Dear Sam: I have read several of your résumé makeovers, but I guess I don't have the talent to make over mine. Despite having worked in human resources and information technology several years, I wish to leverage my degree and secure a position in the criminal justice area. I have limited related experience, and that is hindering me from getting into the field. Any suggestions? – Jackie
Dear Jackie: Let me paint a picture of your résumé for readers. Your résumé is 3 pages in length and includes 12 positions spanning 1987 to present. It opens with an objective statement and flows into your work experience. In the work experience section, you have included a handful of bullet points for each employer, each very brief with most not extending to the right side of the page. You have ended your résumé with your education and volunteer work.
There are many opportunities to improve the picture you are painting for hiring managers, Jackie, so let me highlight the top three mistakes I see on your résumé.
1. Unfocused content: Opening with an objective statement is never a good choice. Objective statements are obsolete; instead, you should focus the top third of page one of your résumé on showcasing what it is from your unique experience that could add value to prospective employers. When a hiring manager reads your résumé he/she will be asking questions like:
What does Jackie bring to the table?
Why is Jackie uniquely qualified for the role?
What is the compelling reason I need to interview Jackie?
By opening your résumé with an objective statement, you do not allow yourself the opportunity to answer these questions as the content is focused on what YOU want, not what you can do for your target audience.
2. Limited value conveyed: It is virtually impossible to convey “value” in statements which are all of three to five words long. You have sacrificed value for brevity and it is imperative you add content into the professional experience section of your résumé so your positions hold some visual and figurative “weight.”
Consider including your responsibilities in a paragraph—which hides brief sentences—and highlighting accomplishments in bullet points. Within those bullet points, be sure you are presenting a blend of not only the result(s) you achieved, but also the actions you took along the way. Do not leave the reader with unanswered questions that could result in your candidacy being too difficult to evaluate.
3. Too much information: While you have been too brief in your content, you have actually included too many of your positions. Twelve positions are a lot, even over the course of 25 or so years. Right-size your experience and present the obligatory 10-15 years of experience.
For your earliest position — which spans 9 years — think about including that in a byline fashion. To do this, simply add a sentence at the close of your résumé that states you have this additional foundational experience, but do not date that particular experience. Doing this will allow you to reference the value of that role, elsewhere on your résumé, without the fear of potentially over qualifying yourself for the target position.