Dear Sam: I’m really struggling! I know I have strong qualifications and could sell myself once I was in front of a hiring manager, but I can’t seem to get past the screening stage to actually meet with someone! I know my resume must be holding me back. I think part of the problem might be that I hate to sound like I’m bragging or something. Am I being too humble? — Angie
Dear Angie: From looking at your resume, I can confirm that you are indeed being too humble and too brief. As it stands, your resume does little to differentiate your candidacy and does not showcase how you have gone “above and beyond” your day-to-day responsibilities. See below for specific recommendations for improvement:
Aesthetics & Formatting
At this stage in your career, your resume should be a maximum of two pages. Your current formatting is pushing your content onto three pages unnecessarily. The one column format also does little to engage or interest the reader. Instead, you could add some creativity by using a two-column resume with keywords noted down the left side of the page to create a much fuller look to your resume and to add more visual appeal. With your line of work (which spans customer service, student advising, and education), you could also add some visual elements such as color, symbols, and testimonials from LinkedIn or letters of recommendation.
This is the area where you have the most room for improvement. Your resume currently lacks a keyword-rich summary statement. You can use this section to showcase what you can offer an employer based on your past experiences, achievements, and areas of expertise. With only 4-7 seconds to engage the reader during the screening process, it is imperative you open your resume with a summary that answers the question of “why I should hire you.” Develop this section after you have written the professional experience section of your resume, treating it like the opening to an essay or an executive summary of your experience. The summary should contain all details you can’t afford for the hiring manager not to know while evaluating your candidacy. This definitely isn’t the place to be humble!
Include only years of employment in order to minimize the appearance of gaps and frequent job hops. You should also quantify your experiences to add interest to your resume (such as showing how many people attended the events you planned, or by how much you exceeded your sales quotas), being sure to focus more on accomplishments versus daily responsibilities.
The next major pitfall of your resume is that you are severely lacking in content, with no focus on achievements. Some of your bullet points are only four or five words and merely list tasks/duties that you were responsible for. Instead, present your daily responsibilities in a succinct manner and show where you have gone above and beyond in your career. In other words, you want to clearly demonstrate what differentiates you from your competitors.
Your resume is your chance to make a strong impression on a potential hiring manager. A considerable percentage of your competitors will come to the table with similar credentials—likely the same degree and some related experiences. If this is the case, then stating the basics or obvious aspects of your experience will do little-to-nothing to differentiate your candidacy. There is no need to be afraid of sounding like you are bragging. Be proud of your accomplishments and showcase them prominently!
I hope this critique helps get you started in making the appropriate additions and improvements to your resume.