Dear Sam: I read your response to Jane last week, and I too have been wondering what I am doing wrong in the presentation of my brand on my resume. I am trying my best to stay in my current field, but with the threat of my current employer downsizing, I have been exploring other employment options. I started searching in June, and have had interviews, but I am not receiving any job offers. What am I doing wrong? – Carl
Dear Carl: If you are getting interviews, you must be doing something right! I can see from your resume that you are headed in the right direction, but there is room for improvement to ensure potential employers really see the value you offer. Perhaps if you improve the image on paper, you will secure additional interviews, and your job offer rate will improve.
There are three main concerns I have with your resume:
First, you introduce readers to your candidacy with a self-serving objective statement. You have a total of four to seven seconds to grab a reader’s attention; a statement like, “Highly motivated, and dedicated individual seeking a challenging position which will allow me to further develop my existing skills and enable me to acquire new capabilities” does nothing to convey what you are positioned to offer the employer. Instead, open your resume with a strong summary of the unique experience you offer. What about your candidacy is different from that of your competitors? How are you going to differentiate yourself once you get to an interview? Think about these questions and formulate your responses into a solid qualifications summary to open your resume.
Second, you must spend time fully developing the statements on your resume. Currently, you have lists of fragmented bullet points, none of which is more than a few words long. Create a summary of each of your roles, present them in a paragraph format, and remove statements that add little to no value to your candidacy. For example, when I read statements like, “documented imaging” and “provided customer service,” I feel a sense of frustration based on the vagueness of the content.
Statements should fully be explored and every sentence on your resume should add value. Consider expanding on your statements by thinking of the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved. Instead of simply stating that you provided customer service, why not present that same effort by saying something like:
“Delivered exceptional, brand-centric customer service and support to both internal and external customers, demonstrating strengths in meeting customers’ needs in a fast-paced and high-volume environment.”
Do you see how that is different, how the latter of the two statements leaves you feeling “full” instead of “empty”? If you only communicate the sheer basics of your roles, you will be left in the dust as your competitors—who may not be as qualified—shine based on their ability to present the value in their functions.
Third, I want you to work on identifying ways you contributed above and beyond your job descriptions. Currently, your resume includes no information about how you delivered value beyond expectations. You may be granted interviews based on your clear ability to “do” the job, but I fear you are not being offered the job as others are also able to “do” the job but are better able to demonstrate that they can offer value beyond the basics. Think about those challenge-action-result statements and identify ways you really did do more than expected. Did you improve a process? Did you increase organizational efficiencies? Did you reduce claim-handling timelines? Did you bolster quality? You must convey how you can add value—beyond expectations—in order to shine in a competitive climate.
I believe if you address the deficiencies on your resume, you will hit the market with a stronger presentation of your candidacy, help facilitate more productive interviews, and, of course, secure that all-important next career position. Best to you.