Dear Sam: I feel like my résumé is being ignored. Most of the time, I submit my résumé online and I rarely get a response. When I do hear back, I get an email saying the position has been filled. I am pursuing the accounting and human resources fields, and I have a blend of customer service, accounts payable and receivable, and human resources experience. What am I doing wrong? - Evelyn
Dear Evelyn: Let me paint a picture of your existing résumé for readers: The résumé opens with an objective statement followed by the education section, two pages of experience listing positions back to 1994 (including a 9-year professional position with a concurrent part-time position with a big-box retailer, followed by telemarketing, cashiering, and waitressing positions), and lastly, computer skills and affiliations sections.
The good news is that you have lots of room for improvement, so your job search could potentially yield great results once you revamp your résumé. Let's go through each section to see what areas need to be addressed.
Objective: Remove your objective statement and, instead, present a summary of your qualifications. Based on your two fields of interest, I would recommend two different versions of this summary, one for HR and the other for accounting. Trying to accomplish both objectives in one résumé will only diminish its strength and the effectiveness of your search. Remember, the top third of page one is the most valuable real estate on your résumé; hence, make the most of this space by telling the reader what you offer as a candidate through a qualifications summary.
Education: Given you graduated from college in 1998, this section should be relocated to the end of your résumé. Only recent graduates, or candidates whose degree is a key qualifier, should present their education section up front. Also, remove your high school information as 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. I see in your most recent position you seem to have performed accounting and HR functions. When revamping your résumé, prioritize your responsibilities and achievements based on which résumé you are writing: accounting or human resources. Doing this will better target the hiring managers in each of those industries and avoid watering down your experience. This section of your résumé is also heavily focused on your daily responsibilities; instead, you should focus on your achievements. This information is absolutely vital in positioning yourself ahead of the competition, as it not only demonstrates that you have gone above and beyond for your past employers, it also predicts your ability to do the same for a future employer.
In terms of how much experience to present on your résumé, I do not see that your pre-1996 experience is adding any value to your candidacy at this juncture in your career. I would recommend removing the first three positions you have listed including the cashier, banquet server, and telemarketing positions. By doing this, you will have more room to focus on your more recent and related experiences, and will still be presenting an ample 11 years of experience.
Lastly in this section, please remove your months of employment. Presenting the months and years of employment only shows employment gaps and the fact you have not worked since August 2008. By removing months, you will eliminate the appearance of gaps and will not show the length of your job search (as it could be assumed you left your last position in December, not necessarily August).
Computer Skills: I would recommend incorporating your technical skills into the qualifications summary, especially when developing your accounting résumé, as it will be important to note you have proficiency with Peachtree Accounting software.
Affiliations: I would recommend removing this section as the affiliations you are presenting stem from a personal and not a professional interest. When presenting affiliations, you need to be careful to ensure they are reinforcing your image as a professional. So, if you are a member of any local or national accounting or human resources organizations, those would be wonderful to present, but it will be best to remove the hobby-related affiliations.
I am certain, after painting a more strategic image of your background, you will become a competitive candidate whose inbox will begin to be filled with letters of interest!