Dear Sam: I need help. To be honest, I am out of options. I am an educator, motivator, and public speaker. I have two undergraduate degrees—Bachelor’s and Associate’s in Business Administration—and 15-plus years of work experience. I am also highly involved with my community. In brief, I love what I do. I’m diligently seeking a position that will not interfere with my teaching schedule. My heart is burdened because I have tried so hard and nothing seems to be working. Any suggestions on my resume? – T.
Dear T.: Thank you for emailing me your resume so I could assess opportunities for improvement. There are several areas you can look to improve; let me touch on a few.
Your format lacks engagement, there is too little white space, and the margins are far too small. The margins on your resume are, as mentioned, too narrow. While I am not a fan of large margins, I would stick to at least 0.7” left and right. For the top and bottom, I usually stick with 0.6”-0.8”. As you are presenting 10+ years of experience, and as your resume is currently spilling onto page two anyway, do not be afraid to spread out your resume to add white space and ease readability. While content is the most essential part of developing your resume, you must pay attention to the format to immediately engage the reader. Please take a look at samples on my website for inspiration.
There is no transparency to what you want to do or how you are positioning yourself. You must position yourself—or target your candidacy—otherwise, you be seen as an expert of nothing. A hiring manager is looking for someone with targeted skills and experience and will rarely take the time to review your experience to see how you “fit” within their organization. You must communicate, via your content, how you “fit” by immediately positioning yourself on paper. In addition, what you have on your resume —in your career profile section—is built on soft skills, not unique experiences. No one could read that section of your resume and understand where you are going and how you are uniquely qualified. Recreate this section based on a clear understanding of what positions you are seeking and what experiences, credentials, abilities, skills, and education your audience is looking for in a candidate.
Your professional experience section lacks value based on limited content and no presentation or differentiation of responsibilities versus achievements. While self-promotion does not come easily to most, you must figure out how to showcase your candidacy by exploring the context of your roles and the impact of your contributions.
When promoting your responsibilities and achievements, be sure to present your information appropriately. Your responsibilities would be presented in a concise paragraph format. Your achievements would then be presented in bullet points following that paragraph. Doing this focuses on where you added value to your past employers, as rarely will readers choose to review a paragraph of information over more concise bullet points.
I would highly recommend you check out samples on my website, other vetted sites, or in recently written resume writing books for ideas of how to structure and format your resume. Remember, your lack of success is not a reflection of your abilities but rather a reflection of the strength of how you are communicating those experiences and skills on paper. Revamp your resume and renew your search, and I am confident you will find something great.