Dear Debbie: Great question. First, if he were to omit all dates from his resume then assumptions would be far worse than reality. The key would be to decide how much of his 20-year career to include. If he is pursuing more senior-level roles then presenting 20 years might be just perfect. If however he is pursuing roles of a more mid-level, then perhaps only dating positions held over the course of the past 10-15 years may be more prudent. To do this without being misleading, date titles instead of tenure with the military. For instance, if he held 4 roles over the course of his career, perhaps only include the last 2 or 3 in order to only present about 10-15 years of his career. You can always “byline” the earlier role(s) with a brief italics statement at the end of his professional experience section. This statement would simply state, “Additional experience with the military in foundational leadership roles” or something related to what enhances his candidacy today. The key to this byline is not to date it so that you avoid unnecessarily aging his candidacy.
I imagine however, that based on a 20-year track record of success in the aviation field, he is somewhat of a subject matter expert (SME) in his field. When you are in this position, you are able to present more of your career to “back up” your subject mastery. I’d probably focus less on how many years to present and more on differentiating his candidacy through the uniqueness of his experiences, education, and key contributions. I am confident that if he does this his job search will be a success.
Dear Sam: My son will be completing graduate school in May. He sent me his resume to review as he wants to begin his job search soon. His desire is to find a full time position, ideally with a college or professional team, as a strength and conditioning coach. You can see from his resume that he has had some very good internships, and is currently a graduate assistant at his university. I am interested in seeing if the resume he sent me represents him and his experiences in the strongest way possible to get the attention he will need to attract a full time position in this field. – R.
Dear R.: I think your son is exceptionally well qualified to enter his choice field. I am not sure if I have ever seen anyone having completed five internships and three other professional experiences prior to graduation! He has done a great job qualifying himself for target jobs. What I think could make a difference on his resume is providing a summary of his experiences. I say this as reading through eight positions is somewhat cumbersome and I do find myself getting a bit lost in a sea of words that don’t really capture my attention. I think if he had a summary it would better convey the cumulative value of his experiences. Other things he could use to better engage the reader would be adding some color, perhaps using logos of the great places he has worked, and utilizing excerpts from any of his letters of recommendation. I think his resume needs to come alive given his field, show a little more personality, and really demonstrate the value in the depth and breadth of experience he has gained.