Ask ten managers or recruiters whats most important on a resume, and you will undoubtedly get ten different answers. Having commented/semi-raved about this situation several times, committing to an at-length discussion about unfairness of “ya gotta show ACHIEVEMENT, not *just* did things” mind set seems legitimate. The 6-8 seconds aspect of recruiter viewing is certainly a gripe many others will have too, but for now, lets use three examples regarding resumes and delineating production/achievement relative to executive-administrative assistant roles.
I’ve seen a particular article about the high desirability of ‘soft skills’ several times recently, a factor which I (perhaps immodestly) know I’ve got an abundance of– both freelance writing and significant sales background rely on the Q&A style of determining what needs to be known, rapport building, taking care of whatever blips or situations come up. Communications ability rarely generates verifiable ACHIEVEMENT; most often being the oil that keeps gears rolling smoothly is what makes up the EA-AAs job.
As a temp replacing an EA that handled three VPs, I was the primary coordinator for a quarterly meeting of a 175-190 person Residential Master Servicing group for a bank. I love a challenge, so determining the site (maximum convenience), the menu/costs for feeding everyone lunch, the AV equipment setups, which logo-ed gift the participants would receive and team building exercises were all wrapped in the project.
Yes, there was a sub-set of 9-10 others who helped, especially on idea of gift (a sweet umbrella, large with padded grip) from corporate catalog, but it was my job getting the factors together. That the ballroom location and equipment needs were essentially ‘free’ once the luncheon cost ($17 x 190= approx. $34k) was negotiated was a no-brainer when I presented it to the VP with oversight responsibility. The idea of a scavenger hunt for a team building exercise was, IMHO, brilliant, and everything worked exceptionally smooth. The lady who didn’t put a printout in teams box by ‘zero’ as rest of room counted down end of exercise certainly won’t forget it.
Problem: Sure it was an achievement, the first item at top of my resume on Pg. 2– but HOW MUCH under whatever budget can I claim? Banks were fat then, it was almost a blank check really, but knowing what previous meeting looked like– including having people drive to another part of Charlotte– what magnitude of Great Job is legitimate?
Second: A multi-functional job as Customer Service Administrator, including the quantifying of technician hourly/travel expenses, researching any customer billing questions (and those techs weren’t always great on their documentation), putting together $30-60,000 consignment orders of parts for new locations, and interfacing with three mutually exclusive data bases.
I utilized writing skills several times, with a specific ‘Parts Ordering and Return Policies’ piece being an ‘achievement’. The Parts Dept. was often called on to diagnose what part had failed, based on customer description of a machine not working. Codifying how company wanted callers– generally the guys in the pits with machines, not office personnel– to present needs in 1st, 2nd, 3rd best ways to determine the required part IMPROVED process-efficiency for Parts (diagnosing being a Service situation), but QUANTIFYING that achievement from an administrative POV for resume, hmmmm.
Third: During a reorganization of a 105 person Purchasing department, I was tasked to the change coordinator, and based on my abilities in several areas, became point of contact for five Team Leaders. I didn’t have to make travel plans for all of them, but beyond creating and disseminating all new policies through the e-mail system, DOING for multiple execs or managers is frequently in position descriptions for EAs.
THEN comes the 6-8 seconds of ‘attention’ factor by a recruiter, who we *know* is trying to fill a specific need for their clients– but who often won’t sit with someone to determine the extras their experience/under-utilized skills might bring if known about.
I’m coming back to administrative arena after working in retail during the recession, taking Excel and Outlook courses on line to refresh things I knew cold seven years ago, but while the 112.6% of goal (achievement!) I nailed in 2013 in retail job barely counts, you can’t leave out all that time. Retail paid my bills during a hellacious economic time, and for sure it involved those soft skills and production, yet its not super relevant to the admin-organizational roles I want/need to present in a resume. Two counselors agreed a ‘functional’ resume (without dates!) that minimized retail worked better to promote my previous admin experience; several other recruiters said dates, including when NOT working, were mandatory– clients felt you were trying to hide something otherwise, and yeah, just describing the job wasn’t enough, resume needed to include achievements. I couldn’t tell you how many never responded at all, or number of insurance companies who wanted the sales experience because it was at the beginning (or popped the right word in algorithym).
As a possible fix I’ll offer this:
Like the NASCAR app I came across with a 2000 word limit to describe ‘career experiences’, applications need a heckuva lot more flexibility to include ‘other stuff’, AND RECRUITERS SHOULD READ IT. Sure you’ve got a bunch of resumes for every position, you’re sooooo busy/focused on getting a payoff result, but eliminate a candidate because you only took six seconds and didn’t see an EXACT match for job order that included ‘achievement’, where something like a quarterly meeting *should* count for something, dang it, that’s wrong.
Take a whole MINUTE maybe, tell yourself TODAY is the day you discover a unique, shining example of someone whose paper portrait includes a factor you hadn’t considered. Maybe even call them and ask for an explanation of whatever drew a huh! from you. It’s January baby, if you’re just BSing around the water cooler because (as one recruiter stated) “The only thing I have is a job upselling people who have basic membership on a dating site,” you’ve GOT the time.