Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Resumes (more)

I’ve blogged about resume’s previously and covered a lot of the basics. You know the stuff:
· Use bullets,
· Start each bullet with one or more active verbs
· Leave lots of white space
· Use numerals unless there is some specific reason to use the number names
· Use your spell checker
· etc
Others have added unknown billions of bytes about what to say as well. Frequently they recommend that each job being applied for requires a different resume. When we look at a job description, we should line our experience up with their requirements then submit this unique resume.

At Notes From the Job Search we agree with most of that, but we also recognize that it’s much easier said than done. Who has the time to rewrite their resume 3 or 4 times a week? Who remembers all that stuff we did 5 or 10 years ago? If I tell someone that I wrote an inventory system for a company that maintained inventory for about 100 smaller companies, do I also tell them it was in Cobol? That I did it 15 years ago? How about the fact that it was for a logging company?

One of the volunteers at NFJS is Bob Jackson (Colonel, USAF ret) and he came up with a process for making those individualized resume’s possible. It starts by separating the resume build process from the application process, so when an interesting opportunity surfaces, we’re ready. It’s still a challenging process and takes time. First to figure out what to include, then to figure out how to phrase it, then to figure out what to extract for a specific opportunity.
So what is this magic process?
· Create a resume database including: everything.
· Phrase accomplishments such they can be cut and pasted into a new resume.
· Include all of your recommendations
· Cherry pick the good stuff out of evaluations
· Write short (2 line max) descriptions of jobs held.
· Focus on what you did, not what you did it on. (in the example above, what I did was write the “inventory system”, what I did it on was “logging”)

The place to start is a simple chronological list of jobs you’ve had. If you are just entering the job market, then add an entry for every year of school from your freshman year in high school.

Next take your resume as it stands now and cut and past them into the list aligned with the job where they took place.

Add the stuff back in that you took out because it happened too long ago.

Add all of the recommendations you’ve received. If they are in hard copy, type them in.

There are people who can do this without a support system, Bob did it that way, but most of us need someone to check in with and compare notes with, so if you’re in the Seattle area, check out the NFJS schedule and join us. If you are outside the area, find some kind of support system. Maybe just a friend you can get together with every week, maybe it’s your spouse, maybe it’s a support group like NFJS, but getting support is very important. Perhaps the best part is the mutual re-enforcement, but there are amazing numbers of benefits.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Elevator Pitch

My brother suggested that the various bits of information that we use in our job search are really part of "branding" our work. It's a great concept and a great way to think of the parts. It suggests that the message is consistent and that while the format changes, and the words change and even the examples used, we understand our work as a product and that we understand that getting a job is really selling that product. So our elevator pitch is the first and shortest description of our brand

Elevator pitches:

o Short 30 seconds
o Part A, what are you looking for
o Part B, What makes you special (with specifics)

Key is to focus on your audience and to think out expectations before starting
o The neighborhood block party has one presentation
o A corporate CEO has a different presentation
o Core elements need to remain -- the brand is still the brand

When describing your history, describe what you did, not what you did it on.

o Your job in the Army was "Supply Officer". What you did your work on would be scheduling trucks and truck drivers and munitions and rations.
o What you did was work task breakdown, schedule coordination, critical path analysis...

Be specific about your role (thinking of what you did, not what you did it on) the example above might include:
o Trained and Managed crew of 24 working round the clock under adverse conditions
o Designed, wrote and implemented policies that provided for the safety of full crew

It needs to be developed with the audience in mind and it changes based on the audience
It does not answer all questions, better if it generates questions/discussion

In other words, our "brand" is always our "brand" but it can be expressed lots of ways.