Winter Makeover Series: Kindness of a stranger

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Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a graduate degree in Marketing and Communication, and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call 1-888-9-LADYBUG or visit

Meet Martina…
Martina came to me seeking a training and compliance role. She had worked for 2 state agencies for the past 14 years and was attempting to leverage her administrative background to secure a higher level position.

Stranger turns friend…
Martina rode the bus to work each day. It was on her daily commute that she came to know Jodi, once a stranger, now a friend. Through the course of their morning bus rides together, Jodi and Martina began to learn about one another, and it was on one of these bus rides that Martina shared her resume with Jodi. Not feeling that Martina had a resume truly reflecting her skills, and also knowing that Martina was a single mother and already struggling financially, Jodi called me and engaged my services for her new friend. Jodi and I had worked together in the past, so she knew, first-hand, of the impact a strong resume can have on the success of your search.

Painting the wrong picture…
Martina definitely had an "old school" resume full of lots of faux pas and ineffective presentation strategies. First, she opened her resume with a self-serving objective statement which communicated virtually no value to a prospective employer. Next, she presented her education, which would not differentiate her candidacy, given a lot of the roles she would be seeking would expect a degree. So, in essence, in the most important real estate on page one of her resume, Martina had communicated nothing to differentiate her candidacy.

In Martina's professional experience section, she had separated positions with the same employer, making it look like she had more employers than she actually had. In addition, she presented all of her experience in brief bullet points, making it impossible to discern her responsibilities from her accomplishments. Instead of presenting how she had driven value for her past employers, Martina was simply presenting a laundry list of everything she had ever done. Making the picture even messier, Martina had listed addresses and phone numbers of past employers which was information that did not need to be presented on her resume.

Painting the right picture…
Martina had so much to offer a prospective employer. Not only did she have related experience, she had contributed an incredible amount of value to her past employers. To paint the right picture, Martina's resume began with a qualifications summary. Instead of presenting a vague and invaluable objective statement, a summary of her key qualifications would facilitate the screening process and answer an employer's question as to why they should interview her.

Next, in the professional experience section, Martina's roles were fully explored with responsibilities presented in paragraphs and accomplishments presented in bullet points. A far cry from her original resume, Martina's new resume showcased the value she offered. By focusing on how Martina had contributed value to her past employers, her experience better related to the roles she was now pursuing. Putting her administrative titles on the back burner, the focus of all of the content on Martina's resume related to the compliance and training fields she was pursuing. In addition, through selecting formatting—bolding, italics, and color—a brief visual scan of Martina's resume left the reader with the high points critical to effectively evaluating Martina's candidacy.

Starting anew…
Martina was so pleased with her new image on paper, received positive feedback on her resume, and navigated several interviews shortly after receipt. Through the kindness of a stranger and a more relevant picture painted of her candidacy, Martina was able to feel confident about her search and the relevance of her candidacy. View Martina's before and after resumes on

Would you like ‘Dear Sam' to critique your resume? For a critique, send resume to her.

Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).