Blue-Collar Worker Seeks Career Change

Jay writes:
Dr. Hansen I love your blog so please help me. I am a male in my mid 40s
I have had the same blue-collar job for several years now. I want a career change and am trying to go back to school for training in pursuit of my new
career. The job will consist of working with either city or county government.
My problem is I served in the navy 20 years ago 5 years with honor but my
last year I made a couple of big mistakes and received a bad conduct discharge.
Should I leave this off my resume or be honest up front? Does the city check
on military background? Thank you for any help.

The Career Doctor responds:
First I want to congratulate you on having the courage after all these
years to make a career change. Go to school get the training and if
you can get some experience in the new career field while you are
getting the training.
I see no reason to include your military experience on your resume for
two reasons. First a resume is not a document of your entire job history.
Second most resume experts say job-seekers should really not have
more than the past 15 years of work experience on their resumes.
Now job applications are a different story. And many of those do include
a military service section and you should put your service record there.
The good news is most just ask for your starting date and discharge
date and do not ask about the specifics of the discharge.
Government employers are sometimes more likely to conduct detailed
background checks and if they actually go back that many years they
may find the information about your discharge but I cannot imagine any
employer holding something against a job-seeker from so long ago.
But just in case I would have something prepared that shows the lessons
you took away from your immaturity and how you have used those
lessons to be successful.
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