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Dear Sam: Notes of a résumé writer

Communicate with brevity, value, and finesse
Samantha Nolan Modified: June 26, 2013 at 11:59 am •  Published: June 29, 2013

Dear Sam: I recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. I am heavily applying to a wide variety of jobs, and try to adapt my résumé to each position; however, I feel as though I am not giving enough detail. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts! – Angela

Dear Angela: Thank you for sending your résumé so I could effectively diagnose the issues. From looking at your résumé, I can confirm your fear that you are indeed being too brief with the explanation of your experience. Let me go, section by section, and highlight opportunities for improvement.

Nix the objective statement and replace with value-added content

First, you must develop a compelling qualifications summary showcasing the value you have to offer a prospective employer. Think about this section as the way you will get your foot in the door—as this is often the case with an ever-so-brief 4- to 7-second screening process—and take this opportunity to present evidence as to why you are more qualified or skilled than your competitors. Currently, and as is the case with most objective statements, the most important real estate on your résumé is not communicating anything other than what you want.

You need to present content to convey value in your experience

As you suggested, you have been so brief in the explanations of your experiences that there is little value a hiring manager could glean from your presentation. If attempting to differentiate from your competitors; imagine that a considerable percentage of your competitors, especially in a field as specialized as library science, will come to the table with similar credentials—likely an MLS degree and some related practicums or internships. If this is the case, then stating the basics or obvious aspects of your experience will do little to nothing to differentiate your candidacy.

You currently explain your three library roles—from 2009 to present—in fewer than 45 words, which not only doesn’t allow for you to disseminate key factors of each role, but also puts you at a major deficit should your résumé be screened by a computer system searching for keywords.

You need to add value to this section, incorporate full explanations of your responsibilities, and highlight key contributions or differentiating factors, all the while keeping in mind you are answering the question, “Why should I bring in Angela for an interview over her competitors?” Go through your résumé, bullet point by bullet point, and think about your statements more fully.

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