Dear Sam: I am writing to you because I need an impartial opinion of what is what in the job seeker world. I hope you can see what I cannot.
I am one of the many over-50 job seekers and feel I have no particular skill. I apply to anything and everything including jobs I have no experience with such as Laundry Aide-thinking they would take anyone-but not even then do I get a call for an interview. My main question is, Where does one get the experience?
I am no longer eye candy as most employers are looking for younger candidates to fill that receptionist job. My age also seems to be a factor as no one wants to offer me insurance; I have offered to work for no benefits just to get my foot in the door...and still nothing. I give up.
I am including my résumé just for a look-over from you when you have time. I would appreciate any and all comments. I may sound like I am having a pity-party, but believe me, during any job hunt, I am the one smiling and being upbeat at all times. - Anita
Dear Anita: I am so sorry you are having such a difficult time getting interviews; let's see what we can do to improve your situation.
First, I'm going to suggest you find a job search support group. I am not sure what exists in your area, but you will find a lot of social service and community organizations start support groups for their members and are open to the public. Find such a group and get involved as having support through this process, along with the networking connections, can dramatically improve your confidence and sustainability during what can often be a very trying time.
I have included a before image of your résumé in the column so I can really highlight opportunities for improvement to you and fellow readers. Of course, I removed all personal details. Let me identify some areas that could use major improvement...
You have removed all contact details other than your name and phone number. You should have an email address listed (preferred method of contact by most hiring managers) and physical address so you can validate you are a local candidate.
One of the most important pieces of a résumé is the qualifications summary, as this serves as the reader's snapshot of how you are uniquely qualified for the job. It is not true that you do not possess any skills; you just really have to take some time to define where you are headed and how your background relates. You cannot succeed in a job search in today's highly competitive and saturated job market with a one-size-fits-all résumé positioning you for anything and everything. Instead, define one to three targets and produce résumés for each.
Once you have defined your career target, then you must develop the professional experience section to market yourself for that type of opportunity. For example, if you want to look for an administrative role, then make sure you really focus on the work you did as an office assistant for the small business and with the temporary agency. Currently you really are not exploring anything but the work you did for the manufacturing organization. Other than that explanation-which spans a total of 79 words-you are summarizing all other responsibilities throughout your entire career in just 25 words! Think about this...how could any reader glean anything of value in 25 words? If you want your positions to be seen as valuable, then you must take some time to explore the responsibilities you held and what differentiates you from others presenting similar résumés for the same jobs.
In addition, you have committed a major résumé no-no in deleting all dates from your résumé. I would say that this could be the main contributor to your lack of response. In most cases, deleting all dates will force an assumption that is far worse than reality. You must place dates on your résumé; without that information, no one can tell (not even I!) when you did what. When you performed each role could also impact the strategy or résumé format that would be best suited for your background and current career target. For example, if you are really wanting an administrative role, and if your manufacturing background is dating you too much, then we may not even include that experience on your résumé. The general rule is to go back 10-15 years on your résumé with opportunities to byline previous experience without dates. The bottom line is that this section requires major attention if you want anyone to read it and understand the value you offer versus one of your competitors.
You have a great item in your education section, particularly if you are seeking an administrative role. Be sure this is highlighted in your qualifications summary in addition to your education section. If you acquired this credential recently, it's fine to keep this section up top on your résumé; but I imagine this is somewhat dated and, therefore, should not be opening your résumé.
There is little to engage your target audience-not by content or format. With hiring managers seeing hundreds if not thousands of résumés for each open position, you must do something to engage your reader. To do this well, you have to create a balance of content and design, paying attention to what you are presenting and how you are packaging your presentation. Take a look at some of the samples on my website for ideas (www.ladybug-design.com) and you will see that regardless of whether you are an entry-level or more seasoned candidate, just starting your career or a senior executive, you have to enter today's job market with a strong presentation telling your target audience what you can do and what you can add of value.
Once you take action in the above-referenced areas, you will find a much stronger-and more effective-picture of your candidacy emerge. Best of luck to you.
View Anita's original résumé at www.ladybug-design.com/blog
Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam's résumé writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).