Dear Sam: I’m really struggling to see why my resumes aren’t effective. I have spent time explaining what I did at each job, highlighting accomplishments, and still I don’t get a response. I even developed multiple versions with different objectives noted. Help! – Rachel
Dear Rachel: I noticed that your resumes do not contain qualifications summaries, and instead use very valuable real estate at the top of page one presenting an objective statement. Defining your purpose or objective is critically important to the development of this section, but instead of simply stating your objective, this section, along with everything on your resume, should be developed to sell yourself for the type(s) of roles you are seeking.
At this stage in the recruitment process, hiring managers are much more interested in what you can do for them, so an objective statement—which typically focuses on what you want—serves no purpose at this stage of the game. In fact, objective statements became so vague and self-serving that they were removed from resumes more than 15 years ago! Just by having an objective statement on your resume you are aging yourself.
Develop your qualifications summary based on a primary purpose, presenting a brief summary of your key qualifiers related to your current career target. Engage the reader by performing due diligence to understand the keywords for the position(s) of interest, and infuse those keywords throughout this summary and the remainder of your resume. I know that most candidates struggle with this section; it is the most difficult part of a resume to write. As a tip, start writing your resume from the bottom up, beginning with the easier sections and leading to the summary. Write the summary last so that you have a clear picture of what you have to offer your target audience. After I write a resume, I typically have several key points from a client’s background that I remember as being most important or impressive, and this guides the development of the summary. Writing this section immediately after creating your resume also helps as your background, qualifications, education, etc. are very fresh in your mind.
Let’s look at your objective statement:
“Seeking a competitive position in an organization with room for growth where I can contribute support in an administrative assistant capacity.”
Now, what is that statement really saying? It’s obvious you are applying for the administrative assistant position, after all, the hiring manager is reading your resume! Everyone is seeking an opportunity with room for growth so that really isn’t “news” to the reader. So, in that very important real estate on page one of your resume you are not adding any value whatsoever.
Instead, consider a qualifications summary like this:
“Customer-centric administrative professional with experience juggling multiple accountabilities spanning office management, executive assistance, human resources, accounting, and customer service. Extremely detail-oriented, yield additional responsibilities based on a reputation for ability to multitask, prioritize assignments, and follow-through on all projects. Demonstrated comfort in fast-paced, deadline-focused environments where team-based collaboration and communication are critical. Problem solver who seeks creative solutions to avoid escalations and optimize client satisfaction.”
Do you see how the latter adds value to your candidacy and actually shows evidence of what you can bring to the table? Strive for something more akin to this, not only to add value to your candidacy, but also to ensure you are leveraging today’s best practices and not aging your candidacy by presenting a resume utilizing old-fashioned techniques.
“Best practices-based approaches to personal branding are critical in executing a successful job search, maximizing responses, and overcoming the challenges of applicant tracking systems.”