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Resume Help/best approach for a varied background


Hello Ralph, thank you for your time. Ugh, I never thought I'ld be back searching for work again! My problem lies in a background that is not impressive in today's world. I got married straight out of high school so I don't have a impressive college degree. For years we moved around a lot since my husband was in the service, so there are quite a few employment gaps. Most employment would be considered simple PT jobs for a little extra spending money, like waitressing, house cleaning etc. After the marriage ended and the kids left home I got my CDL drivers license & took a position as a big rig truck driver. I thought that would last me till retirement but I recently had to quit driving after 7 yrs having developed job related health issues. Can you recommend how to form a resume for someone like me? How far back does my employment history have to go? Some of the people companies aren't even there any more for verification so do I still list them on applications?. I see there are lots of resume building websites but they all have examples for professionals. Is there any hope for me? thanks again for anything you can do.

Hi Christine,

Don't despair; you would be surprised how many people are in the same position you are in.  We can fix this!

First, don't use a "resume building website" and, yes, there is lots of hope for you!  I will give you a bit of guidance here, but what I am going to recommend to you is that you send me some information that can be developed into a resume.  If you have something at all in the way of an actual resume, that would be fine to begin with; if not, just send me the following: full name, contact info (address, phone, email).  Then just give me a list of jobs you have held.  Include the trucking job and perhaps anything since then or anything 3-5 years prior to the trucking position.

Give me the name and location of your high school.

Then - most importantly - tell me what kind of work you are applying for (or expect to apply for).  If you have actual jobs in mind, send me the job announcements.  This is critical.  A general resume will never do you justice and will likely interfere with getting an interview.  We need to target your skills to the position you apply for to make the best impression.  So, for the jobs you had, give me the name of the company, city/state of location, inclusive months/years of employment, and the duties you had in each job.  Yes, you still list employers whether or not they can be contacted.

Get all this together in document form and attach it to an email.  Send it to me at the address below and I will take a look at what you have and we'll go from there, okay?  Don't worry about this - we're going to make you look great!

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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