How To Make Your Winding Career Path Look Good To Employers
I’ve always adapted my work to my life instead of the other way around. As a lifelong learner with an insatiable desire to experience new things, my interest in many different areas has always guided me from job to job.
First and foremost, I’m a mom, but I’ve also worked as a retail buyer, travel agent, sales representative, tutor, cashier, bank teller, babysitter, teacher, nonprofit agency leader and entrepreneur.
My diverse job history has worked for me throughout my career, but job-hoppin
goften gets a bad rap. But the truth is, if you know how to market yourself to prospective employers and show how you’ve grown from each experience, it can give you a serious edge in a job search.
The Perks of Being Well-Rounded
A diverse resume doesn’t have to convey flakiness or a lack of focus. In fact, I’ve found that my varied work history has provided several benefits. For one, many employers are looking for people who can adapt to a variety of situations. In an ever-changing business landscape, your job duties may be revised or upended completely to help the company meet new demands, and if you’ve done it before, you’ll have a leg up.
Diverse experience also sets you apart in terms of flexibility. Due to the range of problems I’ve had to solve throughout my career, I’m not intimidated by uncertainty. This allows me to take on new challenges without experiencing self-doubt just because something is out of my wheelhouse. I also believe I’m a better manager, mother, and entrepreneur because I have so much experience under my belt. Working diverse positions has helped me relate to many different types of people and learn about different work styles and motivators, which has made me a much better leader.
Finally, I think that having experience in many different fields automatically opens doors. For example, my experience equipped me to start my own company and nonprofit—two things I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pursue without a wide range of jobs spanning different industries.
Make Your Experience Work to Your Advantage
So, now you’re sold that your winding career path is a good thing—but how do you translate all of this into your job search? Whether you’ve changed jobs out of curiosity, boredom, or necessity, diverse experiences can work in your favor if you tailor your resume and interview skills to cast your experience in the best light possible. Here’s how.
Do: Tailor Your Resume to Your Desired Job
You’ve heard that you should adjust your resume for each specific position you’re applying for, and this is never more true than when you’ve had many diverse experiences. Start by highlighting the experiences that make you an excellent candidate for the position (for example, I list my jobs in terms of relevant experience rather than in chronological order). Then, focus on achievements that show you’re results-driven. No matter what job you’re applying to, someone who gets things done will always be exciting to a hiring manager.
[Related: Dramatic Career Change, Minus the Drama]
Don’t: Include Irrelevant Experience
The benefit of having lots of previous jobs is the ability to leave off things that don’t fit your potential employer’s needs. Leave out any jobs or experiences that are completely unrelated to the job you’re applying for (or put them in a separate section underneath your relevant experience, titled “Other Work Experience”).
Do: Emphasize Your Strengths
Your jobs may be across the board, but your personal characteristics are the underlying thread that helped you succeed in all those roles. Highlight the qualities that allowed you to thrive in different environments—whether that’s your epic ability to manage projects or your killer communication skills. Those are your strongest assets and what you’ll surely bring to any role.
Don’t: Oversell Yourself
While you should be confident about your experience, do tread lightly. Too much confidence can make employers think you’ll be too much to handle. You should also avoid comparing yourself to other candidates with more or different experiences—focus on what you bring to the job rather than how you compare to others.
Do: Show Why it Matters to Them
The best way to discuss a diverse resume with a potential employer is to specifically address how your experiences will benefit the company. Focus on specific goals and projects you’ve accomplished, what each experience taught you, and how you can apply those lessons to your new position.
[Related: The Career Risk You Don't Know You're Taking]
Don’t: Spend a Lot of Time Discussing One Position
You should, however, avoid discussing a certain job or experience for too long. With a winding career path, one of the strongest assets you bring to an employer’s table is that you’re well-rounded. So, write and speak as though you are! Your conversation should be consistent with your resume.
Certain bosses prefer an employee who has held a single position in a relevant field for an extended time. But most employers commend someone who works hard and thrives in any situation—especially if you’re willing to risk the traditional stigmas of job-hopping to accomplish something significant. Ultimately, if you’re confident in yourself and your qualifications, others will be, too.
This Article was originally posted on The Muse.
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