Dear Sam: I thought my resume was good enough to get a job. Unfortunately, I have submitted resumes left and right and have only had a few interviews. Not only are there not many opportunities in my region, but I fear I am also being judged as either over- or under-qualified. If I apply for marketing manager positions, I cannot demonstrate management experience. If, however, I apply for a lateral job, I think hiring managers may assume my compensation requirements may be too high given my master’s degree and 15+ years of experience. Please let me know what you think of my resume and how I can make it “pop!” — Rachel
Dear Rachel: That can be quite the sticky spot to be in—under-qualified for management opportunities yet really being seen—based on education and experience—as over-qualified for the coordinator roles akin to what you are doing now. From reviewing your resume, I think you could qualify for management opportunities. Let me explain a few ways you can improve the effectiveness of your resume.
Your resume, especially when you are in marketing, is akin to a brochure for a product. You need to infuse your resume with personality, create your brand, and send a targeted message positioning you for management-level opportunities. To do so, let’s start with your qualifications summary. Currently, you are highlighting irrelevant early experiences and adding the years up for the reader. I never like qualifications summaries that contain statements like: “15 years of marketing experience, 10 years in foodservice, and 5 years in sales.” The reader will assume those are consecutive years, not concurrent, so will immediately assume you are older than you are with 30 years of professional experience. Instead of this approach, use this section to showcase your depth of marketing experience. You do not mention your master’s degree in marketing and communication until page two of your resume—which will likely not be seen during the screening process—which is a disservice to your candidacy as a management-level candidate. Think of your summary statement as the place you want to introduce your marketing expertise, tout the value you have contributed to past employers, and showcase the relevance and recency of your graduate degree in the field.
Within your experience section, be sure you are sending the same message. Present brief overviews of each of your roles in a paragraph format, but then engage the reader with your bulleted accomplishments. Within these highlighted areas, focus on your higher-level functions, speaking about leadership, strategy, and management. Attempt to show how you have managed and not just executed what others developed. Follow this approach throughout your professional experience section, taking the time and space critical to exploring the depth and breadth of your marketing experience. For instance, currently, you have just 26 words describing a 10-year position. While you add 46 words highlighting what you felt were your accomplishments in that role, none of those statements are accomplishments. As I read each of your three bullet points, I am struck by the fact that I feel they would be inherent aspects of your job; in other words, they were expected functions likely defined in your job description. Accomplishment statements should be reserved for presenting things you did well, ways you added value beyond expectations, or results you drove that were at or above goals.
I am confident you can position yourself effectively for management-level positions; you just need to spend some time thinking about your experience differently and refining your brand. Check out samples on my website for ideas on creating a unique visual and targeted message. Best of luck to you.