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BEC : Resumes -Conversation
AJ: So let’s talk about resumes this time. Resumes are, of course, a common tool in job hunting. In some countries they’re called CVs, CV and sometimes in universities or the academic world they’re be called CVs; but, at least in the United States, we usually use the word resume. Your resume is kind of like your advertisement really.
When you’re out looking for a job it’s a little piece of paper that you’re promoting yourself with. So, first of all, we’ll talk about I guess kind of what do you recommend putting on a resume and not putting on a resume.
George: Yeah, there are some really key things that should go into a resume and a lot of things that shouldn’t go in a resume. Primarily, the resume should give a brief history of your work experience so that people can see your track record at least in terms of what you’ve done. Not so much what you’ve done, but where you’ve been and what your position in those different jobs was.
That is just simply, ABC Company from June of 2010 to July of 2012 I worked as a mailroom specialist and then so on down through there. For you older folks I would recommend that you not do anything beyond 10 or 15 years.
You don’t want to go putting 30 years worth of experience on there.
AJ: Yeah. Generally, a resume should be short. One page is best, two pages at the most. Don’t go over two pages and the heart of it will be your work history. What you really want to focus on is not just listing your jobs and then listing the duties you had. I did that the first few times and that doesn’t promote you at all.
You have to remember the resume is an advertisement for you, so you want to make it a powerful advertisement and just listing the jobs you had and what you did in a boring way is not going to help you at all. You really want to focus on the accomplishments that you achieved or had at your various jobs.
Not just what you did, but how your actions helped the company that you work for or the organization you work for.
So you want to talk about anything you did to save money for the company or to make money for the company. Something you did that saves time for people or a problem that you solved or successes that you achieved. You really want to focus on examples so you would list the basic information, where you worked and when and then under that with some bullet points you really focus on achievements, accomplishments, as concrete as possible.
George: Absolutely. This is the big ticket item in that resume and the kinds of words that you use in there, just like AJ said--Implemented a program which saved $2 million and, of course, be specific--Implemented a training program that saved $2 million; supervised the construction of a 30,000 sq. ft. facility.
Things of that nature and be specific. What was your role? Again, here’s a good place or ‘the’ place to put the key words that you want in a resume and the key words are ‘supervised’, ‘managed’, ‘implemented’, ‘coordinated’, things of that nature.
This is not fluff stuff here. This is where you really did these things and what the result was. Just to say I supervised six people in the accounting department is all well and good, but that’s not an accomplishment. You supervised six people in an accounting department and over a period of two years we implemented a new software program that enabled us to expand our responsibilities from a 16 person department to the entire division of the corporation, things of that nature.
AJ: Yeah, that’s right, specific projects you worked on where something beneficial was accomplished. You’ll keep it short, just one little small phrase, bullet point and then, hopefully, what you’ll do is then get an interview and then you’ll talk in more detail about these things, but you really want to be focusing on your track record because that’s what employers are really looking for.
Myself, I hire people in my business to do various jobs for me and when I do I’m looking for a track record of doing a great job. I want to see that they’ve already done great things. They’ve already achieved things. They’ve already gotten successes. I don’t just want to hear them tell me that they can, anybody can talk. Employers are really looking for a track record, for that history.
George: That’s right. As a hiring manager I know that what I always used to do was look at those accomplishments and, of course, you let the interviewee give you their sales pitch, if you will, but then I would focus on those accomplishments and get some specific questions and ask them what exactly are you talking about here? You implemented a program that saved $1 million, tell me about that.
There’s your opportunity to really sell yourself and explain the nuts and bolts, the real techniques and little things that you did and why because of your efforts money was saved or head count was reduced, whatever it happens to be. A good hiring manager will use this section of your resume to turn around and ask you questions about it. By the way, if they don’t you tell them about it anyway. That’s part of your sales process.
AJ: So the resume is like a hook. Imagine you’re fishing and the resume is the hook. You’re hooking them, getting their interest. You’re not going to write long sentences and paragraphs about what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished. You’re just giving little bullet points with the basic information of what you achieved, what you accomplished, good things that you managed to do and they’ll ask about it in more detail when you actually show up for the interview. Just think of the resume as a hook. You want to get their attention with things you’ve accomplished.
Now, of course, you do need to dot your, i’s and cross your t’s. You need to make sure if it’s an English resume that the English is correct, the spelling is correct, that everything looks good. I recommend that you get other people to look at your resume. So write your resume and then give it to other people to find mistakes or to make suggestions. If it’s an English language resume, if you can, try to find an English speaker, a native English speaker to look at it and check it to make sure everything is good.
George: I’d take that one step further. Not only have them look at it, but depending on who they are, let them play the role of the interviewing manager. That’s a great way to practice something that’s a rather traumatic experience when you get right down to it of having to go through a resume.
So every opportunity you’ve got to have somebody who will give you some honest feedback of not only you’re your resume, but what you’ve got to say and what you’ve got to say about your resume and your sales presentation for yourself. You really just can’t get enough practice on that kind of stuff. So use your network, if you will, your friends, associates, neighbors, anybody you know that will listen to you and practice. Practice on them.
AJ: I think you should always have a current resume ready is another thing.
Some people have a job and they feel secure in their job so they just think oh, I don’t need to look for a job, but really I think you should always have a current resume ready to go.
When I was working, even when I had a job that I liked, I still always looked at the ads for jobs to see what job openings were out there near me. I was always aware of it so I was always ready for my next job and you should be too. We talked about in the first lesson set that there’s no job security so you always have to be ready. You always have to be ready to job search.
George: Absolutely. With the current environment I wouldn’t let that thing get out of date. Every accomplishment that makes sense to change or add in your resume, yes, keep that thing current. You never know. You want to be able to reach down in your drawer at home and pull that thing out and be ready to go.
AJ: I think, too, it’s a good idea to constantly be networking as well, to be out there meeting people. It could be friends or neighbors or friends of the family.
Even if they’re in different kinds of business you could still go and talk to them. Just make some connections because most jobs come from a connection. You know somebody in the company or you know somebody who knows somebody else that has a job opening.
So you really have to get out there. Start with friends and family. Don’t ask them for jobs because that’s a little obnoxious, but ask them if they know of anybody or ask them if they could look at your resume and give you some advice or help. Ask them if they know of other people who may be hiring. So just start doing that and start to get to know more people and connect and network with more people.
George: Absolutely, key point. The vast majority of jobs that people get are through some sort of networking and a lot of it is very, very informal. A friend or a friend of a friend or a relative just happens to know something, so you need to keep the network going. When you’re looking for a job let these people know because you never know. The friend of a friend may just happen to know somebody who’s looking for somebody that does the kind of things you do and, voila, you may get the interview just by a simple referral on somebody that maybe you didn’t know directly but they’re certainly willing to help you.
AJ: Exactly, it’s just so important to do that. I’m not a natural networker myself. I don’t like getting out there trying to meet people just for the sake of business or getting some kind of connection for a job. You don’t have to be super aggressive about it, but get out there and talk to people. It’s actually not so difficult to do.
If you already have a job, start getting to know people in your company who work in different areas of the company. Because if you had a problem with your current job, if it was being cut or downsized, then you might be able to jump to another department if you have connections in different parts of the company.
George: Excellent point. As long as you’re working in a company that’s a fairly decent size and there are other departments, other organizations, develop those contacts with everybody that you can because over the water cooler is how people learn about what’s going on.
I can tell you that I probably had four or five jobs in my life that were just because of that. That I happened to know somebody who was in an organization on a social basis and low and behold one night or afternoon they would mention that hey, my boss is looking for somebody or the manager of the department next door to me is looking for somebody, would you maybe be interested. Bingo, off we went to another job, a better job by the way.
AJ: Exactly, it’s great. It’s just a fantastic technique. So, you know, having a great resume that hooks people and then just getting out there and meeting people as much as you can.
George: Absolutely. I think that’s the key.
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