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Career Coach: Don’t follow ‘10-year rule’ for resumes

Career coach Joyce E.A. Russell discussed resumes, jobs and work issues last week in an online chat. Here are some excerpts:

How far back to go on resume

Q:I’ve heard to only go back 10 years on a résumé. If so, applications usually ask for graduation dates, so doesn’t an employer wonder why someone graduated in 1990 and started their resume employment history in 2001? Also, if I had a far more demanding career further back, do I include that (I’m transitioning from being a part-time professional while kids were growing up to wanting full time work, and my current job just doesn’t have enough workload)

A: I don’t think you have to follow a 10-year rule for resumes. I think the length really depends on your particular situation. What is most important is to list professional work (responsibilities, roles, accomplishments and awards), education, etc. In your case, with more years of experience, I would make sure to start your resume with a short summary with several points about your key attributes or qualifications. I would definitely list that demanding career that you had in the past. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can on your resume to sell yourself!

Lack of enthusiasm for new job opportunity

Q:I’m looking to change jobs right now because I’ve been at my current company too long, and feel pretty burned out here. Lately I’ve interviewed at a new company, but feel kind of indifferent towards this opportunity. The main reason I would take it, if offered, is to make the change from my current company (the work would essentially be the same). So I guess my question is, is it worth taking a new job, even if I don’t feel as excited about it as I had hoped, just to get away from a job I hate?

A: What about the possibility of continuing to look for other jobs? It is always worth leaving a job you hate since it burns you out and takes an emotional toll on you. But, you need to ask yourself why you feel indifferent towards the new opportunity. Is it the work itself? The people? If it is the work, then maybe it is time to rethink or make some changes in what you are doing.

Work-Life Balance

Q:How should I deal with an employer who requires longer and longer working hours— with no end in sight?

My colleagues and I have been working 16-, often 18-hour days for months now, with at most one day off per week. We are all “exempt” and aren’t paid overtime. With commuting tacked on, this schedule doesn’t allow enough time for basic life necessities like sleep and exercise — let alone anything else.

Expressing concerns about the schedule (even from a physical health perspective) gets an employee labeled as lazy, selfish or not a team player, with a reminder that there are a lot of unemployed people out there who would be happy to have the job. Is there anything you would suggest in terms of trying to improve this situation?

A: I can sense your frustration with this grueling schedule. Interesting that many employers feel that working more and more hours are the way to get to enhanced productivity, yet this is not the case. People are not as productive if they are exhausted (physically and mentally). A great book for some at your organization to read is “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz or “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Schwartz, Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy. Maybe you can get a copy, read it and share it with others in your firm. It offers some great ideas that management should take to heart.

I also think this view that some employers have “you’re lucky to have a job” will come back to haunt them as the economy improves. People will be looking to leave firms, and this is an important time for employers to do what they can to retain talented people.

For your situation, I think you need to collect the data — keep records of hours worked on various projects as well as what number of people are working those hours. Then, if you can have a group of you go talk to the most sympathetic person in management, it might help your case to lower hours.

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