Monthly Archive for April, 2013

Part IV – Q&A For Creating An Outstanding Resume

Producing a strong resume is both “art” and “science.”  Our senior resume writer – Staci Collins – held an interactive Q & A session in January 2013 to de-mystify the essential resume components for the current job market.  If a career transition is in your future in 2013 or beyond, you will need a strong resume to differentiate yourself  from the masses. This blog post is the last in a 4 part series sharing practical resume do’s and dont’s that will strengthen your resume.  And, if you missed the Part I through Part III posts, just use our blog search tool above to quickly locate them.  You’ll definitely want to have the information from these 4 blogs in your resume refinement “arsenal.” 

Format-related Questions

Q:  Why is there so much contradictory advice about how a good resume should look, or what information should be in it? 

A:  Everyone just disagrees!!!  There is no single approach.  Stay away from claims and assertions, e.g., Visionary team builder. Provide quantifiable, validated hard evidence. Everything needs to be substantiated.  You need to provide proof that you CAN; otherwise you cast doubt on your overall credibility.

Examples:

-Senior Marketing Director with 20 years’ experience launching branded consumer electronics products for SONY and Panasonic into the U.S. and EMEA markets, generating over $60 MM in revenues.

-Finance Manager with 12 years’ experience in software firms, specializing in maximizing ROI on technology, saving enterprises $120 MM annually.

-Consulting Senior Manager with 8 years’ experience implementing Oracle databases in complex global health care enterprises and government-related fields, on time and on budget.

Q:  Do you prefer a general leadership profile/summary at the top of resume, or a targeted grouping of achievements?  Other?  Is it necessary to have an “Objective” Statement? If so, what goes into a good one?

A: It is not necessary to have an Objective Statement but you must have a Summary Statement.  The Summary Statement has to be very specific.

Other Questions

Q:  Resume writing and rewriting/customizing…do you recommend having it done professionally?  This could be costly. 

A:  Yes…you should have this done professionally.  It is a rigorous process, and it helps you prepare for interviews, too.  But it doesn’t have to be costly.  Your achievements are your achievements.  The rewrites are a matter of tweaking the core resume with industry specific wording after you have done the main body of work.  The history of achievements/contributions is the difficult and time consuming part of crafting a stand out resume.

Q: How do I overcome age bias?

A: This is not easy.  Some companies are looking for more senior people.  Senior people can be viewed as helpful in guiding things.  If you are more senior it’s helpful to “own” a specialty so you can position yourself as a specialist – either working as an employee or as a consultant.  Or, find something that is emerging that you can “own” and reliably deliver.

Q: What if your most recent work experience isn’t what you want to do with your life? For instance, you left a full time position and are doing contract work until you find a full time position…

A: Employers understand 2008 and its aftermath.  They “get” long term unemployment.  You can include your interim work (highlighting contributions), but make it brief so they quickly land on your prior work.  Try to find a way to make what you are currently doing seem valuable relative to the past.  Demonstrate added value as best you can.

Q:   I have a two year gap on my resume as a stay at home mom.  How should I address this gap? 

A: You could put maternity leave.  This is understandable and even admired.  A 2 year gap is not an issue.  7 years is a bigger issue.  A 13 – 14 year gap is problematic.  Meaningful volunteering – “Fundraiser” for a local youth organization generating $100 K, a 30% increase over prior year  VERSUS  ”Class Mom” for your child’s Kindergarten class —  can close the gap somewhat.  There is evidence that the longer one is out of the work force, the harder it is to re-enter, and if you do succeed you often don’t re-enter at the level or salary you left.  That being said, though, strategic volunteering can help you beat the odds.

Q: How do you mention achievements covered under a confidentiality agreement?

A: “Genericize” them.  Demonstrate your contributions by addressing the scope of the project, promotions of team members, on time delivery, on budget delivery, etc. Speak about clients in terms of their industry position, brand position, category (e.g. Fortune 200 consumer package goods manufacturer….)

Have more questions?  Tweet Staci….

 

Staci has over 15 years of experience partnering with managers at all levels to achieve their career objectives. She has worked at Accenture and Ernst & Young in change management, HR, and strategic planning. She received her MBA from the University of California – Haas School of Business, and her BA from Harvard.

To get personalized advice on your resume from Staci or inquire about Ivy Exec’s resume writing options, please email resumes@ivyexec.com

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

Part III – Q&A For Creating An Outstanding Resume

If a job search is on the horizon, you need an outstanding resume to communicate your unique, personal brand.   Our senior resume writer – Staci Collins – held an interactive Q & A session in January to answer members’ resume questions.  This Q & A session is summarized here for your reference…

Q:  How do I mention achievements without bragging?

A: Shift your resume from a responsibility focus to a contribution focus.  Highlight the problems you solved.  Highlight what you delivered.  Provide specific stories that illustrate how you communicate, how you manage, how you network.  Problem-Action-Results.

Q:  I would like to develop and advertise my “Personal Brand”.  What steps should I take? 

A: First you need to identify your brand.  This is a hard thing to do.  One often needs a “mirror” (aka, a coach, an objective counterpart) to do this.  You can start by finding lists of brand adjectives common to the industries/companies you are targeting.  For example, if you are targeting Investment Banking, your brand probably won’t have many “nurturing/caring” adjectives.  But in Health Care?  …maybe…

Q:  How do you effectively tailor your resume for different job descriptions?

A: You need to read job descriptions closely and “parrot” the terminology.  If a company describes Human Resources in terms of Human Capital Management, then use “Human Capital Management.”  You need to tailor your resume for each job you apply to.

Q:  Is a searchable human readable CV stronger than an achievements or role case-based CV in securing an interview?

A: Nothing is stronger than specific achievements.

Career Changers

Q:  How to write the resume highlighting transferable skills for a new industry?

A: If you are talking about contributions and results in your resume, they are frequently transferable when you seek the same function in a new industry. And if  you are seeking a new function, in a new industry, you can bolster your prospects by joining organizations affiliated with the new industry, seeking additional degrees/certifications (e.g., an EMBA) or even volunteering in the new industry to build your credibility and reputation.  This type of career change needs to be considered a transition vs. a quick change.  You need to be thinking 6 months, 1 year, 2 years out to accomplish this type of transition.

Q:  How do I change functions and still maintain my seniority in experience?

A: You usually have to go down a few rungs, unless you have an in-demand, emerging skill.  You can sometimes step down from a larger corporate structure to a mid-sized company or a start-up and preserve your seniority.

Q:  Do I need to define the role I want on my resume?

A: No. Companies care about what you can help them achieve.  They care less about your personal objectives.  You need to signal in your resume how companies should view you and what you can do for them.  “Senior Marketing Manager with a specialty in ABC, certifications in XYZ and a track record for MNOP…” Be specific.

Q:  I want to break into the for-profit world, having been in the non-profit world.  How do I convince the reader that I have what it takes?

A: Speak in terms of contributions and – Quantify. Quantify. Quantify.  Make sure the language you use in your resume is aligned with the language of the industry.  Gain credibility through volunteer work, apprenticeships, internships, certificate programs, etc.  The transition from for-profit to non-profit can be just as difficult.

The higher you reach the bigger and broader view you need to convey.  Career changers in particular need to research the cultures of the companies and industries they target and don a new “identity.”

Stay tuned for another blog post that will provide more answers to your questions about summary vs. objectives statements, explaining employment gaps, and more…  

Staci has over 15 years of experience partnering with managers at all levels to achieve their career objectives. She has worked at Accenture and Ernst & Young in change management, HR, and strategic planning. She received her MBA from the University of California – Haas, and BA from Harvard.

To get personalized advice on your resume from Staci or inquire about Ivy Exec’s resume writing options, please email resumes@ivyexec.com

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work