Dear Sam: I am a 38-year-old woman who has been trying to find a job within my area. I am a seasoned administrative professional and I have been on 190 interviews in the past 2 years. This has been quite frustrating. Despite having experience, no one is giving me a chance to prove my worth. Do you have any advice for a woman with my skills? I have attached my resume for your review to see where I might be causing a snag with my job search. – Tamara
Dear Tamara: Why are you looking at your resume if it has yielded 190 interviews in 2 years? That is one interview every 4 days! When the resume is getting results, there is no reason to reinvent the resume! Professional firms like mine offer coaching, but you can also head to your local job and family services office where a counselor could sit face-to-face with you, explain interviewing strategies, and perhaps identify what nonverbal or verbal cues may be occurring that are preventing you from getting the job.
Having said that, Tamara, while your resume is clearly working for you, there are still opportunities for improvement. You have not presented one accomplishment on your resume. Are employers perhaps inviting you for an interview based on where you have worked and the titles you have held, and then perhaps not seeing the “value” you contributed? You must use your resume to garner the interest of the reviewer and differentiate your candidacy from the other candidates who will be just as qualified. Perhaps give some additional thought to the content you are delivering and the accompanying messages you are conveying during your interview. Ensure both are packed with value based on the fact you not only performed your jobs, but delivered value above and beyond.
Dear Sam: I read your column regularly and desperately need your help. I am 55 years old with questions and concerns regarding employment. I am having a difficult time trying to find work! I am beginning to think it’s because of my age. Am I high risk? A liability? Why aren’t employers calling me back? – Theresa
Dear Theresa: The concern I have with your resume is that you have not fully explored your roles, responsibilities, challenges faced, differentiating experiences, and key contributions. You really are not conveying your age on your resume, given that you only date experiences back to the year 2003, so your age is not playing a role during the resume screening process. I would, however, omit the dates on your education, as by presenting the years you graduated with select certificates, you are adding years to your candidacy unnecessarily.
As mentioned, the issue with your resume is that it is lacking engaging content and packaging. Each of your five positions is described with a handful of brief, fragmented sentences. You are creating no visual interest with this approach—no bullet points, no selective formatting, and no prioritization of content—and, therefore, likely not holding the attention of the reader beyond the average 4- to 7-second screening process.
Why not revamp your resume to explore your roles in a brief paragraph—which hides short fragmented statements—with accomplishments or highlights explored in bullet points? Bold the key takeaway in each bullet point to add visual interest and pull the reader through your resume. Once you do this, I think you will create more excitement about your candidacy. You have great, related, and relevant experience, so you just need to present it in a more attractive package.
Lastly, I noticed that your salary history is included as page three of your resume. I just want to be sure that you are never sending that out unless specifically requested. That alone could harm your chances of getting in the door if your past compensation rates are deemed to be too high or even too low.