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Dear Sam: My rĂ©sumĂ© is all over the place! After reading your columns, I have tried to delete some unnecessary items that dated me. However, some of the jobs that I deleted really showcased select skills. This was to include some time spent as a credit union teller (i.e., cash handling, drawer reconciliation, customer service) and 5 years as a human resources assistant (i.e., supporting the recruitment and selection process and conducting new-hire orientations).
With that said, my experience also includes several years of working in a combination of two police departments; I donâ€™t know how to mesh both the clerical and that technical side of my experience into one cohesive rĂ©sumĂ©. Iâ€™m not sure where my next opportunity is going to arise, but will be in a clerical capacity or in another law enforcement post. â€” Sydney
Dear Sydney: I was shocked when I opened your rĂ©sumĂ© and it was less than one page, including devoting at least one-third of that space to information that will not differentiate your candidacyâ€”education, volunteerism, and references. Allow me to paint a picture of your rĂ©sumĂ© to the readers:
Sydneyâ€™s rĂ©sumĂ© is in a two-column format with a smaller left column containing her name and contact information. On the right she placed her â€śEmployment History.â€ť Beneath this heading are four sections of work experience spanning 1998 to present. Within each employment section there are three-to-four one-line bullet points presenting responsibilities. The rĂ©sumĂ© then proceeds to â€śEducationâ€ť and two bullet points that relay her high school diploma and time at college. Next a â€śVolunteerismâ€ť section appears presenting Sydneyâ€™s time working for a local animal shelter as a dog walker. Lastly a â€śReferencesâ€ť section appears with 3 references listed. The rĂ©sumĂ© ends with this section and about three inches of white space. The rĂ©sumĂ© is written in Arial with a total of 351 words, 189 of which are used to describe the 12 years of experience presented.
Okay, letâ€™s analyze each sectionâ€”based on the questions I ask when critiquing and writing a rĂ©sumĂ©â€”and see what is not working well for Sydney.
Has Sydney defined her purpose? No! Sydney, has to select a targeted direction to follow. If law enforcement and administrative support are the objectives, then likely that is going to take two very different rĂ©sumĂ©s. Despite Sydney having performed a lot of administrative functions during her time with two police departments, to market herself to another police department she is going to have to sell her in-depth knowledge of law enforcement processes, her compliance work, her ability to cultivate relationships with officers and investigators, and the skills very specific to becoming a strong administrative/technical support person in that environment. If she were to present this type of rĂ©sumĂ© for a general administrative support role in a business environment, very little of that content would make sense to the audience. Having two rĂ©sumĂ©s, one far more technical and filled with law enforcement jargon than the other, will get her job search on the right track.
Has Sydney positioned her candidacy?
No! I feel as Sydney was trying to appeal to two very different audiences, she has diluted the strength of her rĂ©sumĂ©. For instance, Sydneyâ€™s rĂ©sumĂ© does not open with a qualifications summary. Without this section, the reader is forced to â€śfigure outâ€ť where her skills lay and, within just a few seconds, the reader will likely move on as he/she wonâ€™t have time to determine whether or not Sydneyâ€™s background works well for the environment. Sydney should develop a full qualifications summary presenting her notable employers, the highlights of her experience, and the skills she has mastered throughout. To include earlier experiences that would potentially date Sydneyâ€™s candidacy, she could include some of those in the summary without going into detail about the positions in the professional experience section. This is a great way to highlight past experiences that possibly do not appear in more recent roles. However, based on Sydneyâ€™s stated objectives, I believe she can more than demonstrate she is qualified for the opportunities she is interested in by focusing on the past 12 years.
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