Entry-level resume triage, diagnosis and treatment

As an entry-level candidate with just a few years of experience, you should have a one-page resume.

Dear Sam: I am 21 years old, and I have 3 years of experience in administrative assistant and customer service roles. I need to really sell myself in my resume; my problem is that I do not know how. As a single mother with a toddler and one on the way, I really need a job badly. Can you point me in the right direction? – Rebecca

Dear Rebecca: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help by providing some critical guidance in revamping your resume. Let's touch on a few key areas of your resume which should be addressed.

Resume length & designAs an entry-level candidate with just a few years of experience, you should have a one-page resume. Your resume currently spills onto two pages, due to the large font size and wide margins. As an administrative specialist claiming technical proficiency, I'd like to see a more aesthetically pleasing design showcasing your Microsoft Word skills and ability to produce a well-designed document.

Objective & qualifications summaryYour objective statement is taking up important space at the top of page one, and does not tell the hiring manager anything about what you can offer. Replace this with a summary highlighting your skills and attributes. In this summary, you may want to talk about the high-volume, customer-centric environments in which you have worked. You could also note your technical skills so they are not hidden within the professional experience section. Use this section to "sell" why the hiring manager should interview (and hire) you!

Professional experienceAn effective presentation of one's experience and accomplishments typically comes in the form of a paragraph overview of his/her responsibilities followed by bulleted achievements. In your case, you presented a paragraph of your job description, and while providing this information is important, what you really want to focus the reader's attention on is where you truly contributed value. From reading your resume, I'd imagine you would have some additional highlights to present. Think about things you achieved while on the job. Did you help with any special projects? Did you receive customer commendations? Did you collaborate well with a customer service team? All of these things are areas in which you could present a more achievement-oriented statement to validate your claims in the summary and predict the contributions you could provide to your next employer.

EducationIt is assumed you have a high school diploma, so typically I would advise not to list that on your resume. In your case, as you received multiple academic honors, I would suggest pulling those items out and including them in your qualifications summary. You could say something like, "Graduated from high school in the top 10% of class, receiving numerous awards including Honor Roll, Super Honor Roll, Perfect Attendance, and Student of the Year." I would then omit an education section and relocate your community involvement work to its own section.

I am confident if you revamp your resume you will emerge as a highly competitive candidate. You have a strong background for an entry-level candidate; it just needs to be presented a little more strategically than you have done thus far.

Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at dearsam@ladybug-design.com. For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit ladybug-design.com or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).


Article Entry-level resume triage, diagnosis and treatment compiled by www.al.com

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