Trouble getting hired - bad resume or bad me?

I am 24 and have spent my entire life in school; this means that in addition to my BA I also have two Master's Degrees. But it also means that I have very little work experience to put on my resume. I have included the jobs I've had (mostly summer, holiday, and temp work) as well as the copious volunteer work I have done.

The trouble is that I still am not getting a lot of bites. I send out my resume to several different companies a day, along with cover letters detailing why I would be a great candidate, but very few offers of employment. What am I doing wrong?

My boyfriend says that employers are afraid to hire someone with more education than they have for fear that I would replace them. He thinks I should not put my graduate degrees on my resume. On the other hand, I have no solid work experience to show, and most employers only want "experienced" people to apply. What do I do?

I have considered applying at Starbucks but my pride prevents me. Any ideas?

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A couple things jump out at me....

    But first, being only 24 and already having 2 masters degrees is quite impressive. Congratulations!

    The first thing that jumps out at me is that you say, "I send out my resume to several companies a day..."

    Are these all similar companies?

    What is the field you are trying to break into?

    Do the masters degrees relate to that field in any way?

    There are some fields like law, where they like their people to be well rounded. It's not unusual to see people in law school with all kinds of degrees, things from anthropology to social studies.

    And there are some where this is not as important...

    Gettting back to what jumped out at me...

    Resumes are not typically a one size fits all, kind of thing. Myself, I have a bachelors in business, and stored on my computer, I have 8 different resumes.

    They are all mostly tailored for sales careers, but they are worded differently to stress different things.

    Also, I have never sent the same cover letter twice.

    But to cover the basics, about your resume...

    There are some things to keep in mind here.

    Most importantly, always keep in mind, "The Guy on the Other Side of the Desk."

    What this means is don't think about how you want the resume` to look, keep in mind the people that are going to be reading it. I think you know this already, but there is a point in the process where the company is looking for a reason not to hire you, as opposed to wanting to hire you.

    When you see a job opening, what do you think happens?

    That company is inundated with resumes and cover letters. They have to narrow down the number to a manageable amount of people they will call for interviews. In effect, at this point, they are looking for a reason not to hire you!

    If your resume looks like the first page of "War and Peace," they aren't going to read your novel. You want your resume to appear light and inviting to read. A lot of open space and a lot of three and four word paragraphs. If your resume looks like it will take seven seconds to read, chances are it will be read.

    Also, along with this put the important stuff first. This would be your education. They guy doing the interviewing is going to realize that at 24 and with a masters, you have been going to school. You haven't been desigining software for the space shuttle or handling multi-million dollar contracts.

    Now if you have, then put that down on your resume`!

    Just put down the things that you think will impress the person reading your resume`. He already knows you had to take biology 101, and unless you were published as a freshman, don't list the grade you received.

    After this list any outside activities that you did. You want to show him that you take initiative, that you are well rounded, that you did more than just what was required.

    And as far as your work history, at this point you don't even have to list the jobs you worked at. They guy doing the interviewing knows you have been going to school and did what you could to pay the bills.

    You could simply say something like:

    I worked to get through school. This involved waitressing, bar tending, and other various part-time employment.

    What you want to do is get the guy doing the interviewing to focus on the important stuff, and not even think about your work experience.

    Now along with this, you have your cover letter, and maybe it's time to go to plan "B."

    There are no hard and fast rules here. Maybe you can start your cover letter with something like, "How would you like to have..." and take it from there? This is typically how you write a letter of introduction when you are seinding a blind resume, meaning you don't know if they are hiring or not.

    But there's no reason why that couldn't be how you write your standard cover letter. What you want to do is get people's attention and impress them with your uniqueness.

    I am having a little problem with this next part. I don't want you to think I am flaming you because I'm not. But when you say, "...cover letters detailing why I would be a great candidate..." for some reason that hits me wrong.

    It might not be a bad idea to have someone impartial and objective read your cover letters (and not your boyfriend). I'm wondering if there's a between the lines message you are conveying.

    You don't want to say, "Hey, here I am, I've got two masters degrees, and I'm smart, and if you don't hire me your stupid!" or something to that effect.

    I know that if I was 24 and had received my bachelors and two masters, I'd have a hell of a time writing a cover letter that didn't intimate that kind of message.

    What I did when I wrote cover letters, is do a little research on the company. I usually spoke with someone that worked for them and read thier website. What I was interested in was learing about the company's philosoph, or their sales philosophy.

    Then when I wrote my cover letter, and I'd talk about my own philosopy, and wouldn't you know it? My philosopy would be almost identical to what there's was. Sneaky, eh?

    When you write a cover letter, this is where you have to give them reasons, and it's entirely possible that you aren't giving them enough reasons, or not giving them the right reasons.

    I really doubt that people are intimidated by you multiple degrees anymore. However, they might think that with the multiple degrees, you may expect more money. You don't want to lie on your resume`, but you don't necessarily have to tell them all of the truth here either.

    At age 24 most people interviewing you would expect only one masters degree and not two. It's okay if you don't mention both of them, but you have to figure this out.

    Are the two degrees going to impress, or perhaps be a red flag?

    That's what you have to figure out yourself, and adjust your resume` accordingly. For similar reasons, this is why I have eight of them.

    Also, in reading the last part of your question, I don't know how to say this other than to simply say this is an incorrect assumption. In some instances, positions do require experience, but most possitions are filled from within. To keep the pipeline filled, they will require entry-level positions.

    You weren't specific as to what the degrees are in, or what kind of position you are seeking. Therefore I couldn't be specific either, but in terms of generalties, I am hopeful I've hit on something for you.

    Good Luck!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Go with your strength. Employers for a professional person do not give a ---- what temporary or menial jobs you have had. List them on your application if you think they will give you a good reference. Obviously you have little or no meaningful JOB experience but getting the degrees was a job wasn't it and it was the most important one at the time. What did you get your degrees in? The employer will want to know that and your undergraduate GPA. Your graduate GPA is obviously 3.? or 4.0 or you wouldn't have the degree. Emphasize your thesis research.

    Remember that a resume is an advertising flier with some general format. Use bold type to emphasize important points and for God's sake do not let the thing be over one ONE ONE ONE page. Only one page please. Resumes are not a curriculum vita.

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  • 1 decade ago

    SUGGESTION 1: Find a temporary agency that places people in your line of work. Do that for awhile to gain experience and work history to put on your resume.

    A note of caution: It might be a good idea to decline any assignments to places that you would REALLY like to become permanently employed. It used to be that employers had to pay a very hefty "conversion fee" if they hired a temp worker away from the temp agency. You might talk to the temp agency about that, and get their answer in writing.

    SUGGESTION 2: Talk with the people you have done volunteer work for and ask them to help you make contacts with people who are hiring workers in your field.

    Most jobs are filled by people who have personal contacts to the people who are hiring. And nonprofit types know a lot of people -- they have to to keep the nonprofits going! So use those contacts.

    AND A QUESTION: You say you are getting "very few offers of employment." How many do you need? Don't broadshot your applications. There's no point in applying for jobs you don't want; it just means people who want and need the job are less likely to get a shot at an interview.

    Target your applications, practice interview techniques, use your contacts to get the job you want.

    Good luck in reaching your goals.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If resumes are getting it for you, try something different. Maybe go to the personell dept .of a company and apply directly face to face. What about a job agency. Some you pay for and some the employer pays for. Try net working among your friends, relatives, and former class mates. Be willing to settle for a little less money than you hoped for. You can always work your way up. The main thing is to get some experience. Hope you find a job soon.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The first and most important thing is not to get discouraged. I too am experiencing a similar situation I get my degree in May and I have very little work experience and am having a hard time finding employment. One of the most important things is not to limit yourself to a specific job or jobs geared toward your degrees. Think outside the box and don't be afraid to take an internship somewhere just to get your foot in the door. Your first job may not be your dream job, but you have to consider the potential for advancement or even just using it for experience so you are better prepared for your dream job. Hope this helps, good luck!! :)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Well, there could be many factors that might be affecting getting hired. 1) You're young and starting out... it might be tough to get hired right away. 2) You're listing summer and temp jobs. The employers look at the times spent at a job. If you don't have something longer (usually at least a year), that can make them uneasy. 3) Don't list your life story... "Sir, I worked at 50 jobs and volunteered at 100 companies and I stapled all 500 pages to my resume..." managers are busy and they don't want to sit and read your resume for an hour or so.

    Hope that helped... don't worry... you'll get hired... just relax. :)

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  • 4 years ago

    Be careful what you say about him.You could wind up in court.Did you take pictures? Have new contractor write up about what a bad job other contractor did also.And make sure you discussed bad job with contractor that did it in first place.See if he will come clean and fix it at no charge.Then if you have done all this and you get no results you can safely post bad comments about contractor.

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  • 1 decade ago

    i think ur resume is gud enough but its not very interesting for the readers make it interesting with all the names of the awards u recieved and and not too many subjects coz they think u r just doing more than what u need................

    and the main thing is keep it short they hate long resumes coz it gets boring to read..........

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "As ye think, so shall you be."

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