Dear Sam: I would like to get your opinion on how to improve my resume. I am 55 years old, with 20 years of management experience in the food and landscape industries. I have a degree in landscape design/build. I have applied for numerous positions that are suited to my qualifications, skills, and experiences, but the majority of the time, I get zero response. When I have received a reply, I am told I am overqualified. Would it be more effective to format my resume differently to get more interviews? – Chris

Dear Chris: From a review of your resume, I can see some areas in which you are following the appropriate strategies and others where have many opportunities for improvement. Let me paint a picture of your resume for readers…

Your resume opens with an objective statement communicating you are seeking a challenging position with a company where you have the opportunity for growth. It follows with a summary stating you are an experienced manager, accompanied by seven bullet points that present your areas of management experience. Next, you show your technical skills, followed by an exploration of 12 years of professional experience and your associate’s degree.

Okay, let’s look at what’s right and what’s wrong.

Opening your resume with an objective statement is not necessary, and a waste of the most valuable real estate on your resume. Look at your objective statement, does it tell the employer what you can do for them? No. It says what you want, something that does not need to be communicated at this stage in the game. Remove the statement and move the qualifications summary up on your resume.

Your summary is a good start on highlighting your key value offerings. Based on the feedback you have received, I would ask you to make sure the summary aligns with the requirements for the positions you are seeking. If you are told you are overqualified, I imagine it is due to what you have in the summary, not the professional experience section. I say this as the professional experience section is quite brief and would not over qualify you for a management role. Perhaps the summary is throwing people off, possibly due to the language, “Experienced Manager with multiple years of leadership, technical support and training in the customer service field.” Potentially the reader hears “multiple years” and feels that it represents more than the 3-5 or 5-7 years they want. Please review the types of positions you are seeking and see how much experience most of them are requiring, building your summary to present a competitive set of qualifications. Positioning your candidacy at the right level will prevent “you’re overqualified” responses.

Presenting your technical skills next is not an appropriate choice, especially as they are basic and will be assumed to encompass MS Office programs. Relocate this section to the end of your resume.

Your professional experience section needs a lot of attention. Do you know you have described 12 years of professional experience in only 170 words? You should not be able to present that much experience, and the value you contributed, in that few words. And, out of a total of 12 bullet points, only 2 are accomplishments, and both are buried in the middle or at the end of their respective employer’s section. What’s more, you have presented a position you held for 18 months with the statement, “same as above,” telling employers you did not contribute any value at this employer and lacked the enthusiasm or interest to try and explain it differently than your most recent position. While I am sure this isn’t what you were thinking, this is what will be assumed, and if you show a lack of interest in developing your resume, the reader will show a lack of interest in reviewing it. Lastly, you have listed the first four positions presented with no details of what you did in each role, making me question if they should even appear on your resume if you don’t feel they warrant any explanation.

I urge you to review each position you have held and define not only your responsibilities (what was on your job description) but your accomplishments (where you contributed value above and beyond your obligations). You should present a blend of each, being sure to highlight accomplishments more prominently as a way to predict the value you can contribute to your next employer. Let’s look at one of your achievements: “Reported and worked with the president of the company and increased revenue from $90,000 budget to $142,000.” The result of your work is presented, but the actions you took to achieve the result are not. Explore your accomplishments differently, showing the result, and some of the steps taken to accomplish it. For example: “Catapulted revenue 57% in 12 months by capturing a key commercial account, cultivating relationships with existing clients, and leading a team in providing exceptional customer service and support.”

I hope you can see your resume has the potential to be great and open the doors for your target opportunities.