Resume with an Atypical Career Progression

The career progression of most job seekers follows a typical pattern.  It starts with an entry level job and progresses to positions of increasing responsibility.  At any point in time, the job seeker holds a single full time position.  This progression is very common and easy to understand.  So, what do you do if your career isn’t typical?

The resume I ran into today dealt with a non-traditional career in a very effective way.  The job seeker had held a series of sales and sales management positions.  Then, a couple years ago, he shifted into a consulting role.  His resume shows five concurrent positions, with titles such as Director of Sales, Director of Business Development and Director of Fundraising.

This list of positions raised a number of questions immediately.  Holding what appear to be five full time positions simultaneously doesn’t make sense.  My initial reaction was confusion.  I had no idea what the job seeker was doing.

One tactic the job seeker could have taken would be to describe each position in detail.  This would make for a very long resume.  The job seeker took a different approach.  He provided one line that explained that these were consulting positions.  He then offered an example.  In the example, he described one of positions in detail.  This showed the type of work the job seeker was doing.  Because the positions were similar, it is easy to see how the other roles would have similar responsibilities and accomplishments.

The job seeker then provided a traditional description of each full time job he had held prior to moving into consulting.  The approach turned out to be clear and easy to follow.

The key to the effectiveness of this resume was its clear presentation of what the job seeker did.  The way it was written was unusual, but it made it clear, very quickly, what the job seeker did.  Although I started out confused, it only took a few seconds to understand what was going on.  There are other ways the job seeker could have presented their consulting experience without writing a long description of each position.  The important thing is not providing every last detail – it is showing a clear picture of your overall experience.  In this regard, the job seeker did a good job by describing just one of the five positions.

If you have a non-traditional career progression following a traditional chronological format may not work.  If you are uncertain how to structure your resume, get help.