Dear Sam: I am struggling to get any attention or response to my current résumé. People look at my résumé and see that I have never held the specific job title I'm applying for, whether it is administrative assistant or receptionist. Although I've never held these titles, it is everything that I have been doing at my current job (plus my actual position) for the past 5 years. I also feel that the personality that people love from me isn't shining through my résumé either. I've tried numerous different attempts to get some sort of response and am at a complete loss at this point as to what to do. Is it okay to list my job title as an administrative assistant or receptionist?

- Desperate

Dear Desperate: Thanks for attaching your résumé so I could see what you are submitting to prospective employers. In less than two seconds, I could see several issues with your résumé. Let me take you through what employers will see/think when they look at your résumé: (1) Uninteresting and non-differentiating design - You used a very common Microsoft Word résumé template, so you will immediately look like many others who applied for the same job. Incidentally, I use this same template when facilitating seminars, to show how you should not design your résumé. (2) You have a major typo in the first line of your résumé - did you know that 23% of hiring managers discard a résumé with one typo? If claiming HIPAA knowledge you should spell the acronym correctly; it's not HIPPA, even though I know it sounds like it should be. (3) Poor prioritization of duties - You open with your photographer/customer service role and immediately present a bullet point about resolving customer service complaints. This will make the reader wonder how well you did your job if you spent this much time resolving complaints, especially when it seems you are the one with direct customer contact. (4) Too many short-terms jobs - You have presented two jobs that you held for just a few months, when instead you could completely omit these short-term jobs-presenting only years of employment so not to show gaps-and focus on your customer service experience in a consistent retail setting. You could title this section Related Professional Experience to ensure the strategy is not looked at as misleading. This would bring alignment and fluidity to your résumé. (5) Vacant content - Let me ask you, if you have provided no explanation of what you did for a given employer, how do you expect a prospective employer to see the value in that experience? Don't put something on your résumé and then not explain anything about it!

Literally, these are the errors I saw in a very brief review of your résumé, and ones prospective hiring managers also will see. I urge you to revamp your résumé using today's standards. You don't need to resort to changing your titles to something that isn't accurate; you just need to do a much better job translating your experiences into the language that will attract your target audience. Check out books at the library or samples on my website ( for ideas on how to do this. You can absolutely have a fantastic résumé speaking to your administrative skill set; you just need to be more strategic about developing a great résumé.

Dear Sam: I read your column every week and find it very helpful. As an adult student about to complete a bachelor's degree, I am looking for an internship for early next year. Would you suggest the same résumé for internship applications as for job applications? How can educational accomplishments be highlighted without sounding braggy-a good GPA, for example?

- LouAnn

Dear LouAnn: Yes, you would develop the same type of résumé for an internship application as for a professional opportunity. Realize that your résumé is your brochure for your product-YOU!-so it must be a self-promotion tool. Understand, however, that it should also be an honest representation of your candidacy, promoting what you have to offer that may differentiate you from other candidates. So if you have a GPA above a 3.5, then you would want to include it on your résumé. To do this, you would place your GPA in your education section as well as possibly note that you graduated cum laude. Other academic achievements can be presented in an Academic Highlights section where you could present such items as scholarships, special projects, class rankings, etc. Don't underrepresent yourself on your résumé, as I can guarantee you that some of your competitors are using their résumés as true marketing documents, and when done so effectively, someone who isn't marketing the best they have to offer doesn't stand a chance in the screening process. Best to you.



Dear Sam: How can I list two different jobs with the same company on my resume?

- Jim

Dear Jim: There are a couple of different ways you can approach this. One is to list your employer and the timeframe of your employment, followed by your most recent title and the timeframe you held that. You would then explain the position and your accomplishments for that role, adding another section beneath with your earlier title, timeframe you held that role, and that position's responsibilities and achievements. Here is what this would look like:

Nolan Enterprises, Los Angeles, CA (2000-present)

VP of Marketing (2005-present)

Explain responsibilities and achievements here...

Marketing Manager (2000-2005)

Explain responsibilities and achievements here...

The second way to list two jobs with the same company, and best suited when your jobs are aligned with one another with the most recent simply being a higher level of accountability, is to list both of your titles on the same line with the years you held each position noted. You would then go on to explain your highest level of accountability and accomplishments underneath both titles. Doing it that way would look like this:

Nolan Enterprises, Los Angeles, CA (2000-present)

VP of Marketing (2005-present); Marketing Manager (2000-2005)

Explain responsibilities and achievements here...

Best of luck to you.

Dear Sam: I resigned from a high-profile job for personal reasons. Is it okay to generically tell prospective employers that I resigned for personal reasons and not go into detail about the reasons for my resignation?

- Jenny

Dear Jenny: Yes, you could tell a prospective employer that you resigned for personal reasons, but realize that this will leave them wondering if these personal reasons are going to present themselves as issues if they should choose to employ your services. I'd suggest an answer not so vague, if at all possible, to ensure the prospective employer feels confident you will be able to dedicate yourself to the company's needs while at work.

The key to explaining the reason for leaving a past employer is to put a positive spin on the situation. Make sure whatever you say never puts you or your past employer in a negative light, ensuring your nonverbal cues are matching your verbal account of what happened. And, of course, be sure your résumé is really promoting your value-through full exploration of past accomplishments, particularly with the employer in question-so the fact you resigned from your last role does not play the decisive role in whether or not you progress through the hiring process.