Dear Sam: People look at my resume and see that I have never held the specific job title I’m applying for but, while I’ve never held these titles, it is everything that I have been doing at my job for the past five years. I also feel that the personality that people love from me isn’t shining through my resume either. I’ve tried numerous different attempts to get some sort of response and am at a complete loss at this point as to what to do. — Desperate
Dear Desperate: Thanks for attaching your resume so I could see what you are submitting to prospective employers. In less than two seconds, I could see several issues with your resume.
(1) Non-differentiating design – You used a common Word resume template, so you will immediately look like many others who applied for the same job. I use this same template when facilitating seminars to show how you should not design your resume.
(2) You have a typo in the first line of your resume – Did you know that 23% of hiring managers discard a resume with one typo?
(3) Poor prioritization of duties – You open describing functions that offer little relevance to the positions you are seeking.
(4) Too many short-term jobs – You have presented two positions that you held for just a few months when instead you could completely omit these short-term jobs—presenting only years of employment so as not to show gaps—and focus on your longer-term experience.
(5) Vacant content – Let me ask you, if you have provided no explanation of what you did for a given employer, how do you expect a prospective employer to “see” the value in that experience? Don’t put something on your resume and then not explain anything about it!
These are the errors I saw in a very brief review of your resume. I urge you to revamp your resume using today’s standards. You need to do a much better job “translating” your experiences into the language that will attract your target audience. You can have a fantastic resume speaking to your administrative skillset; you just need to be more strategic about developing your brand.
Dear Sam: How long should a typical resume be? I know that length may vary based on the profession, but what is the limit? – Kacey
Dear Kacey: Great question! Most resumes, at least those for mid-career professionals, would be two pages in length. It is only when I am working with an entry-level candidate, or someone with very few employers, that I can accomplish a one-page resume. There is no limit on how long a resume can be—I have written 10+-page CVs—but the general rule is: one page for entry-level candidates, two for professionals, and three for executives. What is more important than selecting an arbitrary length for your resume, is determining how much space you should take to communicate your value. Ensuring you do not sacrifice value for brevity was a focus of a recent column I wrote. Too many candidates focus on the length of a resume instead of spending the appropriate time and space exploring how they have added value to their employers, and therefore, their candidacy.
Remember, in the ever-so-brief screening process, an employer will not even get through page one of your resume before deciding whether to bring you in. Hence, if you have two pages exploring your candidacy, the employer will spend the time to review that—just as they would the rest of page one—after the all-important decision has been made to screen you “in.” Therefore, the length of a resume is fairly inconsequential in the scheme of the initial screening process; it is much more important to utilize your space wisely. Besides, if you arbitrarily trim your resume to one page, when your resume is scanned for keywords by an applicant tracking system, you will likely have far lower keyword relevance just due to the limited content. I hope this helps shape your decision as to the length of your resume.