On a fundamental level, the goal is to construct your work history into a cohesive narrative. It’s very easy to be too abrupt, or too in-depth with certain parts of your resume once you get talking about it all. If you think about your own work history in terms of a story you are telling, you’ll be able to more effectively get your message across to your audience, typically a recruiter.
Try to establish what was a first critical step in your professional life, and work from there until now. Pick out some key markers along the way that represent your growth/achievements, and use those as points to ensure you stick to your story as you tell it. Not all professional growth is necessarily tied to a job, but as long as you can tie it into your narrative, you should include it. Showing that you have a good idea of where you’ve been and where you want to go can help convince a recruiter that you should take your next career step with them.
Once you’ve established your general professional narrative, scripting it out is the next step. While this can be time consuming, it gives you the chance to establish how long you spend talking about each part of your work history, and start thinking about how you might engage a recruiter while you talk about yourself. Typically, people can only hold their attention for a couple of minutes without direct interaction. So if your narrative is going to take more time to share, consider incorporating a question for the recruiter, or a part of your story that you can relate to the recruiter’s experience to keep them engaged. This is where researching the recruiter can come in handy.
On the note of research, scripting can also allow you to pick and choose different parts of your professional story that better relate to certain roles. This could be including personal projects or interests that relate to a specific company’s vision, accentuating certain prior roles that align more closely with the one you’re applying for, or basically anything that makes it seem like your history sets you up for success with a particular company. You can think of your script as more of a toolbox that you can pick from to make yourself sound best suited to each role you apply for.
Accounting for Gaps
Having any kind of gap between prior roles, or since your last role, can feel awkward to talk about. There is no single right answer, but you generally want to show how that time was accounted for, and build it into your narrative. To weave it into your story, you simply have to show how you were intentional with your gap time.
Perhaps you purposefully took a few months off before looking for a new role to address burnout. Maybe this job search has taken a few months because you’re not looking to jump into the next available role, you’re looking for somewhere you can see yourself working long term. You may have been working on personal projects or building out other skill sets, or taking time to deal with a personal/family matter. Whatever reason you might have, you should decide how you want to share it in your story, but be sure to share it. In the absence of you telling your history, a recruiter is likely to make their own guesses about how you spent your time. That’s not always going to be a bad thing, but it’s better that you try to inform a recruiter’s perception of you first.
If you have additional questions, please contact Candidate Support.