Ask ten managers or recruiters what’s most important on a resume, and beyond contact information, you will undoubtedly get ten different answers. Having commented (even raved) about this under-employment situation with numerous people, I’m committing to a discussion about the pitfalls of “You must show ACHIEVEMENT, not *just* did things” mind set.
That the standard eight seconds of recruiter viewing time for resumes doesn’t seem to have improved is certainly a gripe many will have, and scanners are definitely still a problem.
I’ll use three examples regarding resumes and delineating production versus achievement relative to executive-administrative associate roles. Those who think millions lack necessary skills probably haven’t explored beyond singular tests adequately with clients.
Having seen articles about the desirability of ‘soft skills’ recently, communications ability doesn’t equate to verifiable ACHIEVEMENT. In my own freelance writing, community involvement projects, and significant sales background, I’ve relied on the Q&A style of determining what needs to be known with rapport building, and handling of whatever blips or situations come up.
Having the necessary computer skills, even if not the most current version, is an expectation, yet being the oil that keeps gears moving smoothly is an understood factor in admin associates job. When the phone rings, the keyboarding skills take a break.
Many counselors agree a functional vs. chronological resume is legitimate, many others feel dates, including when NOT working, are still required.
As a contract employee pre-recession, I became the primary coordinator for a quarterly meeting of a 185-person Master Servicing group, after replacing an executive associate that handled three vice-presidents.
Determining the site, menu and costs for lunch, the AV equipment setups, which logo-ed gift participants would receive, and team building exercises were all wrapped in the project.
Singular achievement or significant collaboration
While there was a sub-set of nine or ten others who helped with coordination (especially the participant gift, a sweet, extra-large umbrella with padded grip from the corporate catalog I still have), it was my job to get the major ABCs together.
The ballroom location and equipment needs became essentially free once the luncheon cost ($17 x 185 v. approx. $34,000 budget) was negotiated, which proved a no-brainer to green-light when presented to the veep with oversight responsibility.
The lunch banquet worked smoothly, and a scavenger hunt for the team building exercise proved brilliant. The participant who didn’t put a printout in her team’s box by ‘3-2-1-zero!’ as everyone counted down the end of exercise certainly won’t forget it.
It’s not fair to you, lumping that under an ordinary job description. It was clearly an achievement, and while banks were fat then and it was almost a blank check on budget, quantifying the magnitude of a similar Great Job! shouldn’t be missed. Take space on your resume to draw attention to any similar ability to handle complex or out-of-the-ordinary situations.
Customer Service Administrator
In a multi-functional job tagged as Customer Service Administrator, I interfaced with three mutually exclusive data bases, had over-sight and justification of eight technicians hourly and travel expenses, and researched customer billing questions (the techs weren’t always great on documentation). Putting together $30,000-60,000 consignment orders of parts for new locations and call backs were secondary administrative tasks.
Varied as these factors were, there’s still nothing that smacks of that all important ‘Achievement’ at an administrative level.
Recognizing the Parts Department was often asked by customers to diagnose which part of a machine had failed, I utilized my writing skills to create a ‘Parts Ordering and Return Policies’ piece, which became that out of the ordinary achievement.
Diagnosing was a Service function, so codifying how the 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 the Parts Department.
It took a lot of time, but distilling a comprehensive 1,325 user mailing list from an 18,000 machine database and disseminating those ordering-return procedures became a quantifiable ‘value added achievement.’ Projects like that aren’t about knowing the most current software, its more about showing initiative. That’s a quality potential employers will only recognize if it’s presented on a resume early and somehow as a scannable line of copy. That isn’t always easy, its just what’s needed though, so work it.
During a reorganization of a 105-person Purchasing Department, I was tasked to the change coordinator and became a point of contact for five Team Leaders. Multiple executives or managers is usually included in position descriptions for administrative associates, so beyond creating and disseminating all new policies through the e-mail system, where does quantifying come in?
Take some space on a resume to make sure you draw attention to an ability to handle complex or out-of-the-ordinary situations.
Rewriting an environmental assessment questionnaire was a difference maker. While the vast majority of preparing 150 hefty binders of information for a chemical safety conference was keeping two copying machines operating, it was a two-day rush order that would’ve taken two weeks notice for a corporate print shop. There wasn’t a data file with all the information to tap and go for desktop publishing.
Scanning snafus and eight seconds of attention
It’s still a discouraging factor with recruiters, who we *know* are trying to fill a specific need for their clients. Many still won’t sit with someone to determine the ‘extras’ their experience or under-utilized skills might amount to if known about.
Many counselors agree a functional resume is legitimate, many others recruiters say dates, including when NOT working, are still required. While a uniquely formatted resume is often acceptable – LinkedIn does a decent one – many operations still throw things into a scanner that will not be your friend when parsing.
When you’re looking for a better job, making the time to create the best possible, and hopefully unique, picture of what you offer is a factor every expert agrees about. As a small, reasonable fix, I’ll sincerely offer this: FOLLOW UP with anything you send.
Having come across a NASCAR application with a 2,000 word limit to describe ‘Career Experiences,’ few applications have the flexibility to include ‘other stuff.’ Recruiters might have less resumes than during the depths of the recession, there’s supposed to be a shortage for many position, but helping to keep them focused on you as the payoff requires more than a voice mail every ten days.
Being eliminated because your recruiter didn’t see you as an EXACT match for their job order, that you under-state your own achievements will happen far too often if you don’t put it in the mix in a substantial way.
Hoping TODAY! is the day a recruiter discovers YOU are a unique, shining example of someone whose paper portrait includes a factor they hadn’t considered, hmmm. What’s more legitimate is calling them and offering an explanation of experience regarding whatever drew your attention to a new possibility. (Yes, you should have included that in a cover letter.)
Even if you think writing that extra couple lines will never get seen, doing less is seldom (if ever) going to win the day.