Saturday, February 21, 2009

Laid Off? Developing Your Marketing Piece- Your Resume

Understand that for every foot between New York and California, there has been a book written about writing your resume. Some were written by people who are writers. Some written by people who saw a chance to use some common sense and make some money. Others were written by professionals in the business. Obviously in a blog, RecruiterGuy (who has been in the recruitment business since 1981) cannot go into the detail a book would give. However we can go over the basics to help you get back to work.

One of the most important basics to understand is that the recruiting process is a sales process. In the RecruiterGuy presentations on the recruitment process from both sides of the desk, I subtitle the presentation, “Recruiting Is Sales”.

If the recruitment process is a sales process, then your resume is your marketing piece. As such, you need to include your accomplishments, especially for the past 5 years. This is not the time to worry about “bragging” as some candidates have said to me during career counseling. The resume also serves as the jump off point during your interview. If your accomplishments are not in your resume, they may not be discussed. The convention in resume writing is to write your resume in the third person, as if someone were writing about you and drop the pronouns. You also write your resume in past tense, even the responsibilities you have in your current position.

Everyone who counsels candidates on resume writing has their own prejudices on the format. These are the essentials: Keep it simple and easy to read. If you are successful here, you are more likely to attract the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager. After all, what do they typically look for in a candidate? Excellent communication skills.

RecruiterGuy has another important rule – Keep Your Contact Information in a Plain, Easy to Read Format. None of that fancy stuff like panels/boxes, bullet points/hyphens/cedillas between addresses and phone numbers. Also ensure your contact information is in the body of the resume, not the header. Why? Today most companies, including RecruiterGuy.com, store your resume in an applicant tracking system. The Optical Character Reading (OCR) software may not be able to understand the fancy stuff and your resume will go into the manual loading process. That means that it may never get into the applicant tracking system. If it does not get into the applicant tracking system, no one will read it and that equals no interview.

What format is my prejudice? I like to see your name and contact information centered at the top of your resume (bold is nice).

Then I like to see Summary: (bold) justified on the left margin. In your summary, list headlines of some of your important accomplishments – It would look something like this –
Summary: Saved company $150,000 by restructuring procurement process. Or, Consistently was 125% of quota in past 5 years.

You may add more details in the body of your resume in the Professional Experience area.

If you graduated from college, Education: (bold) would be next, also justified on the left margin. List your most recent degree first. Then follow below with other degrees (if you earned them) in reverse order below – most recent first. Here is a HUGE caution. Degrees are almost the easiest information to verify on a resume. If you did not get the last two PE credits, the college still believes you need to earn them before you get your degree. If you lie about your degree and are caught – and most likely today you will be caught – you will get fired. That’s not something that you will want to discuss in your next interview.

Then write Professional Experience: (bold) justified on left column. Below Professional Experience, write the name of your current/Last employers (bold/left justified) and your dates of employment (bold/right justified). Below your employer’s name write your title (bold/left justified), followed by your most recent position and work backwards. If you have worked with the same company for a long time and had several positions within the company. Write the name of your employer (bold/left justified) and your total dates of employment (bold/right justified). Skip a line and write your current/last title (bold/left justified) and your dates in that position (bold/right justified).

Understand that your information in the body describing responsibilities is not bold. When writing a resume, always begin sentences with action verbs in the past tense. Never begin a sentence with “Have worked”. Begin the sentence “Worked”. Write your resume with your responsibilities in paragraph format and accomplishments list with bullet points. Only list a few important accomplishments with bullet points for each position. Otherwise, in a resume with many bullet points, your primary accomplishments may be overlooked.

This is very important! Do not put Any personal information in your resume!! Like it or not, people use all of the information that you give them to make a decision whether you are a fit for their position or not. While companies may not legally discriminate against you for personal information, you will never know what helped them make their decision if you add it in.

You may add in your work in associations, particularly if you were a leader.

Once you finish your resume, read it out loud word by word. Then read it again backwards out loud. Then read it a third time out loud forward. Be aware that “form” and “from” both make it successfully through spell check. There are many other words that match up that way – fan/fun, chick/chuck, at/it, etc. Once you are totally satisfied it is perfect, ask someone who did not help you write your resume to edit it for you. Only then is it almost safe to give to a company – just read it aloud one more time. Remember, your resume is your representation of you. If it is written carelessly, that is a reflection of your work.

In two days, we will discuss how to network your way into your next job and avoid the black holes of Internet postings.