Three Resume Dilemmas and How to Deal with Them

We’ve got resumes on our minds here at Alliance since we are deep into providing resume feedback to candidates slated to attend our November hiring conference. After having coached thousands of military candidates over the years, we thought it would be a good idea to mention three common dilemmas that many have asked us about, along with potential solutions that may be helpful to you.  

Note: These dilemmas are somewhat unique to chronological resumes, which is the most often-used resume format.

Dilemma #1

I had a job that was only for about 4 months until a more permanent position opened up. Since I wasn’t in the position very long, I only have one achievement to highlight. How do I deal with that?

Possible Solution

In this situation, we usually recommend that the person combine that job with the one they had prior or subsequent to it.  It’s up to them if they want to describe the job that they served temporarily in. But in most cases, it’s not necessary. An exception would be if they have a significant bullet for that temp job they want to highlight.  If that bullet doesn’t seem to flow logically with the job description for the subsequent job, then it might be worth mentioning that temporary job.

Note: This is also relevant to your last job in the military. We often see situations where a company commander leaves command three to six months prior to leaving the military.  To ride their time out, they are put in the operations shop working on special projects. In most cases, those jobs aren’t worth mentioning so we recommend that they extend the end date of the previous job to the present date.

Dilemma #2

I’ve had six different jobs in the military. If I include all of them on my resume it won’t all fit on one page. [Note: At Alliance we use a one page resume format]

Possible Solution

This might be the most common dilemma we see. In the majority of cases, the appropriate way to handle it is to combine adjacent jobs into one job that encompasses the duration of both jobs (similar to Dilemma #1). In combining the jobs, it’s okay to show both titles such as in this example:  Platoon Leader / Executive Officer.  If doing so, you can develop a job description that combines the best of both roles. In a slightly different scenario, a person might have similar jobs back-to-back, but in a different organization or with a slightly different focus.  A good example would be if a surface warfare officer was a division officer on two different ships back-to-back or if an infantry officer was a platoon leader for two different types of platoons, one after the other.  In this case, we normally recommend that they use “Division Officer” or “Platoon Leader” as the title but describe both platoons in the write-up.

Dilemma #3

I held two different jobs simultaneously for a short time while waiting for my replacement to arrive and take over the job I was leaving. What’s the best way to show that?

Possible Solution

Some people believe that it’s good to show the overlapping timelines because the interviewer will see that they held down two jobs simultaneously. Unfortunately, that may not be their interpretation. Instead, they may think it’s a mistake on your resume. Although it’s the kind of thing that you could easily explain during an interview, it’s something you don’t want to have to explain because you might not even be given that opportunity. So here the best course of action is to choose an arbitrary, yet reasonable, date when one job ends and the next one starts. During the interview, you should feel free to highlight that you actually handled both jobs simultaneously for a brief period.  
Of course, every situation has its own uniqueness to it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation for any of these dilemmas.

Do you have your own resume dilemma?  If so, put it in the comments section or drop us a line at