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Resume Help/Resume questions; format and work history?


Hello Ralph,

I have been reading many of your other responses and you give great advice, was hoping to get your perspective on a few questions.

1.) I have held 3 different jobs since 1997, was thinking it would show my longevity, that I don't bounce around much. My current job (8 years) is relevant to my current industry (IT).  I am thinking of cutting my resume down to my current job and my last job (giving the majority of real estate to the current) to really focus on what I do today.  

However, I am concerned about not showing enough history.  What are your thoughts on how far back to go?  Especially given the most relevant to jobs I am submitting for is from my current employer, not previous retail job employers.

2.) .pdf or .doc for best proactive as submitting electronics resume?  I hear good reasons for both, but I am leaning toward .doc because I understand these electronic resume systems can't read the data on .pdf

3.)  Would you mind taking a look at my current draft and providing me any feedback?  I am happy to email it over, plus it would probably help you see what I am asking in question 1.

Very much appreciate your time and insights.


Hi Louie,

Feel free to send your resume to my email address below; I'll be pleased to give you a free analysis based on your questions.

Now, as to the specific inquiries:

1) Unless you are told differently by the employer, you need to supply all of your work history.  Sometimes an employer will ask for only the last ten years, but unless you receive other instructions, always include you entire history.  The reason for this is fairly practical.  If you leave significant gaps in what you report, it leaves the employer to try to figure out what you were doing.  Often, their conjecture can be much more harmful to you than the truth ever would.  For example, they may conclude that you were in prison and have left it out so as not to damage your job chances.  Put it all in unless told differently.  I realize that some jobs may not be relevant to your current situation, but try to present those previous positions in the best possible way so that - if possible - they may contain elements of your present job readiness.

2) There are, indeed, some employers who want pdf and some who take only doc.  I would support your leaning toward doc, but what I think is a better solution is to get on the phone (or email) and ask the HR department of the employer (or whomever receives your app documents) and ask if they have a preference.  Often the employer will designate their preference in the job announcement or specify how to submit in the announcement instructions.  I think the best option is to simply ask.   Normally most HR people appreciate you asking and my experience over the years tells me that the vast majority of those folks are very easy to work with.

I look forward to seeing your resume.  If you have specific job announcements, that would help me to evaluate your app in context.  Also, if you have a cover letter that you will send, I'll take a look at that also if you'd like.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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