Filling in online blanks not easy for jobseekers

Back in the day, most careers followed a very linear path charted neatly in chronological order.

You got your degree. You got your first job and stayed there long enough to cut your teeth. That generally meant anywhere from six months to a couple of years, and you didn’t leave until you had the next job in hand.

Switching jobs usually meant moving to a bigger firm, more pay or a more responsibility. Sometimes those moves were achieved within your company, but often required a move to a new employer.

Most people would string together three or four such moves over the course of a career so resumes were neat and tidy and not nearly as lengthy as some LinkedIn accounts are today.

The new normal is anything but tidy. I fill out a lot of online job applications and always pray that somewhere along the line they will have a place to upload a resume because filling in the blanks of past employment has become difficult in the cookie cutter world of job applications.

As a contract worker you are often on a job for a week or two and then the job runs out or you get another contract. At one point this spring, I was working for three television stations in various markets at the same time.

Try filling in that blank.

I’ve worked for the same parent company in different capacities for more than a year. But each station within that parent company has been a separate contract. The work is all very similar — writing, editing, slideshow production, website maintenance. But in a three-week span, I want from working for stations from Winston-Salem to Hawaii to Fort Smith.

For 20-some odd years before that, my career was typical. Small newspaper, medium newspaper, big newspaper, bigger job title/smaller paper, bigger newspaper.

But then the recession brought us to the new job hunt and now many or our resumes look like we can’t hold a job, when the honest truth is we do great at these positions and because of that our names get traded within the industry, so when one contract ends (or even before) we’re on to the next opportunity.

Traditionally, these kinds of workers were looked down upon as job hoppers. My hope is that human resources people can see through the limitations of the cookie-cutter online forms and appreciate folks that are trying to earn a living one contract at a time.

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