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 http://www.ladybug-design.com
Dear Sam: I am writing to you because I need some help. To be honest, I am out of options. I am an educator, motivator, and public speaker. I have two undergraduate degrees—Bachelor's and Associate's in Business Administration—and 15-plus years of work experience. I am also highly involved with my community. In brief, I love what I do. I'm diligently seeking a position that will not interfere with my teaching schedule. My heart is burdened because I have tried so hard and nothing seems to be working. Any suggestions on my résumé? – T.
Dear T.: Thank you for emailing me your résumé so I could assess opportunities for improvement. There are a number of areas you can look to improve; let me touch on a few.
Packaging — Your format lacks engagement, there is too little white space, and the margins are far too small. The margins on your résumé are, as mentioned, too narrow. While I am not a fan of large margins, I would stick to at least 0.7" left and right. For the top and bottom I usually stick with 0.6"-0.8". As you are presenting 10+ years of experience, and as your résumé is currently spilling onto page two anyway, do not be afraid to spread out your résumé to add white space and ease readability. While content is the most important part of the development of your résumé, you must pay attention to the format in order to immediately engage the reader. Take a look at samples on my website for inspiration.
Positioning — There is no transparency to what you want to do or how you are positioning yourself. You must position yourself—or target your candidacy—otherwise you be seen as an expert of nothing. A hiring manager is looking for someone with targeted skills and experience, and will rarely be able to take the time to review your experience to see how you "fit" within their organization. You must communicate, via your content, how you "fit" by immediately positioning yourself on paper. In addition, what you do have on your résumé—in your career profile section—is built on soft skills, not unique experiences. No one could read that section of your résumé and understand where you are going and how you are uniquely qualified. Recreate this section based on a clear understanding of what positions you are seeking and what experiences, credentials, abilities, skills, and education that audience is looking for in a candidate.
Promotion — Your professional experience section lacks value based on limited content and no presentation or differentiation of responsibilities versus achievements. While self-promotion does not come easily to most, you must figure out how to showcase your candidacy through exploration of the context of your roles and the impact of your contributions.
When promoting your responsibilities and achievements, be sure to place your information in the appropriate manner. Your responsibilities would be presented in a paragraph format. Your achievements would then be presented in bullet points following that paragraph. By doing this you ensure focus is placed on where you added value to your past employers, as rarely will readers choose to review a paragraph of information over more succinct bullet points.
I would highly recommend you check out samples on my website or in recently written résumé writing books for ideas of how to structure and format your résumé. Remember, your lack of success is not a reflection of your abilities, but rather a reflection of the strength of how you are communicating those experiences and abilities on paper. Revamp your résumé and renew your search and I am confident you will find something great.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).