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Notes of a Résumé Writer

By Dear Sam Modified: February 22, 2013 at 11:00 am •  Published: February 22, 2013

Communicate with brevity, value, and finesse


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. In my entire 10-year career writing résumés, objective statements have never been part of a best practices-based résumé; therefore, in 2012 your résumé should absolutely not be opening with such a section.


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. What does a statement like “marketing development” really tell a prospective employer? I would argue that such a brief statement actually communicates very little without additional context of your role and impact in that arena. The hope on your résumé is to answer questions before they arise; in essence, providing a hiring manager with a document that doesn’t evoke unanswered questions that are potentially disqualifying, but rather piques interest in your candidacy by providing enough content for the reviewer to determine you have value to offer their organization.

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