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Is There a "Hole" in Your Resume?

December 21, 2008
by Tim Tolan
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I was reminded over the past few weeks, how extremely solid candidates with great pedigrees have these larger than life holes in their resumes. Some holes are smaller than others. However, in some instances, I’m talking about holes the size of the

Grand Canyon. What perplexes me about their resume is they see no real problems with the severe “gap-age”. A few of the CIO candidates I met with over the past few weeks had a real “cavalier – so what” attitude about their resume and career progression when I asked a few simple questions. Let’s face it, your resume and your career accomplishments need to be written to the audience that can help or hurt your chances in landing a new senior IT role. Do it the right way!

I can deal with blemishes, a dot-com mulligan and even time horizons when a candidate was a “consultant” in their career. But I must admit, I have a hard time understanding how and why many of these technical superstars face the market in search of a new role after reviewing the information they send me. Missing dates of employment, success metrics and typos – I’ve seen it all!

If you’ve had 4-6 jobs in the past 10 years you have some explaining to do. And don’t get defensive when you are questioned about your “moving and hopping” from a search firm or a prospective employer. On the other hand, if the short stints are for multiple interim CIO positions – that is fairly easy to explain and format on your resume. If your resume looks like a train wreck and you have not done a good job in formatting the interim roles you’ve had in your career, it will be hard to get to first base to and become a serious contender in a CIO search. You need to have a clear verbal message about each role you’ve had – for better or for worse. Honesty is always the best approach.

Consider sending your resume to a friend, a colleague – for that matter send it to me to get a different perspective on how your CV appears to others. Make sure you are not emotionally tied to your own style of writing when it comes to your resume. It needs to be an accurate portrayal of you – and it needs to be easy to follow and understand by those that do not know you. If not - they may never know you!

While beauty is usually in the eye of the beholder – that does not hold true when it comes to resumes.

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Comments

Thanks Tim, good to know-most CIOs don't have the luxury to do that, but if they do, thanks for affirming that many CEOs would view it as a plus.

Tim, if they're really good, do you think it really matters these days if there is a big gap in employment? What about gaps where someone took time off to, say, go live in the desert for a year and think? The kind of CEO that I'd admire and want to work for would see that as an a plus instead of a minus...

As long as the "gaps" can be explained and the reasons for the "gaps" seem plausible - it's usually not a problem. A "gap" that has no explanation at all is problematic We've placed several candidates that decided to take a 12-18 month sabbatical and it was very easy for the candidate to discuss during the interview process. And yes, Daphne, many CEO's would view the time off as a plus and show balance in the candidates' personal life — which is also a good thing!

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

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