Dear Sam: I am struggling to get any attention or response to my current resume. People look at my resume 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 resume 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 resume so I could see what you are submitting to prospective employers. In less than two seconds, I could see several issues with your resume. Let me take you through what employers will see/think when they look at your resume:
1) Uninteresting and non-differentiating design – You used a very common Microsoft Word resume 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 resume.
2) You have a major typo in the first line of your resume – did you know that 23% of hiring managers discard a resume 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 resume.
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 resume and then not explain anything about it!
Literally, these are the errors I saw in a very brief review of your resume, and ones prospective hiring managers also will see. I urge you to revamp your resume 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. I have also showcased a resume this week which you will see is for someone just like yourself seeking to paint an administrative assistant picture, yet not coming from a traditional administrative background. I hope this gives you ideas and inspiration. You can absolutely have a fantastic resume speaking to your administrative skill set; you just need to be more strategic about developing a great resume.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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).