Dear Sam: After 10 years in inside sales, my employer went out of business. Unfortunately, more recent positions I have held have been short-term as I jumped at the first thing I could find. I now know this was not the wisest decision as it makes me look like a “job hopper.” I have more than 20 years of sales experience, and have won many awards, but apparently, all the “attaboys” don’t mean very much as I am not getting any callbacks for interviews. — Brian

Dear Brian: Your awards, sales contributions, and track record of surpassing performance targets position you as a top sales recruit. The issue is not your record of results, rather the way you have presented them on your resume. I find your resume exceptionally difficult to read with a complex and confusing blend of formatting, headings, and spacing. While I know your recent history shows a little more movement than we would like, I believe once you address resume formatting and content issues, your last five or so years of experience will appear much stronger.

I mentioned the formatting confusion above and touched on the need for content revisions. Do you know your resume contains almost 950 words, but only about 10% of those words relate to ways you contributed value and earned those “attaboys!” You may think you are focusing on your accomplishments, but you are not. Revamping your content to focus on accomplishments is what you need to focus on to “show” your value to potential employers, and to overcome the potential disqualifier of being seen as a job-hopper.

Lastly, your resume is filling three pages, which contributes to the appearance of “a lot of jobs.” Once you address the content and formatting, I would encourage you to attempt a two-page presentation of your candidacy. I believe this will provide a clearer picture of your background while making you focus on the highlights of each position versus the mundane day-to-day duties. Best of luck to you.

Dear Sam: I am 21 years old and have three years of experience in administrative and customer service roles. I need to sell myself in my resume; my problem is that I do not know how. Can you point me in the right direction? – Steve

Dear Steve: Let’s touch on a few critical areas of your resume.

Resume Length & Design
As an entry-level candidate with just a few years of experience, you should have a one-, not two-page resume. As an administrative specialist claiming technical proficiency, I’d like to see a more aesthetically pleasing design showcasing your Word skills and ability to produce a well-designed document.

Objective vs. Qualifications Summary
Your objective statement is taking up valuable space at the top of page one and does not tell the hiring manager what you can offer. Replace this with a summary highlighting your skills and attributes. Use this section to “sell” why the hiring manager should interview (and hire) you!

Professional Experience
You presented a paragraph of your job description, and while providing this information is essential (to an extent), what you want to focus the reader’s attention on is where you truly contributed value. Think about the things you achieved while on the job. Did you help with any special projects? Did you receive customer commendations? All of these things are areas in which you could present more achievement-oriented statements.

It is assumed you have a high school diploma, so I would advise not to list that on your resume. In your case, as you received multiple academic honors, I would suggest pulling those items out and including them in your qualifications summary. I would then omit an education section, as you do not have a college degree, and relocate your community involvement work to a separate section.

I am confident if you revamp your resume you will emerge as a highly competitive candidate. You have a strong background for an entry-level candidate; it just needs to be presented a little more strategically than you have done thus far. A great resume can change the game for an entry-level candidate, so take the time to prove your value on paper, and the right doors will begin to open.