If you’re looking for a new position after holding a job for a long period of time, you need to look with particular care at your resume. Why? Because a long tenure in a previous position can be viewed positively or negatively by prospective employers. You – and your resume – need to be prepared for either perspective.
On the positive side, you’ve demonstrated organizational loyalty and reliability, as well as the ability to get along with supervisors and co-workers over a long stretch. Employers tend to view all of these qualities positively.
These skills also have specific value to employers. Replacing your opposite — very short-term employees — costs organizations both time and money in recruiting and training.
But frankly, many employers may also view a long tenure at one company with suspicion. You may be judged insufficiently ambitious, for one thing – loathe to take on new challenges or skills, or simply not good at them. Employers may also worry that you’ll be inflexible, too: wedded to one system of doing things and uncomfortable with change.
The potentially dim view may be especially strong if you’ve spent your time in one position, without any promotions or new responsibilities.
As a result, you need to develop your resume to emphasize the positives of your current position and counterbalance any potential negative impressions. Here’s how.
Focus on Your Achievements and Accomplishments
All resumes should focus on specific achievements and accomplishments, customized to each position you’re applying for, and yours is no exception. Prospective employers look to see what you are likely to do for them – and the chief evidence they look for is what you’ve done for past employers.
You need to highlight key points that either contributed to the company’s bottom line revenue in some way (or, alternatively, saved money). If at all possible, these contributions should be quantified. A list of the tasks you perform and the skills you possess is not enough.
In other words, “part of a team implementing a new advertising campaign that increased sales by 15% through customer engagement” shows your contribution to the bottom line more strongly than “part of a team focused on enhancing customer engagement” – and both are stronger than “part of a team implementing new advertising methods.”
The latter indicates you worked as part of a team learning new methods, true. But it’s stronger to focus on the drive toward increasing sales, because sales is the part that leads to profit. It shows potential employers that you know what the business is about.
Show a Record of Growth
Craft your resume to show a record of growth in the company. If you were promoted, break out each new position clearly, with new, immediately visible headings. Use the words “promoted to” and develop the description of each new position to show clearly how each position built on the one before.
In other words, if you enhanced customer engagement to drive sales in one position, were you promoted to Customer Engagement Manager or to train new staff on customer engagement techniques? Make that clear.
If you moved laterally and received a different title, break that out clearly on your resume with a separate head as well. It shows that management selected you for a different role. Use the words “selected” or “chosen” if appropriate. If the new role had more scope or required new skills, craft the resume description to demonstrate that.
If you weren’t promoted or moved but did play different roles, develop your resume to show those roles. It’s likely that, over a 10- or 20-year stretch or more, your job did change quite a bit. Focus on any role that helped the company move forward, such as new products or new methods.
A good technique is to call up past resumes if you have them and compare the way you described your position then with what your functions are now.
Were you tapped to train new employees in specific areas or to provide ongoing resources, for example? Did you learn new computer or other skills? Did you become a liaison with other departments?
Don’t hesitate to think of companywide roles rather than ones in your specific job, too. Do you moderate an employee forum on Slack? Were you active in the annual charity drive? These demonstrate growth in engagement with the company and with the community, and thus is also potentially valuable to employers.
If you find it challenging to show growth in your role, it’s acceptable to show growth through volunteer work as well.
Show Any New Education or Training
While education or training never tops any resume, be sure to highlight any new education or training you’ve received in the past five years towards the bottom, by type and year. If you now lead Zoom conferences, say so!
Your goal here is to show willingness and ability to learn, plus the flexibility to engage in new activities.
If you were specifically chosen to receive company-paid training, be sure to say so! It indicates their willingness to invest in you.
Delete Any Outdated Skills or Credentials
Conversely, give your resume a thorough once-over to spot any skills or credentials that might seem outdated to a prospective employer. Delete them.
Outmoded software or hardware computer training can be a big culprit here. Don’t bother to break out learning a software 20 years ago that has become completely standard knowledge in the intervening period.
A lengthy tenure at one company can be viewed positively or negatively. To emphasize the positive and counterbalance the negative, you need to a resume that focuses on your achievements, demonstrates a record of growth, and highlights any new education or training.
Schedule a resume review with one of our coaches today!