Resume and cover letter - How good are yours?

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Kevin H

Standardization

My very first thought - use a standardized form, get a standardized employee. I recently filled out a web based application - one of the questions was whether you had used/implemented TQM - an older "flavor of the month". Answer options were yes or no. If I answer truthfully, I've never worked for a company using the TQM philososphy. I've worked for other companies using different philosphies, or parts of them, and have applied all of the principles of TQM in several jobs.

I believe this approach will make it much easier for an HR department to justify exclusion of a candidate, and will probably stand up better in a court if they were ever sued for excluding candidates with a given age, race, gender, or ethnic background. It's :ca: , not a way to identify and select the superior candidate.

It's not easy selcting a good employee - at a prior employer I was selected to be part of an interview team for potential new hires into a unionized (but non-USW) steel mill. All the interviewers were supervisors who potentially could end up with the candidate at some time in their career, and HR supplied scripted question and answer sheets for us with very, very thorough questions - some of the best I've seen sitting on either side of the table. I saw some very good young people seeking employment with the company. Sixteen years ago, at a different company I witnessed a fantastic flameout/failure of the selection process - an engineer was hired (I'm assuming his references all checked out) in about 6 months he ran up about $30,000 on the corporate Amex card before he was terminated. Rumor had it the company ended up eating most of it.

The approach listed also makes an assumption that all/most important aspects of the position can be quantified adequately by the person setting up the software. Anyone want to take bets on that occuring at a 90% correct rate?
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
I sure have more fears about the downsides of the proposed process than I have about how good it will be for employees. It certainly will be good for HR departments -(the bosses, that is; all the clerks will be fired as superfluous.)

I agree with
Kevin H said:
My very first thought - use a standardized form, get a standardized employee. I recently filled out a web based application - one of the questions was whether you had used/implemented TQM - an older "flavor of the month". Answer options were yes or no. If I answer truthfully, I've never worked for a company using the TQM philososphy. I've worked for other companies using different philosphies, or parts of them, and have applied all of the principles of TQM in several jobs.
I'm still seeing lots of job ads for "experienced with QS9000" in the face of TS16949; also still seeing some ads that include
"MIL-I-45208A Inspection System Requirements" as one of the job functions listed.:frust: I would be tickled pink if I saw TQM - there are some European and Asian companies that still include that. It is also considered a factor in the Deming Award in Japan. (Different TQM than "our" flavor of the month.)
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Cari Spears said:
I wouldn't want to work for anyone unlucky enough to throw my resume away. :tg:
Welcome to the cove, Fast One - a little belated. :bigwave:
Sorry to say, if you throw your resume into the pile with all the other resumes, LUCK has everything to do with it, for both employer and employee candidate. Please review our companion thread:
the "Gatekeeper" thread: Tips to get past the "gatekeeper" when job hunting
to learn some techniques to help you avoid being in either "unlucky" group, employer or candidate.
 
T

techrat

Does format matter?

I have been starting to get myself out into the Job market recently and have been doing many of the actions that have been suggested in this thread. I got to thinking about how to best present my resume as far as the format goes. From my experience on the hiring side of the game, it seems that chronological is the norm. Anyone have any thoughts on how to best layout the document. Include ideas on general flow of the information that is presented. Please include thoughts on the extent of detail on education and certifications etc that is appropriate. Specific achievements such as patents awarded I would suspect have an appropriate place in the document. Any thoughts on these areas would be appreciated.
I can certainly write volumes on accomplishments and how my experience could be applied to a variety of different companies/situations. I am struggling some with how much detail to provide. I am also struggling with the "voice" and attitude of the resume. Specifically, should the feel of the resume be very objective and rigid ("Just the facts") or is there a level of personality that should show through in the presentation.
I realize that there are no perfect answers for these questions but would be interested in what the various opinions on these subjects are. Thanks!
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Here's the deal:

Tailor each resume you send to the job opening known to be available OR
for the job opening you hope to create.

If you feel that the background and experience of creating and gaining patents for innovations is going to help in the target position, by all means wax eloquent about the ones you have, but be sure to tie the fact that you have these patents with how you can help the target organization. If not, the mention of your patents may just muddy the water and give a false impression you want more money than the job is worth.

Similarly, if you give too much information (a five or six page curriculum vitae for a job as a Quality technician), you are hindering your chances of being taken seriously. (Wouldn't you wonder why Deming or Juran at the height of his career would apply for a Quality technician job?)

Chronological resumes are fine, but you run the risk of having to include nonpertinent jobs. Regardless, don't go back more than ten years, unless all the time was at one organization (my dad worked for only one employer from 1945 when he left the Army Air Corps to 1980's when he retired on disability.)
Education:
List degrees and schools, but not dates which would mark you as some old guy like me.
List professional associations and offices only if the profession fits the target job (don't list American Medical Association if you are seeking a job as an auto mechanic; don't list Society of Automotive Engineers if you are applying for job as a graphic artist.)
Don't EVER list religious or social affiliations unless you are applying for a job with the specific organization.

Personal "slant" versus "cold facts"
Your resume is an advertising document. You are trying to urge the reader to a specific action: arrange a job interview.

I can't emphasize enough the concept that every reader of that resume who can possibly hire you wants the answer to one specific question:
"What's in it for me and my organization if we hire you?"
Every fact you include in your resume should include a mini-story of how that is pertinent for the position being sought (usually by pointing out how helpful it was to the organization for whom you were working.)
So, you might say, "Reduced inventory costs 10%."
The better way might be, "Reduced inventory costs 10%, freeing up floor space to add a production machine which added $100,000 in net profit to the organization."

Above all, remember this fact: No one gets hired from a resume. The task of the resume is to provoke enough interest to generate an interview. The best way to provoke that interest is to show how you can benefit the organization. A laundry list of YOUR awards and certifications says absolutely nothing about how you will help the organization!
 
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techrat

Continuing down the format path

Wes, Thanks for the feedback! I have been enlisting some peers to review my current resume which is in chronological format and have been getting some excellent constructive critiscism. I am starting to think that a functional or Hybrid of Functional and Chronological resume would better showcase my abilities. I do not want to digress to far from the topic of this thread but would be interested in anyone's input concerning these other formats.

My main concern is that I will end up developing a resume that has a format that is not widely accepted. I would hate to be excluded from consideration based on the fact that my resume was in a functional format versus chronological. I have seen very few functional format resumes in my experience and am concerned that there may be some taboos concerning this style.
Thanks for your thoughts.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
techrat said:
Wes, Thanks for the feedback! I have been enlisting some peers to review my current resume which is in chronological format and have been getting some excellent constructive critiscism. I am starting to think that a functional or Hybrid of Functional and Chronological resume would better showcase my abilities. I do not want to digress to far from the topic of this thread but would be interested in anyone's input concerning these other formats.
My main concern is that I will end up developing a resume that has a format that is not widely accepted. I would hate to be excluded from consideration based on the fact that my resume was in a functional format versus chronological. I have seen very few functional format resumes in my experience and am concerned that there may be some taboos concerning this style.
Thanks for your thoughts.
In my opinion, as long as it concerns communicating with potential employers about a position, it can't possibly be off topic here.

Functional resumes are ONLY looked at askance (wrongly in my opinion) when they appear to be an attempt to cover serious gaps in employment or a multitude of positions at different employers in a short period (job hopper.)

Regardless if these apply to you or you decide to use the format because it helps concentrate the skills and experience in more meaningful chunks, you may have to inoculate the reader beforehand with a strong message which says [paraphrased]:
"I understand the position requires the combination of skills and experience I have gained in working for several different organizations. In order to present those as they apply to the position, I have grouped them together, regardless of which organization gave me the opportunity to use them."

Regardless whether you use chronological, full functional, or hybrid, if you have gaps in your job history or a number of short-termed jobs, you also have to explain and inoculate against that. This is a tricky road, because you don't want to come off either as a pitiful figure or as an arrogant devil-may-care guy who job hops on a whim. (If gaps or number of jobs applies to you, start with Bolles' site (https://www.jobhuntersbible.com/) and look through closely for tips on handling the situation.) Above all, the employer wants assurance you'll be around a while if he hires you and that you won't leave on a whim or that he'll have to fire you because your personality is terrible.

Does this make sense? If not, write back.
 
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techrat

Questions on education/skills section

One of the things that I am almost invariably asked when interviewed (Having only obtained an A.S. degree) is: "Do you intend to continue with your education?" I invariably reply that I do intend to but have been locationally challenged due to the proximity of my home and current employer to any institutions offering higher level degrees in my specific areas of expertise.

Is it appropriate to indicate in the education section that I desire to further my education? If so, what would be some good language to indicate this?


Also with regard to indicating skill sets; It seems to me that having a section that is a listing of ancillary skills would be a good way to ensure that the hiring personnel get to see that you have proficiencies with a specific software package, tool etc. I am thinking of a final section that lists these skills in free form i.e.:
Proficiencies:
M$ Office, Autocad v.10- Autocad 2005, Mitutoyo Geomeasure, Hands on use of tool making equipment, etc.

I would anticipate a fairly long list for myself. I think it may be a good way to ensure that a key-word or key capability is included in your resume without having to list 10 pages of how you have implemented each skill. Any thoughts?

I am intensively re-working my resume over this weekend and will appreciate any feedback.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Since you are under the gun for time, let's just deal quickly with the two issues.

Education: Knowing what you PLAN in your own future may be nice for organization to know in the interview to get a sense of what kind of guy you are, but it wasn't necessary to get you to the interview where the question was asked.

My advice: leave the topic for the interview.
How to answer in the interview:
"Yep. I am currently looking for either a local institution which offers what I want or a 'distance one' (internet.) Do you have any tips to offer?"

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

indicating skill sets:
Sure. Your way sounds fine. Just add this phrase to the head of the list of buzz words:
"I have experience and skill using the following which I hope will be a great advantage for the organization in performing the duties of [the target position.]"

Good luck on your campaign!
 
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