Dear Sam: I was recently laid off after spending 33 years with the same company. I was recruited from college in 1980, so I have never had to write a resume or go through the interview process. I have no idea where to start. Can you tell me where to begin? - Pat
Dear Sam: I have been applying for positions without success, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be doing something wrong. I have 35 years of teaching experience, 13 years of administrative experience, a BA, MA, a doctorate in educational leadership and a current Ohio teaching license.
Several years ago, a professional advised me to remove dates from my resume, and I revised it according to her suggestions. There is a job that recently opened up, for which I have the exact experience and background they’re looking for. I have applied for so many jobs, and I want to get it right this time. What can I do differently to maximize my chances? — K
Dear K: I was shocked when I opened your resume and saw it was only one page in length! I expected a multipage document explaining all of your experience and credentials. I can see several reasons why your resume isn’t opening doors.
Let’s review a few of the key points you need to address — by addressing some of the common questions I receive — to guide you in the redevelopment of your resume.
Should I remove dates? No.The only time you remove dates from your resume is from your early experience in order to avoid unnecessarily aging yourself. You never want to do that for your entire career. Otherwise, hiring managers will be left with too many unanswered questions.
Think about dating your most recent experiences and bylining your earliest experiences. This means presenting the earliest experiences at the end of your professional experience section in a brief one- or two-sentence statement. Doing this will allow you to incorporate some of the value-added experience on your resume but avoid adding years to your candidacy.
Do hiring managers really want more than one page? Yes. Sure, when you are an entry-level candidate with limited experience, one would expect that experience to fit on one page. But, when you have 30-plus years of experience, it should not be able to fit on one page.
By presenting your entire career in fewer than 150 words, you have sacrificed value for brevity. You have written your resume as if it were a list of the functions performed. In doing so, you have not expounded on anything in your career, there is no presentation of your key contributions, nor is there an opportunity to translate your experiences to a new environment.
Should I create a general resume for multiple opportunities? No. An untargeted resume does not get results. It also affects your self-esteem as you may feel you are qualified for a job, apply for it, and get no response from the company. In this vicious cycle, you put yourself out there knowing you are qualified, yet when you hear nothing or receive a rejection letter, you start to question yourself and the qualifications you believe you have.
You must target. Translate your experiences to your desired audience. And, paint a picture of your candidacy that is easily understood and that doesn’t require a hiring manager to figure out who you are and how you fit.
Can I omit certain from my resume if they do not support my candidacy? Yes. Your resume is not an application for employment. It is a strategic image of what you have done that positions you for what you now want to do. Similar to a brochure for a product, it should tout your features and benefits and tell employers why they should “buy” you!
You can absolutely omit select aspects of your experience or education if you feel doing so would present a more right-sized image of your candidacy. I am not telling you to change facts. But if it benefits you more to omit something, that’s OK. A lot of candidates do not present doctoral degrees for fear of being seen as being overqualified. Likewise, it is rare to present 30 years of experience on a resume for the same reason.
I hope this provides you with some clarity and actionable items to address to create the winning resume I know you can have.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).