traditionally has been treated as a black mark on your resume. No longer! Now hiring managers know that reduced salary is likely a calculated bet on the new employer or the experience and learning opportunities that the company is expected to provide.
Career track rerouted
Years ago, a work history with one employer was the gold standard for a potential new hire. Today, a work history that lays out what in your eyes was progress is a substitute for the one-stop career.
That means if you have moved from working as an affiliate rep, through two or three companies to become a marketing manager, that history can easily be defined as professional growth. And if your last employer folded, that’s not necessarily a black mark either given the history of startups over the last twenty years.
It’s all about energy
If you can sketch a work history that illustrates proactive, energetic, aggressive steps, then you’ve reached what for many employers is the tipping point. Any HR professional will tell you that they’re looking for an innovative, dynamic person to fill the empty slot, that a mere functionary won’t do.
Whether those credentials will bear up once you’re installed in your shiny new job is another matter, but the point is that you got there by showing a pattern of personal initiative, seeking opportunities with multiple firms. That oh-so-important selling point, however, requires a resume and cover letter to accompany your LinkedIn profile.
Revisiting the one-page resume rule
Defining a series of jobs and explaining the purpose for moving on takes more than a few disconnected phrases, which is about all you can fit on a one-page resume. Let’s assume for a minute that the one-page rule is applied to an online resume; that page is going to be as long as you want it to be, correct? Then it’s just a matter of writing concise sentences that provide a thorough explanation of your travelogue.
There’s no reason you can’t treat a paper resume the same way. Your goal is to get in the door for an interview, and an additional page isn’t going to cost you that opportunity. Instead, it could help you provide a more well-defined perspective on your professional history.
Bob Hartzell writes about education, business and budgets, as well as changes in collegiate goals, with focus on the new bachelors and online masters degrees. He lives in Maine, a beautiful part of New England – but you’d best bring your job with you.
Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.