Resumes and Cover Letters

Connecting the Dots on Your Resume: How to Transform a Seemingly Scattered Job History into a Clear and Targeted Career Story

“At first glance, my career looks scattered!” Sound familiar?

For those of us (present company included) who have held roles that at the surface seem unrelated, have worked across industries, or whose job titles are misleading or confusing, writing a cohesive resume and LinkedIn profile can be daunting.

Fortunately, with some strategies to connect the dots, you can rest assured that readers of your resume and LinkedIn will not be left wondering or confused.

When Roles Seem Unrelated

Whether to explore a new opportunity or because circumstances dictated it, many of us have career stories that feel disjointed. Personally speaking, earlier in my career I pivoted from being a social worker for hospice patients into a corporate communications role with a financial services company.

At first glance, the roles appear utterly unrelated. By looking a bit deeper, however, common themes emerged.

  • As a social worker, in addition to managing a patient load, I wrote the company newsletter and the employee training guide. I also worked with people spanning all walks of life.
  • As a communications manager, I oversaw staff representing all walks of life that wrote newsletters, crafted scripts, etc. (p.s., I wrote resumes in my spare time along the way!).

Today, my resume and LinkedIn highlight both my writing and diverse people collaboration skills. This deep dive allowed me to uncover commonality between the jobs and show my next hiring manager that my experiences were in fact similar.

Bottom Line: Connect the dots by digging deep to uncover skills you used to succeed in disparate roles.


Also read: Executive Challenge: I’m Good at What I do – but Struggle to Say it on Paper


When Job Titles Seem Unrelated

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the truth is that impressions are sometimes made by reviewing a list of career titles. The problem with this is that titles differ from company to company – and sometimes don’t immediately explain what you do!

My advice? Tweak the title for clarity. Here’s an example: I recently worked with a senior loan officer at a bank who wanted to transition to sales. His role was essentially a sales job – but the title did not reflect it. Here’s what I did to accurately describe the role without completely making up a new title.

  • Original Job Title: Senior Loan Officer
  • Revised Job Title: Senior Sales/Loan Officer OR Senior Loan (Sales) Officer

Bottom Line: Connect the dots by providing clarity with ambiguous job titles.


Also read:Long vs. Short Resume: Which Works Better When Making a Career Pivot?


When Industries Seem Unrelated

Some worry a history of industry jumping will be misinterpreted as a lack of industry expertise. My recommendation? Mitigate this concern by turning it into an advantage!

Include language in your summary/branding paragraph at the top stating that your skills have been successful across diverse industries.

You can even increase your resume and LinkedIn keyword count – and boost your chances of doing well during LinkedIn searches and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software scans – by including a list of industries where you’ve worked.

Bottom Line: Connect the dots by calling attention to your talent for industry-spanning success!

Goodbye Ambiguity, Hello Clarity

These strategies that provide clarity to seemingly unrelated industries, roles and responsibilities will ensure your reader connects the dots and is left with a clear understanding of how your career story aligns with your career aspirations.


Need More Support with Your Career Transition?
Watch this:
Don’t Give Up On Your Career Change: The Tools You Need to Keep Moving


About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.