Entries from the Job Hunter's Journal


TIPS FOR WRITING AN EFFECTIVE RESUME

The perfect resume probably has not been written but a resume does not have to be perfect, it merely has to be good enough to get you a job interview.  The following 13 items should help in your efforts to write an effective, if not perfect, resume.

  1. Never, never lie on your resume.  Even stating that you are still working for a company when you are merely collecting some type of unemployment compensation from the company is a lie.  Intentionally misleading people into believing you have a degree when you do not is a lie.  Leaving a job off the resume that you worked at for six months can be construed as a lie.  Leaving positions off the resume that are so old as to be irrelevant for the position you are applying for is usually a good idea, because; it makes the resume easier to read and, if you think you might become a victim of age discrimination, leaving old positions off the resume makes it more difficult to guess your age.
  2. Make sure all contact information is correct.  I once had an executive, making over $250,000 a year, get very angry with me because my client company would not send him his interview expense check.  When I checked into it, I found out the check had been returned to the company several times.  The candidate had an incorrect address on the resume.  I have seen many resumes with incorrect telephone numbers.  This is not as important in the email era, unless your email address is wrong also, and that is not a good thing.
  3. Make sure you have NO spelling errors on the resume.  Virtually everyone has access to word processing program with a spell checker.  If you do not, invest in a word processing program and use the spell checker.  Spelling errors send everyone who reads the resume a message that you don’t really care or you are sloppy.  I once had a candidate who after interviewing with a company felt compelled to write a thank you letter, which is normally a good thing.  Unfortunately, the thank you note was hand written and full of spelling errors.  The company’s offer letter and the candidate’s thank you note passed each other in the mail.  After receiving the thank you note, the company withdrew the offer.
  4. Talk about your accomplishment’s not the team’s accomplishments.  The team (in most cases) is not trying to get the job, you are.
  5. List accomplishments, not your job description.  The hiring company wants to know what you did to make your company more successful, not that you watered the plants every morning.  This can be very important.  I rewrote an executive candidate’s resume (for a fee) that had been out of work for six months.  The main thing I changed was his to list his accomplishments and eliminated his duties.  A few weeks later I received a letter from him stating he had 6 interviews and was deciding between 3 offers.   He also sent me an additional check.
  6. Minimize or eliminate the use of  fancy graphics.  My computer reads most of the resumes sent to me before I do and it gets very upset if it has to sift through cute winking happy faces.  Also, more and more hiring companies are reading resumes directly into data bases and bullet points and graphics make this a slow process.
  7. Do not use tables.   Tables present a whole host of problems if the recruiter has to make a change to the resume or if the company is trying to feed the resume directly into their data base.
  8. Try to keep the resume to two pages.  One page is usually too short but more that 2 page resumes often get ignored because no one has time to read more than two pages.
  9. Focus on what your can do for the company not what the company can do for you.  Remember, the company has a problem that has to be addressed or they would not be using their limited resources to make you happy.  Hopefully, the hiring process will be a win-win for both of you but remember the golden rule “he who has the gold rules”.
  10. Do not list references on your resume.  There are so many reasons not to do this that I do not want to list them here.  One of the biggest reasons not to list references is that the person you have listed as a reference may quickly become your strongest competitor for the job after the recruiter talks to him or her.
  11. Do not put your Social Security Number on your resume.   This seems obvious in this era of identity theft but I still see resumes with Social Security numbers.
  12. Do not list personal items such as hobbies, number of children, church affiliations, etc.  These can only hurt you because most Human Resource Managers are amature Psychiatrists and if they see you like to read, they automatically assume your are introverted and this could be bad if you are interviewing for the Plant Manager or sales position.  Also, deep down most companies believe you should not have a life outside the company.  If you have time for hobbies that means you could be working longer hours developing that perfect report no one is going to read.
  13. Objective statements are passé.  You have submitted your resume to the company so, obviously, you are looking for a job you can be happy performing.  Do not waste valuable resume space and the recruiter’s or Human Resources Manager’s valuable time.

Reason For Leaving

As a Third Party Recruiter, recruiting for the plastics industry, one of the least pleasant things I have to ask a job seeker is “why did you leave your last employer?”.   This question must be asked because, it is one of the first questions the company’s hiring manager or human resources representative asks us, and if the candidate has had several recent job changes, they want to know the reason for all of the recent job changes. 

I am writing this blog to suggest to unemployed job seekers, as many unemployed job seekers are now doing, to place a brief reason for each recent job change on their resume.   Reasons for being unemployed include; downsized along with 1/3 of the plant production employees, plant is closing, operations are being relocated to Asia, company has ceased doing R&D, etc.   Stating the reason for being unemployed on the resume can be a big help for the job seeker because some potential employers feel that anyone who is out of work is because of poor job performance.  The hiring manager may pass on a candidate simply because they are not currently employed, if the reason for unemployment is not included on their resume.

Obviously, some companies have used the economy as an excuse to shed poor performers but  the majority of  unemployed job seekers are unemployed because companies have to make deep cuts (sometimes deeper than they probably should have).   If you were terminated from a company for performance reasons, you might not want to include that on you resume, but if you were merely downsized, I see no reason not to include an explanation on the resume. 

There has been a great deal of upheaval in the plastics industry over the past couple of years and being unemployed in the plastics industry should no longer have the stigma attached it once did.

THE HISTORICAL RESUME

I am a Third Party Recruiter (Headhunter) specializing in finding employees for the Plastics Industry.  In today’s buyer (employer) driven market, well written resumes are even more important than ever.  Unfortunately, I continue to see many poorly written resumes.  In order to help job seekers write better resumes, I am relisting a Blog I wrote a couple of years ago.   This is a basic chronological resume in an outline format that you can use to develop your resume.  The Chronological resume is good to use for mailing, hand delivery or sending to recruiters.  This assumes you are using a word processor, which should be Microsoft Word 97 or more recent.   Adobe .pdf files are also acceptable.

 I.  PERSONAL INFORMATION
      A. YOUR NAME IN CAPITAL LETTERS  WITH BOLD PRINT
           a. Use Ariel, New Times Roman or Courier.  Nothing fancy.  
      B.  Your Mailing Address in slightly smaller type.
      C.  Your Telephone Numbers.
           a.  Home telephone number
           b.  Cell phone number
           c.   No work number.  Just too dangerous if working.
      D.  Your email address.
           a.   If you are still working, do not include your company’s email address because the company has access to it.

 II.  OBJECTIVE –  This is the most controversial part of this type of resume, and I recommend that you do not include it.
       A.  Provide an objective only if you know where resume is being sent and it matches the job.
       B.   Probably better to attach a cover letter to the resume and leave off the objective. 

III.  WORK HISTORY
        A.  List every major position since starting your career in descending order (military service is optional but should be include if it relates to the position you are appling for).
               a.  If you have worked for many years and can bunch some jobs, do so.
        B.   Show dates that jobs were worked starting with most recent.
               a.  If you had several jobs at the same company,  make sure the
                    first date covers entire time at the company.
               b.  Then provide dates for different positions held within the company.
        C.   List company where you worked in bold print.
               a.  If company name has changed, reference the new name.
        D.  Write a single sentence telling what the company manufactures or sells, this is very important.
               a.  In today’s market, this is one of the most important things you can write because companies want people who have experience in their industry.
        E.   Job title or titles
        F.   Write a brief statement of job responsibilities, do not provide a job description.
               a.  The key here is brief so you have room for accomplishments.  
        G.   List your major accomplishments!
               a.  This is the most important part of your resume.
               b.  List accomplishments using specific accomplishments, i.e. saved $2
                    million on project xxxx.
               c.  Make sure to list your accomplishments, not a team’s.  Estimate your
                    part of team savings.
               d.  Do not be afraid of looking like you are bragging.  
               e.  If  your list of accomplishement do no make you look like you are bragging, write more accomplishments.
         H.  Mention any significant awards the company may have received. 

 IV.  EDUCATION
         A.  List Degrees with the most recent first.
               a.  If you list part of a degree, make sure it does not look like you have a
                    degree.
               b.  If you have a A.S. degree and you received a B.S. in the same field,
                    do not list it.

  V.  SKILLS
        A.  Try to chose skills that relate directly to the job you think you might
              be applying for.
               a.  Do not list skills that everyone is expected to have these days.
                      i. Microsoft Word.
                     ii. Excel
         B.  Technical skills that relate to you degree(s) are best, i.e. product design, injection molding, etc.

 VI.  PERSONAL INTERESTS OR INFORMATION
        A.  Never, never list personal interests, even if you think they relate to the 
             job.
              a.  An exception might be if you know the company supports 
                   Junior Achievement, etc.
        B.  Do not mention your family on the resume.
        C.  Never list Church or Secret Society affiliations on a resume.
        D.  Never mention any physical or mental problems on the resume.
        E.  Even though it is easy to figure out, do not list age.

VII.  LIST PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
        A.  This is not a requirement but it is a good thing to do.

IIX.  DO NOT LIST REFERENCES
         A.  Just state that references will be supplied upon establishment of mutual
              interest.

Finally: The optimum length for a resume is probably two pages so expect to do several re-writes.  Also find someone that can be brutally honest and ask them to critique the resume.  This is very important.

Even GOD Has A Resume

I have been a third party recruiting doing staffing for the Plastics Industry for the last 12 years.  I receive about 100 resumes each day and after all this time I am still amazed by how poorly written so many of these resumes are.  I am not talking about the obvious mistakes such as misspellings (is it possible that there are still people in the US that have not heard of spell checkers?) but about structural problems such as listing job duties instead of accomplishments and not giving any indication about the product(s) their employer manufacturers. 

Since my past posts on resume writing appear to have gone unheeded, I am appealing to a higher power, GOD, to help resume writers.  God’s resume can be found in the first two chapters of Genesis in the Bible.   

The first thing worth noting is that GOD used a chronological format for his resume.  He carefully lists each of his six jobs or tasks and states that each one of them took a day.  Theologians can argue how long each day really was but the important thing to note is the basic format GOD used.   He did not start the first chapter of Genesis with a list of key words.  The keywords are contained within the text.

The second thing to note is that GOD told us his accomplishments intead of presenting us with  his job description.   I don’t know that a job description for being GOD would have been very informative, just as a candidate providing his or her job description is not very informative for the recruiter reading the resume.

The third thing worth noting is that GOD went to a great deal of effort to describe his products, e.g. “In the beginning GOD created the heaven and the earth.”  He went on to describe the animals, humans, etc. that he created.  Companies today want to hire individuals that understand their products and clients.  Long gone are the days that individual were hired based on their potential with the belief that they could learn everything they needed to know to make them successful.  Companies just don’t have the time to train like the use to.   Companies want to know that you can hit the ground running so showing that you are familiar with the products and customers that the company makes and serves in paramount.  So many candidates think that recruiters should be familiar with all the companies in the United States (the World?) that they do not have to provide any information about the company(s) where they have worked.  This is a big mistake because third party and corporate recruiters do not know or have the time to research every company on a resume.  If information about the candidates past companies is not on the resume the recruiter must assume the candidate does not have the requisite experience and pass over the candidate.

Also worth noting is that GOD provides the method(s) he used to create his products in Genesis, chapter 1 verse 9, “GOD spoke”.   Obviously, we cannot create planets by speaking but we can motivate people or lead product launches by speaking.  More importantly we can improve the products our company manufactures by using methods, such as, Lean Manufacturing, 5S, Six Sigma, etc. methodologies to get the job done so make sure they are included in the resume.

I know that I am a lowly third party recruiter so taking advice from me might be difficult but hopefully looking at a resume written by God will help with resume writing process.

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