Dear Sam: Although I am grateful to have a good job at a really good company, I truly desire to find a position that “gets me up in the morning.” I would love to work in the higher education field as a study abroad advisor, but while I possess the graduate degree that is often preferred, I cannot seem to overcome the lack of industry experience.
I did not realize objective statements were outdated until I read one of your recent columns! I am wondering what else, on my resume, is also outdated. Are dates hurting me? Am I not being considered due to age? Before I apply for a dream job I wanted to make sure my resume was up to par. Thank you in advance for your suggestions. — J.M.
Dear J.M.: Thank you for writing and sending your resume for review. You did in fact read correctly, objective statements are—or should be—extinct, as they do nothing to tell an employer what you can do for them. As far as the remainder of your resume, here are a few items you should consider before you apply for your next dream job.
- Engage the reader through the top third of page one. Turn your objective statement into a qualifications summary showcasing your relevant and transferable qualifications, compelling readers to bring you in for an interview. You have started to build a summary following your objective statement and have done a fantastic job highlighting some of your qualifications such as your international exposure, cultural knowledge, and language skills. Keep going on this path to connect the dots between the uniqueness of your experiences and the types of functions you would perform in your dream role.
- Balance brevity with specificity in your professional experience section. Currently, the six roles you are presenting on your resume come with a paragraph of information. There is no white space between each role, the dates are crammed onto the same line as your employers’ names and your titles, and you have essentially presented an almost one-page-long block of text. No one wants to read something that has this visual appearance; it is repelling interest, not compelling interest. Instead of weighty blocks of text, break it up with a few sentences describing your “job” and bulleted highlights of your accomplishments.
- Focus on what you did beyond the job description. A great way to highlight your value and to show you have relevant experience is to focus your content on what you did outside of your job description. While you have held titles that are very different from the roles you want in the future, using accomplishments to promote the relevance between what you have done, and what you want to do, can be a key way of overcoming lesser-related related experience and titles.
- Present the “right” amount of experience. You mentioned your fear of being disqualified due to age. When writing a resume we must include dates of experience, not doing so often paints a picture far worse than reality. But, in presenting dates, we can be a little strategic about what we present and what we omit. For instance, hiring managers expect to see about 10 to 15 years of experience—some even say 8 to 10 years—on a resume, meaning we would likely look to include positions from around 2000 forward. This does not mean however that you cannot bring in earlier experiences, but in doing so you would want to be careful as to how much experience you present and what information you give away. To highlight earlier experiences without presenting too much information, consider the byline technique. In doing this you break formatting at the end of your professional experience section and present a brief note about an earlier role typically without the dates of just that early experience. This allows you to highlight relevant experience without the fear of the dates of that experiencing adding years to your candidacy or positioning you as overqualified.
I hope these tips help you prepare the resume you are excited to submit and which hopefully opens the door to your dream opportunity.