When the job experience counts

BY: Mahmud Afimfiwe

Work experience refers generally to the number of months and years (if applicable) that is credited to us since we started working. It does matter whether such amount of time has breaks or is seamless.

Where there are breaks in the flow of the time herein referred to as total work experience, the candidate should endeavor to filter such idle times out of the stream so that the reviewer does not have to do this for the jobseeker. But where the entire length of time of experience flows without a break, the employer’s screening job is reduced.


 Relevant work experience

It will be a grave error to discuss this subject without reserving enough space for the all-important sub-theme of relevant work experience. Because, as it often turns out, even the most naïve hiring manager has to show interest in this when recruiting. Relevant job experience will be the amount out of the total experience that relates directly to the minimum skills necessary to effectively and productively carry out the functions of the vacant position.

For a lot of jobseekers, the headache has often been how to distinctly separate the entire bulk of experience from the so-called relevant ones. But this needs not be too challenging because most vacancy announcements are incomplete without a list of the key competencies clearly outlined in the same advertisement. Even where the title of the position is generic and so easily predisposes candidates to knowing the key competence areas, nearly every advertisements, no matter how much little space the advertiser purchased, will still have this list.

Consult this list when re-writing your new resume that you intend for the vacant position. By carrying out the alignment of the key competencies of the announcement with those of your vast experiences that have a bearing on the position, you prime your resume for easy identification. Because, as you may find out later, the difference between the losing and the preferred candidates may simply be in the form and subsequent easy readability of the documents the successful candidates tendered in.

When the officer screening as many resumes as have flooded the office since the announcement went online, unless you “groom” your resume such that it lends itself to easy understanding to the person reviewing it, chances are that it will soon be dispatched to the bin. Part of getting that grooming right is to schedule your experiences such that they easily stand out and meet the eyes of the screening officer. 

However if your stock of experiences that is relevant to the vacancy is such that they are spread in the entire length of the experiences but not particularly concentrated in one of the positions you have held ever, put a distinctive feature on the relevant ones. Either highlight them gently in the portion of the employment history or simply capture this in a friendly font distinct from all the other narrations.

 Make do with a covering letter

But if doing the above is also impossible due to the peculiarity of your case, adopt this innovation: accompany your CV with a cover letter even if the announcement did not ask for it. Craft an irresistibly catchy covering letter in which you showcase your experiences and draw the finer lines between such stock of experiences and the skills required by the new position. No matter what you wish to say and how important that business may be, do not let this cover letter exceed a page.

After this, place the printed covering letter on top of the resume such that whoever is screening the documents will see and may be attracted by it. If you are sending the document electronically, do same if your CV’s total length does not go beyond the third page. If it does, title both attachments as resume 1 and resume 2.

Managing gaps in a candidate’s work history

Some resumes, without the deliberate choice of the bearer, tend to have gaps in the time frame as presented in the job history. These gaps may represent job losses through retrenchments, leaves for studies, personal resignations and in worse cases, dismissal for wrong doing. Successfully managing these gaps is central to submitting a winning resume.

The most useful gaps are the ones that are occasioned by the subject choosing to leave for full-time further studies or resigning on one’s own accord. Even in the case of the latter, very importantly embarrassing questions may pop up in the mind of a smart HR. As is sometimes the case, employees resign when they are threatened by a distantly looming disaster that may take them home or in worse cases, jail. And this suspicion is rifer when one resigns a position without having the ticket to the next job in the other hand.  

When the blanks in the work history portion of the resume is occasioned by a strategic downsizing following from either a loss of market share or technological innovation, this may put too much on the plate of the jobseeker. Either way, the CV reviewer may easily assume that if you were priceless to the institution, it most likely would not have sent you packing home.

But if you were dismissed for wrong doing, you will have a hell of time slipping through at a job interview.

The CV with the most value is one that catalogues functions/roles and achievements side by side. For senior positions, it is especially recommended to list achievements when the position you are seeking is generic with clearly defined roles that do not change no matter the industry. In situations such as these, achievements tend to sell the bearer more and should be the option to consider. — GB