Dear Sam: I would like to get your opinion on how to improve my résumé. I am 55 years old with 20 years of management experience in the food and landscape industries. I have a degree in landscape design/build. I have applied for numerous positions that are suited to my qualifications, skills, and experiences-both in-person and online-but the majority of the time I get zero response. When I have received a response I am told I am overqualified. Would it be more effective to format my résumé differently to get more responses and interviews? - Chris
Dear Chris: From a review of your résumé I can see some areas in which you are following the appropriate strategies and others areas that have opportunity for improvement. Let me paint a picture of your résumé for readers...
Your résumé opens with an objective statement communicating you are seeking a challenging position with a company where you have the opportunity for growth. It follows with a summary stating you are an experienced manager, accompanied by 7 bullet points which present your areas of management experience. Next you present your technical skills followed by exploration of 12 years of professional experience and your associate's degree.
Okay, let's look at what's right and what's wrong.
Opening your résumé with an objective statement is not necessary and a waste of the most valuable real estate on your résumé. Look at your objective statement, does it tell the employer what you can do for them? No. It tells them what you want, something that does not need to be communicated at this stage in the game. Remove the statement and move the qualifications summary up on your résumé.
Your summary is a good start on highlighting your key value offerings. Based on the feedback you have received I would just ask you to make sure the summary is aligned with the requirements for the positions you are seeking. If you are being told you are overqualified I imagine it is due to what you have in the summary not the professional experience section. I say this as the professional experience section is really quite brief and definitely would not over qualify you for a management role; so, it is the summary that is throwing people off, possibly due to the language, Experienced Manager with multiple years of leadership, technical support and training in the customer service field. Potentially the reader hears multiple years and feels that represents more than the 3-5 or 5-7 years they want. Review the types of positions you are seeking and see how much experience most of them are requiring, building your summary to present a competitive set of qualifications. Positioning your candidacy at the right level will prevent you're overqualified responses.
Presenting your technical skills next is not an appropriate choice, especially as they are basic and will be assumed to encompass MS Office programs. Relocate this section to the end of your résumé.
Your professional experience section needs a lot of attention. Do you know you have described 12 years of professional experience in only 170 words? You should not be able to present that much experience, and the value you contributed, in that few words. And, out of a total of 12 bullet points, only 2 are accomplishments and both are buried in the middle or at the end of their respective employer's section. What's more, you have presented a position you held for 18 months with the statement, same as above, telling employers you did not contribute any value at this employer and lack the enthusiasm or interest to try and explain it differently than your most recent position. While I am sure this isn't what you were thinking, this is what will be assumed, and if you show a lack of interest in developing your résumé, the reader will show a lack of interest in reviewing it. Lastly, you have listed the first 4 positions presented with no details of what you did in each role, making me question if they should even appear on your résumé if you don't feel they warrant any explanation.
I urge you to review each position you have held and define not only your responsibilities (what was on your job description) but your accomplishments (where you contributed value above and beyond your responsibilities). You should present a blend of each, being sure to highlight accomplishments more prominently as a way to predict the value you are positioned to contribute to your next employer. Let's look at one of your accomplishments: Reported and worked with the president of company and increased revenue from $90,000 budget to $142,000 in 2001. The result of your work is presented but the actions you took to achieve the result are not. Explore your accomplishments differently, presenting the result and some of the actions taken to achieve it. For example: Catapulted revenue 57% in 2001 by capturing a key commercial account, cultivating relationships with existing clients, and leading a team in providing exceptional customer service and support.
I hope you can see your résumé has the potential to be great and open the doors for the positions you are interested in. Best of luck to you.
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).