Dear Sam: I feel like I send my résumé into a black hole when applying online. I submit my résumé, but rarely hear anything. I’m beginning to wonder if my résumé even arrives. When I do hear back from the company, I get an email saying the position has been filled. What am I doing wrong? — June
Dear June: Your current résumé opens with an objective statement followed by the education section, two pages of experience (listing positions back to 1994) and, at the end, sections outlining your computer skills and affiliations.
The good news: You have lots of room for improvement. Once you revamp your résumé, your job search could yield great results. Here are the areas you should address:
• Objective: Remove the objective statement; instead, present a summary of your qualifications. Based on your two fields of interest, I would recommend having two versions of the summary, one for human resources and one for accounting. Combining the two in one résumé will only diminish the effectiveness of your search. Remember, the top third of Page 1 is the most valuable real estate on your résumé. Make the most of this space by telling the reader what you offer as a candidate.
• Education: Since you graduated from college in 1998, this section should be relocated to the end of your résumé. In most cases, only recent graduates should present the education section up front. Remove your high-school information — it is assumed you graduated from high school if you attended college.
• Experience: This section needs to be more robust and tailored to the field of interest. In your most recent position, you seem to have performed both accounting and HR functions. Prioritize this information based on which résumé you are presenting — accounting or HR. Instead of focusing on your daily responsibilities, focus on your achievements. This is vital in positioning yourself ahead of the competition. Your achievements not only demonstrate you have gone above and beyond for your past employers, but also predict your ability to do the same for a future employer.
I would recommend removing the first three positions (pre-1996). By doing this, you will have more room to focus on more recent and related experiences, and you will still show an ample 11 years of experience.
Last, remove your months of employment. Presenting both the months and years of employment shows gaps in your work history — and that you have not worked since August 2008.
• Computer skills: Instead of a separate section, incorporate your technical skills into the qualifications summary. This will be especially effective when developing your accounting résumé. It is also important to note that you are proficient with Peachtree accounting software.
• Affiliations: I suggest removing this section because the affiliations you are presenting stem from personal — not professional — interests. When presenting affiliations, make sure they reinforce your image as a professional. If you are a member of any local or national accounting or human-resources organizations, you should present that information.
After painting a more strategic image of your background, I am certain you will overcome the feeling of sending your résumé into a black hole and begin generating some interest with prospective employers.
— Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and the owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Email résumé or job-search questions to email@example.com. To find out more about Nolan, visit www.ladybug-design.com.