Monday, August 27, 2007

Previous Work History

What's up with employers' preoccupation with previous work history on ones application? I mean, yeah, I can understand that they want to know what you did before you came knocking on their door for a job, but I think they put undue emphasis on the importance of only the last several of your previous employers.

Case in point. An acquaintance of mine was an accountant for twenty years after he graduated. He loved accounting, but his company got sold and he lost his job in the transition. While seeking employment as an accountant elsewhere, he bounced from odd job to odd job trying to keep ends met with his obligations. He even had a few holes where he had no job at all.

Eventually, he'd held five different jobs, none of which had much to do with accounting, over a seven year period. Now, every time he fills in an on-line application, his 20 year stint as an accountant drops another notch down the page of jobs he's held.

Look at it from the perspective of the Human Resources person looking over his application. Guy applies for a job as an accountant. Last five entries show nothing about accounting - in fact, what they "show" is that this guy who graduated some 27 years ago can't seem to hold a job longer than 12 months. That recruiter might not even get to the listing that shows his qualifications to fill the vacancy.

The way my friend tries to recover from this discrepancy is to write an outstanding cover letter that begins with his accomplishments of two decades duration. Start with the big stuff and let those ridiculous odd jobs fall out the back where nobody would notice them. He hopes the HR guy will read the cover first, (as he's supposed to,) which should minimize, or at least help explain the fact he's not done accounting for the last few years, yet remains highly qualified.

Side note: One application he filled out wanted him to account for every period greater than one month that he was not employed anywhere since graduation. What the heck does a potential employer do with that kind of information?? He had a solid job for 20 years, but because he had a few periods of idleness while seeking a return to his career, that makes him unemployable?


A Solution?

I would like to see job applications allow one to list their previous employment in an order that differs from simply most recent to least recent. How about if they let you list them in the order that they apply to the position you are seeking? That way, any jobs you held that were minor or didn't apply would just drop to the bottom, even if they were recent. In the end, wouldn't that make more sense?
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2 Comments:

At Friday, August 31, 2007 12:18:00 PM, Anonymous freddie said...

Absolutely.

I think if I were in his shoes, I'd go ahead and list them in reverse reverse-chronological order, and then explain why if they asked.

 
At Saturday, September 01, 2007 1:05:00 PM, Blogger The Sarcasticynic said...

Good idea, Freddie, but I've seen one site that automatically orders the entries according to the dates listed.

Guess you'd need to fudge the dates.

But then you'd be lying at the point you state, "the above info is correct ..."

 

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