Dear Sam: I’m struggling to see why my resumes aren’t effective. I have spent time explaining what I did at each job — highlighting accomplishments — and still I don’t get a response. I even developed multiple versions with different objectives noted. Help! — Rachel
Dear Rachel: I noticed that your resumes do not contain Qualifications Summaries, and instead use valuable real estate at the top of page one presenting Objective Statements. Defining your purpose or objective is critically important to the development of this section. But instead of simply stating your objective, this section — along with everything on your resume — should be developed to sell yourself for the types of roles you are seeking.
At this stage in the hiring process, hiring managers are much more interested in what you can do for them, so an Objective Statement — which typically focuses on what you want — serves no purpose. In fact, Objective Statements became so vague and self-serving that they were removed from resumes more than 10 years ago. You are aging yourself just by having an Objective Statement on your resume.
Develop your Qualifications Summary based on a primary objective, presenting a brief summary of your key qualifiers related to your current career target. Engage the reader or screener by performing due diligence to understand the keywords for the position of interest, and infuse those keywords throughout this summary and the remainder of your resume.
I realize that most candidates struggle with this section, because it is the most difficult part to write. As a tip, start writing your resume from the bottom up, beginning with the easier sections and leading to the summary. Write the summary last so that you have a clear picture of what you have to offer your target audience.
After I write a resume, I typically have several key points from a client’s background that I remember as being most important or impressive, and this guides the development of the summary. Writing this section immediately after creating your resume also helps, as your background, qualifications and education are still fresh in your mind.
Let’s look at your Objective Statement:
“Seeking a competitive position in an organization with room for growth where I can contribute support in an administrative assistant capacity.”
Now, what is that statement really saying? It’s obvious that you are applying for the administrative assistant position. However, everyone is seeking an opportunity with room for growth so that really isn’t news to the reader. In the most important real estate on your resume, you are adding no value to your candidacy.
Instead, consider a Qualifications Summary like this:
Customer-centric administrative professional with experience juggling multiple accountabilities spanning office management, executive assistance, human resources, accounting and customer service. Extremely detail-oriented, yield additional responsibilities based on a reputation for ability to multitask, prioritize assignments and follow through on all projects. Demonstrated comfort in fast-paced, deadline-focused environments where team-based collaboration and communication are critical. Problem solver who seeks creative solutions to avoid escalations and optimize client satisfaction.
Do you see how the latter adds value to your candidacy and actually shows evidence of what you can bring to the table? Strive for something more akin to this, not only to add value to your candidacy, but also to ensure you are leveraging today’s best practices and not aging your candidacy by presenting a resume utilizing old-fashioned techniques.
If you are still struggling with this section, check out books from the library, samples on my website, or ask a peer to help you identify your key offerings and value. Best of luck to you.
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).