Job Doc

Resume format can head off questions

Q. I have been in my current position for the past year and a half, and I want to look for a new job. While I was attending school, I held two positions over the last eight months of 2011. This has created a lot of questions from both hiring managers and recruiters. What’s the best way to address these short stints on a resume?

A. Most hiring mangers and recruiters don’t like unexplained time gaps on resumes or what they see as too many job changes for no logical reasons. Make sure your resume shows you at your best and highlights all of your positive work experience; minimize potential obstacles through the use of effective formatting and data that are most often not suggested in resume writing books.

Start your resume with a “Summary” section instead of an objective statement. Include a description of the experience you bring to the target roles you are looking for, followed by strong attributes you bring: communication, leadership, presentation skills, etc. The next section should highlight your education.


Your current role should look great on your resume. You will have the start date, which hopefully is the same month, or month following your completion of business school. The date will end with (through present), which will show as moving toward two years; another good sign. On the line below the company name or at the end of the job description; explain, “ABC company sold business unit to XYZ company,” with the date. Most hiring managers look at major corporate changes and understand that employees may want to make career shifts.

Often, people attending school take jobs they are not as committed to as they would be in a full-time situation. You may format your resume with a “Professional Experience” section, which would include the job you are in now, and list jobs you had while you were in school. Managers and recruiters have seen these kinds of job changes and are more accepting of these decisions prior to what they see as the beginning of your real career.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston, and serves on the board of Career Partners International.