Please constructively critique my (anonymized) resume
January 18, 2015 7:26 AM   Subscribe

TLDR: The title pretty much says it all; I'm seeking feedback on my resume. It's functional in design. Please suggest improvements. I've posted an anonymized version on Imgur for this question. (Yes, I will be deleting the resume image afterward.)

I've done several resumes for other people; all received compliments and resulted in jobs quite quickly. There are non-relevant circumstances that make me quite anxious when people read "personal" writing of mine. (Generally fiction, but it apparently applies to my resume, too.) So I have no confidence that I can objectively evaluate it myself.

Possible target employment: virtual assistant, telephone or chat-based customer service, social media, writing, editing... if you have other suggestions, I'm all ears.

To hopefully head off a couple questions:
- The first experience listed is as an independent contractor.
- The second experience, cook, is currently part-time. This is the type of work I want OUT of.
- I realize I've listed more than the often-recommended 10 years of employment history; I've done so because the older jobs were more inline with what I wish to find. The question is, SHOULD it be done this way?
- Homeschool mom (which is why I've remained at the not-so-desirable job)
- The early jobs were when children were young, as I was newly married, attending school, and then divorce and the aftermath.
- In case it matters, I'm 38. In person, people frequently assume I'm closer to 30. My voice sounds young, but I have a good phone voice.
- Education. Sigh. No, I don't have the bachelor's done, and I am not able to work on it at this time. The school listed is only the most recent - there are multiple schools (and majors) prior to that.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
While the document is very attractive, it's WAY too formatted and hard to read for how things are currently scanned into computerized applications. The information is not well organized and an HR person will not take the time to scan the sides and then the guts looking for the information they need.

Remove the (temp) information. At this stage of the game, it's not necessary. Don't put Homeschooling on anything. Again, not relevant and some people view it negatively. Don't give people a chance to eliminate you because of bias.

Get rid of the current Cook job. I doubt it's relevant experience to any position you want now. Think of another vocation you've been doing for the time you've been a Cook. Perhaps you were working in a family business, or rearing children or working as a freelancer or running your own business.

In fact, I might remove your two most recent jobs and put, Freelance Writer. What you do to pay the bills isn't really important to a potential employer, they want to know about your skills and how they translate to the job they need done.

Do a much simpler and more traditional layout. Get rid of the lines and the dual columns. When applying for positions one uploads the resume and the information is extracted into the on-line application.

Get rid of everything under Personal Highlights. Sentences beginning with 'I' do not belong on a resume. Put all of that stuff in a cover letter if you must. Move the accomplishments and skills and competencies under specific positions. List relevant and desirable skills under PROFILE.

I put my Name, Cell Phone, Email, and LinkedIn profile address, centered in the header of a standard Word document.


Customer Service and Hospitality industry professional with nearly twenty years of experience
- Microsoft Office Suite of products
- ACD and MultiLine telephony equipment
- Etc
- Etc
- Etc


COMPANY, City, State
Month, Year to Month, Year
One sentence summarizing the general experience
- Skill or accomplishment
- Skill or accomplishment
- Skill or accomplishment


Actual Major (not Liberal Studies)

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:55 AM on January 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Ditch the functional resume and go chronological. If you search the resume-related AskMe's, you'll see all the feedback from hiring managers (like myself) who say that there's something about the functional format that leads me to assume you're trying to hide something, and that's not what you want to convey.

Have you been a "homeschool mom" for all or most of the time you've also been a cook? If so, list "Homeschooling Parent" as a job, and remove the cook position. In your bullet points, you can note that you've also done other miscellaneous work during this period, without being specific.

With the cook position gone, every other job you've listed is directly relevant to the positions you're going after. Use your bullet points under each listing (in your now chronological format resume) to give examples of "Situation - Action - Result" that highlight the core competencies, personal highlights, accomplishments, and skills that you've listed elsewhere. ("In this situation, I took this action, which led to this result.")

Now that you've done that, remove those sections of your resume (you actually should have done this earlier when you transitioned from functional to chronological, but just in case).

It's totally fine to list more than 10 years of experience. What's important is that the experience you list is relevant and applicable to the jobs you're applying for. Also, don't feel constrained to one page - you have more than enough experience to justify two pages.

Under your education section, remove the credit count, and rewrite it as "Coursework toward a BA in XYZ, University Name" or whatever. Few people know how many credits it takes to get a specific degree (and those who do know that in most cases, it's less than you've taken, which will raise some red flags).

Also, have you taken any trainings or professional development courses in your career? Add those in under education, and rename that section of your resume to "Education and Training."

Lastly, add a "Summary" section at the very top, written specifically for each job you're applying to. Show the direct connection between what you've done in your career, and what the position calls for. That'll help the reviewer draw links between their needs and your experience and skills, which should start building confidence in your being the right candidate for the job.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:57 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

- Remove the personal highlights off the resume. People care what you can do for them, not how the job fulfills your needs
- List each achievement under the job title. Don't make the hiring manager think.
- Did you increase followers and increase engagement for those social media accounts? If so, add that and put how much percentage
- For desktop publishing, put names of software e.g. Adobe Photoshop/InDesign/Illustrator. For newsletter creation, put names of application e.g. MailChimp
- Regarding SEO, can you show you increased site traffic?
posted by saturdaymornings at 7:59 AM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Remove your address. Not necessary or germaine to the position you are applying for.
posted by Draccy at 8:08 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree that it would be good move to a standard, chronological resume format, with achievements listed under each position. Try to list accomplishments that show your skills instead of just listing the skills. I would browse through the "resumes" tag over at Ask A Manager - Alison gives excellent advices.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

The software list seems strange to me. What is it about Dropbox you know how to do?
posted by k8t at 8:11 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would get rid of both "accomplishments" sections and put the accomplishments under the jobs they belong to. Most of the personal accomplishments section seems more along the lines of stuff that should be in a cover letter or that you should cover in an interview. You might want to try breaking up the experience into a "relevant experience" and "additional experience" section.

A lot of people will make a 2-4 page "master resume" and, when they are actually applying for a job, they take out the stuff that's irrelevant for that job.

And, yeah - I have never heard of a hiring manager that likes functional resumes. Maybe they're wrong to hate them, but they haaaaaate them.
posted by mskyle at 8:25 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Avoid statements such as that you learn quickly, that if you don't know you'll find out, that you can multitask, etc. EVERYONE says those things, so they don't mean much. It's better to be able to demonstrate that you can learn quickly (for example) in your cover letter ("Within a week of being hired by Y company, I had already learn Q, Z, and R software that I didn't know previously...")
posted by joycehealy at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

Reading your resume left me a bit unclear as to what you want and who you are. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that I am also not entirely clear what you can do for me. I get a sense that you can post updates on my social media accounts and I am sure you can do a lot more than that. But what that might be does not jump out at me. So I am forced to re-read and think and life's too short.

I am not a hiring manager. But I like information to be clear and to the point. So work out what story you want to tell and tell it. Make sure there's a clear plotline and give me the highlights. You can fill in the details during the interview. And don't confuse the plotline by hinting at all all the other things you may (not) be able to do. Either I have a specific position I want to fill or not.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2015

I am a manager and I've done some hiring and looking at resumes...

I agree, the personal highlights are too vague and lack buzzwords that make me care. If I'm a manager, I look at that section and think "So what? You want me to hire you because of this?" Also, every sentence starts with "I..." Resumes are not supposed to be written in first-person -- always third-person. It looks very unprofessional.

Your accomplishments are a little vague. They lack metrics and specifics, and in some cases it sounds like you merely met expectations rather than exceeded them. Unless they are actual accomplishments, remove them.

I would remove both "personal highlights" and "accomplishments" and instead add descriptions for each of your positions. Then you can get into what exactly you did and highlight any accomplishments there. I look at 911 dispatcher and I think, "Well, that job has no relevance to whatever you're applying for." But maybe not. You tell me. With my resume, I have a lot of varied experience and I have applied for different kinds of jobs. I change my resume's job descriptions to highlight certain aspects of my experience depending on which job I am applying for.

Remove "cook" from your resume. You don't need it because there is no gap there -- during the same timeframe, you are also an "independent reviewer." (Which also, seriously? "Independent reviewer?" Is that your title or did you choose that? Try "copyeditor" or something that sounds less made-up.) Assuming you want a professional position, cook just sounds really low-level -- especially since it's a fast food place. I saw someone put Pizza Hut on their resume once and I automatically trashed it. Not only is it totally irrelevant for an office job, it seems like poor judgement to even include it.

I don't mind that column on the left, but it looks like there's a lot of white space. I would move the divider closer to the left to fit the text in there a bit closer, and expand the info on the right.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:04 PM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

You need to remove the "Applications" section. Those sections are great for people who have specialized skill sets (proficiency in statistical software packages, advanced design software, etc.) but look silly when your computer skills include things like Word and Dropbox.

For the "Online Skills" section, you need to remove Email Handling, Internet Research, and the four items under Social Media. Everyone knows how to do those things.

The column on the left doesn't bug me, but since you're using a functional format you need to make your competencies easier to locate and read. Right now the focus is on the right-hand side of the page, which isn't all that strong.

Don't take the advice above about changing your job title on your resume. That's dishonest. Just put your real job title, even if it isn't particularly sexy.

I do think you can and should strike the Cook position, since it's not in line with what you're hoping to do next.

Finally, I can't tell how anonymized the left-hand column is. Everyone says they are good at multi-tasking, time management, etc. - those just look like fluff. Better to include concrete examples wherever possible.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:19 PM on January 18, 2015

Definitely go to a regular chronological resume. Functional resumes look like you have something to hide.

For each job, focus on your accomplishments. Add more. The first one you have is great. Use numbers if you can. Pageviews for your blog articles, social media engagement stats, etc.

Skills sections are great to have, but I'd reduce a little bit because it looks like overkill. Some of your "core competencies" sounds fluffy, like multi-tasking, time management, meets deadlines, and works independently.

You need to rework your "applications" section since those are all general office apps. The only time I'd leave the ones you have listed in is if you're applying to a large institution/company that uses one of those horrible application systems that will be scanning your resume for keywords, and only if they specifically mention software like MS Word in the job posting. You need to add software that's going to be relevant to the positions you're applying to. You mention in the "online skills" section that you've done some marketing functions - have you used email marketing software, social media management software, CRMs, etc?

Your "personal highlights" would better go in a cover letter.

Although yours looks great on one page, you have enough experience that you can use two pages if you add more relevant details to each position.

I'd also take off "cook" since it overlaps timewise, and the skills probably don't transfer to your desired positions.

I am borderline obsessed with Ask a Manager. She has great advice on job hunting, applying, interviewing, resumes, etc.
posted by radioamy at 4:47 PM on January 18, 2015

I think you are combining too much disparate stuff in one resume. I would make a different resume for each different field you are aiming for, such as virtual assistant, customer service, social media, writing and editing. That is essentially what I do.
posted by maurreen at 8:56 PM on January 18, 2015

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