Dear Sam: As my job search continues, I need help. I may not be getting results based on my resume or the fact that I do not have much experience in my degree field. I am a social butterfly, and my journey has included pursuing a medical assistant diploma, then an associate’s degree in business, and now a bachelor’s degree in social work. I am searching for clerical positions. What am I doing wrong? – Nicole
Dear Nicole: Let me describe your resume to readers. You open with an objective statement followed by an employment section. In the employment section, you present five positions, three of which have no description of your role. You end with computer and professional skills and education. Let me briefly touch on each area to get you on the right path.
Objective: Nix the objective statement and incorporate the skills you are promoting in a qualifications summary. You must immediately grab the reader’s attention and keep them engaged to review your candidacy further.
Employment: If you would like your positions to be seen as valuable in the evaluation of your candidacy, then you must provide details of your roles and key contributions. You have presented two years of your most recent experience with no word about what you did. Earlier positions, where you included brief descriptions, are too short and do not adequately represent your responsibilities and achievements.
Education: Omit high school information, leaving your three education programs presented. In the qualifications summary, be sure to relate how your varied education—and experience—uniquely position you for an administrative role in a healthcare setting. This is your calling card.
Very few competitors will have the blend of education you possess, and, when combined with your office management, medical assistant, and front office experiences, I cannot imagine a more qualified candidate to gain entry into your chosen field. Just revamp your resume to paint a more competitive picture.
Dear Sam: I hope you can give me some advice on handling termination from a position where I was required to have carpal tunnel surgery on both hands and did not qualify for FMLA. I was only granted four weeks of leave and was told my employer would request an extension of time off. The day before my second surgery, my employer called to inform me that I was terminated if I did not come back to work the next day. I have been applying for positions and have explained the situation, but I am beginning to wonder if I am not even being considered due to the fact that I had to have surgery. – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: From reading your termination letter, nothing in it would lead a prospective employer to think your release was anything but a company ensuring they are procedurally compliant. The letter even states that you can reapply for employment, reinforcing that you were simply a victim of an unfortunate policy or rule.
I do not believe that you would be discriminated against due to carpal tunnel surgery. I am assuming you are fully recovered, as you are seeking employment. It would help if you looked at “beefing up” your resume, though, as it is very lackluster at present. Look at the content on your resume. Regardless of your roles, you still need to think of ways you differentiate yourself from your peers. If you do not do this—through presentation and focus on ways you did a great job—you will not give yourself the chance to outshine your competitors in a saturated job market. Once you look at revamping your resume, I have a feeling the surgery and departure from your last employer will be a non-issue.