When writing your resume, you may find yourself facing several tricky situations that you’re not quite sure how to handle.
Maybe some of these common resume problems are familiar to you?
- I’ve had several jobs in a relatively short amount of time
- I’ve recently accepted a role that’s below my level
- I’m overqualified for the role I’m applying for
- There are several gaps in my employment history
- I can’t seem to consolidate my diverse experience on my resume
If you’re struggling with any of these resume problems, you’re not alone. As experienced resume writers, we’ve been helping our clients address these issues almost on a daily basis. These are all pretty common and are quite easy to solve if you follow our helpful advice below.
I’ve had several jobs in a relatively short amount of time
Some fields are prone to short periods of employment. For example, those in contract roles in construction, IT or Government sectors.
But what if you’re just simply job-hopping? This means that you have to work extra hard as compared to other candidates who have stayed at the same employer for many years.
To address job-hopping on your resume, you can combine two or similar positions under one heading. Below it, list down your combined responsibilities and achievements in bullet points. Example below:
Customer Service Officer, January 2020 – December 2020
Employers: Australia Post, Service NSW
I’ve recently accepted a role that’s below my level
With the current job landscape, those who had been laid off may have accepted positions that are below their job level.
If this is your current situation, you may have to think about how to present this ‘demotion’ on your resume without raising red flags.
Don’t think about removing your current position on your resume even if it’s at a much lower level than the kinds of roles you’re seeking. If you intentionally removed your current job, the person reading your resume might think that you’ve been unemployed, which could raise a bigger question.
If it’s a case of a voluntary downgrade due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can just provide a brief explanation on your resume why you accepted a lower position. The full explanation should then be discussed in your cover letter.
I’m overqualified for the role I’m applying for
Have you recently found yourself in a situation where you’re overqualified for the roles you’re targeting?
From an employer’s perspective, they may worry that you might move on quickly once there’s a better opportunity.
If this is your situation, try dumbing down your resume. Dumbing down means creating a ‘lesser’ version of you and not a dishonest version. This means downplaying your achievements, experience and skills. For example, if the position is not a supervisory one and you’ve been a manager in the past, tone down words like ‘Oversee, Manage.’ Use ‘Assist, Support’ instead.
Avoid modifying job titles as this could devalue all the experiences you’ve earned so far. However, you can always include the equivalent job title in parentheses. For example, if you’re currently a General Manager at a small, family-owned business and you’re trying to apply for a Business Officer role at a larger company, you can write:
General Manager (Equivalent to Business Officer)
There are several gaps in my employment history
If you have several employment gaps of four months or longer, the best way to address these is by using a different resume format.
Functional resume groups together similar activities under headings (for example: Administrative Skills, Project Coordination, Sales and Customer Service). Under each skill area, think of examples in your career to illustrate this.
What were the projects that you coordinated throughout your career? How did your sales and customer service skills contribute to the attainment of targets in your former roles?
This approach will prevent your career chronology from being noticed immediately. Your employment history is then listed on the last page of your resume.
Another way is to include a ‘Career Highlights’ section, ideally on the first page of your resume. This is where you can enumerate your key accomplishments regardless of when or where they occurred.
If you’ve had a huge chunk of time off, don’t try to hide it on your resume. For example, if you’re a return-to-work mum or have been caring for an ill family member. List the skills you’ve acquired while out of the workforce, including any professional development or volunteer roles. For full-time mums, you can also mention how you’ve used your organisational, time management and financial skills to take care of your family.
I can’t consolidate my diverse experience on my resume
Do you have experiences in retail, accounting, healthcare and administration? This can make it difficult for you to have a specific focus on your resume. If you include all your experiences, even those that are not relevant, your resume might turn into a hot mess of completely random skills.
As mentioned, you can try converting your chronological resume into a functional resume. This will emphasise your skills by grouping together similar bullet points under the same headings.
Go beyond the position titles and think about what you’ve consistently done well throughout your career. By reflecting on your career, you can probably find patterns of accomplishments or skills that are more dominant.
To address these common resume problems, the most important thing to remember is not to lie on your resume. You can always change the focus, explore a different resume format and think carefully what you can include or exclude.
Following these simple tips could help you end up with a compelling resume that attracts the attention of employers for all the right reasons.
Alternatively, seek the help of a professional resume writer to do the heavy lifting for you.
Once you’ve followed these tips, be sure to:
- Follow the Latest Resume Tips this 2021
- Ensure your resume ticks all items in our Australian Resume Checklist
- Looking for a DIY, free resume template, download here now.