Thursday, May 23, 2013

Minor but Costly Resume Oversights, Pt I

What you say and do during the interview process matters much more than a piece of paper, but you’ve first got to get noticed and get through the door to have that chance. Think of your resume as a product brochure. it should list information in a manner that will generate interest and attract people to investigate further. So what does your resume say about you? You can agonize over the content, the length, etc. but any potential employer must be able to connect the dots and be able to follow your career progress in order to determine if he or she wants to consider you further. Often it is the small things that can make a difference about whether or not you 'll get an opportunity to demonstrate how you might be their best choice, so let me share a few items for you to consider. 

Accomplishment / Achievement Driven Resumes
I am a strong believer in accomplishment driven resumes. The reason is simple; most employers don’t get very excited if all you’ve done is produced an abbreviated version of your job description. Or, let me make the point this way; one time a hiring official said to me, referring to an applicant’s resume, “Michael, I see what they are supposed to be doing, but what have they actually done?” Anytime you can share accomplishments such as bullet points describing a project you worked on or supervised, cost saving attributed to your ideas or efforts. Or out of 100 others you ranked, where did you rank. Spotlighting finished projects ahead of deadline is another accomplishment oriented achievement. Favorable percentage increases or decreases in the results of tasks expected of you, etc. If you don’t have any, so be it, but if you do, they should be on there.  

Circumstantial Job and Position Changes
Connecting the dots between job changes is another important item. With the exception of a few years in the Army, my Dad worked for Ford Motor, at the Cleveland Stamping Plant in Walton Hills, Ohio his entire career. Fewer people have only one employer spanning their entire career, times have indeed changed and frankly speaking, I think it would be boring to work at only one place for 40 or more years.  

With layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, rebranding, etc. there are changes occurring that result in people playing musical chairs during their career. I’ve met people who have relatively stable careers, although their resume would lead you to believe something completely different. If you follow the standard template of resume writing you list you jobs in chronological order, listing Company name, title, and period of time you were employed and then listing descriptive info related to your work. For example, if you worked for a company and the company changed its name through a merger and you were promoted, on your resume you might list the employer, your title, etc. Then, your next entry might list the company’s new name, your title, etc.  

Imagine that for someone who doesn’t know you, it appears on paper that you’ve had two different jobs with separate employers; you didn’t change jobs but it looks that way. Or, maybe your job was eliminated after only a couple years, or worse maybe you worked with a company that changed names as I just described and then your job was eliminated. Can you see how your resume might confuse the hell out of someone, especially if you have been affected by something beyond your control that was not your doing? You may have been a great employee, but on paper you might appear as anything but. But alas, the solution is simple, directly below on the very next line, in a smaller italicized font in parentheses add a line that says something like (January 2012, XYZ Company merged with ABC Corporation), or (position was made redundant in February 2011), or (was promoted and transferred to AA Division of the ABC Corporation), etc. This connects the dots and eliminates confusion about things not of your own doing and beyond your control so they can instead focus more on your skills, experience and qualifications.  

Next time we’ll discuss 3 additional items to help you prevent additional unnecessary scrutiny which can block your progress.

(Pt II will be posted on Monday)

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1 comment:

  1. I read with interest the paragraph about accomplishment/achievement driven resumes. I work in retail doing truck unloading and merchandising. I have been named Associate of the Month three times and have received a rating of "exceeds expectations" on four annual performance reviews. These things are definitely on my resume (in bold). I'm so grateful for these accolades because I feel like my resume would be nothing without them. My question for anyone out there is: What are some examples of accomplishments for someone who does truck unloading and merchandising?