[Ask IT Career Coach] is a Career Advice Column for Information Technology (IT) professionals looking for answers to their most challenging career situations …
Submit questions about your career using the [Ask IT Career Coach] service and I will answer it for you just like I am answering this.
Here is a question submitted by Michael, an IT Project Manager …
How can I incorporate my 14 years Supply Chain / Logistics background with my current IT Project Management experience, without aging myself or making myself unmarketable.
I have been contemplating a Masters in Global Logistics / Supply to go with my BS Information Systems, with a PMP Certification and a Six Sigma Greenbelt.
How Often Do Professionals Change Careers?
Michael’s question on “how to combine multiple different careers into one functional resume” echoes the challenges that we will all face at one point or the other in our career because like it or not, just like Michael we are bound to change our careers at least once.
The question is not “if you change your career“, but “when you change your career“, how should you handle that on our resume?
On one hand, if you do not show your previous experience on your resume, you will have to answer questions on “what you have been doing with your life” or about “the gaps on your resume“.
But then, if you do include all your previous working experience, which in Michael’s case goes back as far as 14 years, you risk being labeled a dinosaur, what a dilemma!
So, I will lay out some principles that will help you decide on how to write your resume on a case by cases basis since no one answer will work for all situations.
Aging As A Natural Process
I get it, once you hit 40, you start worrying about your age. And I agree with you that “Age Discrimination” is alive and well in corporate America.
I have heard of at least one interview where a job candidate was disqualified on sight because he looked like an “older gentleman”.
But do not be too concerned about age-based discrimination. In a way people are always being discriminated against based on their race, gender, ethnic origin, nationality, income or age.
Instead of focusing on your age over which you have no control, focus on things that you can absolutely control, like your skills, experience, education, training, etc. and become the best that you can be.
What Did Stephen Covey Say?
In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey mentions that proactive people do not worry or focus on factors or things over which they have little or no control … instead they focus on their “Sphere Of Influence” … those factors or circumstances over which they exercise control!
So, the deal is “why focus on your age?” over which you have no control?
Focus on things like your skills, your learning, your attitude over which you have complete control!
Can You Combine Multiple Careers On One Resume?
The Relevance Principle
If your current career is in a completely different industry or is unlike the past careers in terms of job responsibilities and skills, then including your past careers will not advance your case at the job interview.
Since you will end up having a large gap in your resume, you may still include your past careers on your resume
Do this by rewriting your resume so that it focus strongly on accomplishments, responsibilities or roles that align with your current career as an IT Project Manager.
Another way of doing this is to rewrite your resume so that it highlights a gradual transition into your current IT Project Management Role over a number of years.
This will give you a credible reason for being in a job that has little or no relevance to your current career
On the other hand, if you had been much younger, you may be better off skipping the past career positions as the employment gaps in your resume will not be that large.
How to write better, more focused resumes
The current trend in the Information Technology (IT) Industry is actually to keep multiple versions of your resume with each one written for a particular industry or job function.
If you are working as an IT Project Manager and not in a Supply Chain / Logistics capacity, then you don’t need to include that in your resume because it is offers little value to the employer.
You may for example include the last few years of your supply chain management experience and skip the earlier years altogether.
Perhaps what will help you the most is an exercise I describe as “Putting Yourself In The Employers Shoes”.
Imagine that you are an employer reviewing resumes for an IT Project Management Job, the most important thing is the ability of a candidate to do a good job.
With that in mind, “How relevant is 14 years of Supply Chain / Global Logistics Management” experience to the job of an IT Project Manager in your business?
Do you see that from an employers perspective, 14 years spent in a completely different career is not relevant to an IT Project Manager’s Job?
The exception is the job candidate who takes the additional steps of showing an employer the value in their past careers by expanding on tasks, responsibilities, roles or job functions that are similar to those performed by project managers.
This post was submitted by Michael.