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Increase Your Odds With a Strong Resume

admin | 17.06.2012

1 All functional roles for benefits administration, compensation, labor relations, recruiting and staffing; environmental, health and safety, and training administration.

Reality Check: Given the choice of two candidates of equal ability, hiring managers will always prefer to interview the one with the most well constructed and attractive resume. This is one of the reasons that candidates with superb qualifications are often overlooked. And companies end up hiring from a more shallow pool of talent; a pool made up of those candidates whose experience is represented by powerfully written, visually appealing resumes. Of course, many of the best candidates also have the best resumes; and sometimes, highly qualified candidates manage to surface through word-of-mouth referral. In fact, the referral method is one of our greatest channels for presenting talented people to our client companies. But unless you can afford to rely on your “reputation,” or on the recommendation of an experienced search consultant, you’ll need more than the right qualifications to get the job you want—you’ll need a very strong resume. In today’s competitive employment market, your resume has to stand out in order to get the attention of the decision maker and create a strong impression. And later on, when you meet the prospective employer face to face, a strong resume will act as a valuable tool during the interviewing process. Truth in Advertising: The best way to prepare a dynamite resume is not to change the facts, just make them more presentable, concise and well written. This can be accomplished in two ways: [1] by strengthening (NOT lengthening!!) the content of your resume; and [2] by enhancing its appearance. Although there’s no federal regulatory agency like the FDA or FCC to act as a watchdog, QualiFind search consultants consider it to be ETHICAL COMMON SENSE to honestly and clearly document your credentials. In other words, don’t make exaggerated claims about your past. We’ve been in this business long enough to have seen many disastrous outcomes when candidates attempt to do so. We’ve seen many careers and reputations tarnished as a result. Beware that many search firms have the resume that you placed on the Internet six years ago and they can easily compare it against the new one you are writing today! Once you’ve damaged your credibility with an established search firm, you have essentially eliminated a valuable resource to your professional future. Remember, your resume is written for the employer, not for you. Its main purpose, once in the hands of the reader, is to answer the following questions: How do you present yourself to others? What have you done in the past? And what are you likely to accomplish in the future? In addition to providing a factual representation of your background, your resume serves as an advertisement. The more effective your 30-second commercial, the more the customer—the employer—will want to buy the expertise you’re selling. To help you construct a better, more powerful resume that is concise but gets you invited to an interview, here are ten points that we believe to be important elements of your resume’s content and presentation:
  • 1. Position title, job description and accomplishments. Provide your title, plus a summary explanation of your responsibilities and a more detailed summary of your accomplishments. Since job titles are often misleading or their function may vary widely from one company to another, your resume should reflect exactly what you’ve done without looking like a full-blown job description. More importantly, you will want to detail your specific and most noteworthy accomplishments. When describing your accomplishments, it is critical that you use measurable data. Example: Saved $1.5M by consolidating three processes into one and reducing direct labor headcount by 14 during fiscal year 2006.
  • 2. Clarity of dates and place. Document your work history and educational credentials accurately. Do NOT leave the reader guessing where and when you were employed, or when you earned your degree. If you will be submitting your resume to a QualiFind search consultant for consideration and you have more than one period of employment that is less than 24 months, you will also need to indicate a summary reason why you left that employer.
  • 3. Explicitness. Let your reader know the nature, size/scope and location of your past employers, and what their business is.
See example below which will combine the points in #1, 2 and 3: Director of Human Resources: February 2001 - Present ABC Corporation – Chicago, IL Industry leading manufacturer of energy-saving fluorescent lighting with $2.3B in annual sales, three manufacturing facilities and 2,500 employees in the U.S. and Mexico. Responsibilities include:

1 All functional roles for benefits administration, compensation, labor relations, recruiting and staffing; environmental, health and safety, and training administration.

2 Report to the Executive Vice President of Human Resources. Manage a staff of 27 in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Accomplishments include:

3 Saved $1.5M by consolidating three processes into one and reducing direct labor headcount by 14 during fiscal year 2006.

4 Detail. Specify some of the more technical, or involved aspects of your past work or training, especially if you’ve performed tasks of any complexity, or significance.

5 Proportion. Give appropriate attention to jobs or educational credentials according to their length, or importance to the reader. For example, if you wish to be considered for an engineering position, don’t write one paragraph describing your current engineering job, followed by three paragraphs about your summer job in Argentina as a vaquero!

6 Relevancy. Confine your information to that which is job-related or clearly demonstrates a pattern of success. Concentrate only on subject matter that addresses the needs of a specific employer or the market you are pursuing employment in.

7 Length. Fill up only a page or two. If you write more than two pages, it sends a signal to the reader that you can’t organize your thoughts, or you’re trying too hard to make a good impression. If your content is strong, you won’t need more than two pages. If you will be represented by a QualiFind search consultant, you will have the luxury of adding more than two pages of content IF your search consultant feels like the additional information is pertinent to the search process you will be participating in. For specialized or very senior roles under retained search projects, we often use a specific chronological format to communicate additional information that we feel is important to the process. We do NOT recommend that you adopt this “profile” process for an independent job search. This only works when you have an experienced search consultant representing you.

8 Spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I cannot emphasize this enough. Create an error-free document that is representative of an educated person. If you are unsure about the correctness of your writing (or if English is your second language), I strongly recommend that you consult a professional writer or editor.

9 Readability. Organize your thoughts in a clear, concise manner. No resume ever won a Nobel Prize for literature; however, a fragmented or long-winded resume will virtually assure you of a place at the back of the line or the bottom of a trash can.

10 Readability, that’s right – Readability again! Be sure to select a conventional type style, such as Times Roman or Arial, and choose a neutral background or stationery. If your resume takes too much effort to read, it may end up in the shredder, irregardless of how competitive your skills and experience are.

Finally, I suggest you write several drafts, and allow yourself time to review your work and proofread for errors. If you have a professional associate or mentor whose opinion you trust, by all means, listen to what he or she has to say. A simple critique can make the difference between you getting an interview or rejection – which can come in many forms. Warren R. Carter is a Senior Managing Partner in QualiFind and is available for comment or questions at (619) 661-2585 or via e-mail at wcarter@quali-find.com