When you have been in the same job or with the same employer for many years, it’s only natural to wonder how relevant your history has become.
The primary goal of any resume is to communicate the expected benefits a new employer can expect to gain by hiring you. To do this, you must demonstrate on paper that you’ve held positions with progressively more responsibility and highlight your accomplishments and what we call “industry-transferable skills.”
Recognizing any potential “perceptual negatives” is also critical. For example, twenty years at Kodak— a company with a turbulent history and marred reputation for many recruiters and HR managers— might be best expressed as “Twenty-plus years in the photographic sciences field in digital imaging and office products.” That’s a positive spin on a potential negative.
Working in one industry or for one employer used to be a badge of honor. In today’s marketplace, staying too long in one field can spell career doom. Transitioning from one line of work to another takes finesse in presenting transferable skills, but it can be done. This is another good example of where the job seeker needs to identify his core skills and abilities and a strong resume writer can be priceless in packaging them for prospective employers in other industries.
The banking industry comes to mind as a great example where many people have had to reinvent themselves due to consolidations and buyouts that have taken place over the years. Every time one bank acquires another, legions of back office and mid-level bank employees are tossed on the street. Most don’t end up with jobs at other banks because the jobs for which they qualify ceased to exist with each merger, acquisition or buyout.
The only way to recover career-wise is to identify these core skills and abilities that make you marketable and minimize the nitty-gritty of what you did all day in your job. Most prospective employers could care less about your knowledge of Federal Reserve Bank requirements, but might be quite interested in your knowledge of navigating federal regulatory requirements. That way, a prospective employer will be able to see your expected benefits and transferable skills. As with politics, it frequently comes down to the spin you put on things.