Dear Sam: I am getting very discouraged as my résumé is not generating responses. I have sent out close to 800 applications in the past 2 months and not one has resulted in an interview, only countless letters that my information was received, would be reviewed, and I would be contacted if I was a good fit. I was a good fit for a lot of those opportunities and I don’t understand why the reader can’t see that. I just need a job! What am I doing wrong? – Dave
Dear Dave: From a review of your résumé I can see the vital flaw in your approach—you are trying to do far too much with one résumé. I can’t imagine any candidate being a great fit for 800 positions in 2 months, so what that tells me is that your desperation is making you apply for any position that you could be remotely qualified for. Unfortunately in the 7 seconds a résumé has to screen you in for an opportunity, the reader clearly does not have the time to figure out how your skills and experiences translate into what they need. Instead, you have to build a résumé that explicitly shows and tells the reader why you are the perfectly qualified candidate. In your case this will mean you first have to pinpoint your primary target, without which you cannot possibly create an effective résumé. You may have to retarget your résumé for other types of opportunities, but starting with one objective in mind will allow you to highlight the pieces of your background and skill set that best match the requirements for the positions you are interested in. You will find with this new focus you won’t need to send out 800 résumés as a more targeted approach is sure to yield stronger responses. Take a look at the before and after résumé (if not shown view on my blog at ladybug-design.com/blog), can you “see” the value of the candidate in the “before” version? How about the “after” version? I show this sample as the “before” version is very similar to yours in that it presents general descriptions of your jobs and nothing about the value you contributed. A presentation like the “before” version won’t yield any traction in today’s market. As there are so many more candidates competing for fewer jobs, your résumé has to be a strategic, targeted, and engaging presentation of your background in order to stand a chance.
Dear Sam: I am 44 years old and looking for a job. I am working on updating my résumé and was wondering how to list my education. I graduated from high school and attended college for just one year before going to work for a local manufacturer. I worked my way up from a line associate to an Assistant Manager in the Stamping Department before I was let go last year. I have more than 10 years of management experience but no college degree. How much (if any) of my education should I list on my résumé? Should I put down that I attended college for one year but did not graduate or just leave it off all together? – Jay
Dear Jay: So many of my clients are in exactly your position, and typically, I will not include an education section on their résumés. The rationale for omitting is that by presenting an education section all you will do is point out a qualification you do not possess, thereby giving the reader a way to screen you out. Given the first year of college is focused on general education requirements, your studies likely did not provide you with specific knowledge related to your current career targets, so omitting all together is likely the most appropriate strategy. If you do find yourself applying for positions that really stress the need for a high school diploma, making no mention of the need for any college, I would go ahead and present the year in college to ensure the reader understands you possess the required diploma, but only do that for positions where they may be unsure that you have a diploma unless you state it as such.
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