Getting a Great Job in Any Economy - Ya Gotta Have a Resume

5/19/2011 3:10:08 PM
By PSN Staff

by Ted Leamy

I have been blathering in recent blog posts about how and when to seek a new job in the wide wide world of AV. There are some basic do’s and don’ts. Doesn’t matter if you are a technician, consultant, engineer, AutoCAD drafter, marketing specialist or sales person, the basics are all important when it comes to looking for a new position that is fulfilling. My advice? – stick to the basics. How did I become an expert at these career basics? – it’s a long story, so I am trying to just give you a summary based on both my successes and failures working in our industry.

So far we have discussed why you might want to look at a new career opportunity and when you might want to decide to move on from your current situation. Now we are gonna talk about how to do it!

Let’s talk about resumes. Resumes are important. Get one. Get a good one. Write it yourself.   A resume (or CV as it is known in a greater part of the world) is your calling card. It is generally the first step in presenting yourself to a new employer. A good resume is often times the difference between receiving a call or having your file dumped in the ‘no-go’ bin. Here’s the deal – a resume’ needs to tell a story. A story about you. 

I read a lot of resumes in my role as a manager. I receive many poorly written ones that don’t tell a story but instead resemble a criminal rap sheet. I read the name of the company, length of time employed, and position held. Seems more like the documentation of a prison sentence served than a career history! (Maybe it felt like that too.)

Yeah, the ‘where and when’ information is important and must be there, but you have to tell more – much more. What did you do when you where there to help the company succeed? How did you add value to the company? Did you increase sales 12 percent a month? Did you find a more efficient way to document engineering files helping to cut costs? Did you create a new marketing strategy that produced a new profitable revenue stream? 

Just getting dressed and showing up at the front door of a business on time is not enough to be considered ‘adding value’ to the organization. You have to contribute! I bet you probably have contributed a lot (most of us do), but perhaps have not measured your work in this business manner. 

It’s time to step back and write down your business accomplishments in a positive and succinct style – it will feel good to do too! And no gibberish. Recently I scanned a submission which read something like: “developed and managed cross-functionality in a multi-disciplinary-team-based-organization to enable greater throughput in the context of the overall organization development strategy.” THAT is gibberish! Confusing BS like this is a big turn-off. Use everyday language explaining what your position entailed and how you made a difference in the company’s bottom line.

How you helped the enterprise succeed is what hiring managers are looking to find out about potential employees. Your story should not be just a history of the tasks you completed, but a narrative of how you have grown professionally and made measurable business contributions to each organization you were part of.

A few other items concerning resumes:
1. You think you don’t need one, Mr. Big Shot? Guess again. General managers of any business want to to see a resume for everyone hired. Don’t think it is beneath you to have one. Keep your resume current and updated. Make the update a monthly habit.

2. Be sure your contact information is correct. Include an email address. Try not to use a personal ‘fun’ email address such as drinks_jagermeister_alot@hotmail.com. It just doesn’t make the right impression in a resume.

3. State your intentions - In your preamble assert what kind of position you are looking for and why. Don’t write: “Looking to join an exciting company where I can learn and grow," or anything as broad. Be specific. What do you want! Re-read my last two blog posts if you are unsure what I am talking about.

4. Short and sweet – make your resume fit on one page. It’s hard to do, but brief is good.  Remember someone is likely scanning dozens of resumes when they get to yours — they are  looking for highlights that catch their eye. You are only trying to impress someone enough that they pick up the phone and call you – you don’t have to write them a book.

5. Employment history – I know, I know… I wrote about this already a few paragraphs ago! It is so important I am gonna cover it again. NO boring employment history that reads like a criminal rap sheet – got it? Put in the dates and where you were, but also describe your professional growth and measureable business contributions in plain language. And if there are any gaps in your employment history be certain to explain – gaps are viewed poorly by hiring managers.

6. Education, Certifications and Associations -  Be sure to list all you have achieved including any manufacturer or industry related certification. It is easy to forget them or think they are not that meaningful. They are meaningful. It shows you are involved in managing your own career path and plays well with hiring managers.

7. References – get references, they are important. Everyone is checking references these days. (If you are a hiring manager and you are not, start!) Now… references can be tricky if you are working at a job but looking for another. You don’t want someone calling around if it is going to cause trouble in your current workplace – we are in a small industry and rumors get started easily. If this is the case, put “references available on request” at the bottom of your resume. If you do get a call from a potential employer, then you can explain why you did not attach references – hiring managers will always be willing to be discreet when calling references.

Oh, and make your references real people please! People that you actually have worked with or reported to. It doesn’t hurt to call a potential reference and get their permission to list them. Chances are they will be flattered and say nice things about you too.

8. Googling – Pretty good chance whoever reads your resume is going to Google you before they make contact. Make your resume truthful. And you might want to Google yourself and see if there are any “embarrassing hits” that come up - you will want to be ready to explain if asked. 

OK. That’s my two-cents on resumes. Next time we are gonna talk about job interviews and evaluating offer letters.

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