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 (and even raved about at times) this under-employment situation with numerous people, committing to a discussion about the pitfalls of ‘You must show ACHIEVEMENT, not *just* did things’ mind set seems legitimate.
The usual eight seconds aspect of recruiter viewing (I haven’t heard about that improving, and scanners are still a problem) is certainly a gripe many will have, but let’s 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 usually 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, rapport building, and handling of whatever blips or situations come up. While having the necessary computer skills–even if not the most current version thereof– is an expectation, being the oil that keeps gears rolling smoothly is a strong factor in administrative associates job. When the phone rings, the keyboarding skills take a break.
Many counselors agree a functional resume is legitimate, many others recruiters feel dates, including when NOT working, are still mandatory.
As a temporary employee ‘back in the (pre-recession) day’, 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.
It doesn’t have to just be your achievement if you worked in collaboration.
While there was a sub-set of nine or ten others who helped with coordination (especially the gift, a sweet, extra-large umbrella with padded grip from the corporate catalog I still have), it was my job to get the major factors together. The ballroom location and equipment needs became essentially free once the luncheon cost ($17 x 185= approx. $34,000) was negotiated, and 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 lady 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 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 difficult. It’s not fair to lump that under an ordinary job description, so take some space on a resume to make sure you draw attention to any similar ability to handle complex or out-of-the-ordinary situations.
In a multi-functional job as Customer Service Administrator, interfacing with three mutually exclusive data bases, over-sight and justification of eight technicians hourly and travel expenses, researching customer billing questions (the techs weren’t always great on documentation), and putting together $30,000-60,000 consignment orders of parts for new locations would seem like a full load administratively. Varied as the factors were though, 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 what part of a machine had failed, utilizing my writing skills to create a ‘Parts Ordering and Return Policies’ piece, became just such an 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, a quality future potential employers will only recognize if you present it 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 frequently 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.
Well, rewriting an environmental assessment questionnaire was a difference maker, and while the vast majority of preparing 150 hefty binders of information for a chemical safety conference was keeping two copying machines operating, at the time it was a two-day rush order that would’ve taken two weeks notice for a corporate print shop, and there wasn’t a data file with all the information to tap and go with for desktop publishing.
THEN comes the scanning snafus and eight seconds of ‘attention’ factor by recruiters, who we *know* are trying to fill a specific need for their clients, but 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 mandatory. While a uniquely formatted resume is often acceptable– LinkedIn does one– many operations still throw things in a scanner that will not be your friend when parsing.
As a possible fix I’ll offer this: FOLLOW UP with anything you send. Unlike the NASCAR application I came across with a 2,000 word limit to describe ‘Career Experiences’, applications usually lack flexibility to include ‘other stuff’. Recruiters might have less resumes than during the depths of the recession, but there are still many for every position, and they’re focused on getting a payoff result. Being eliminated because they didn’t see an EXACT match for their job order that included ‘achievement’ will happen far too often if YOU don’t put yourself in the mix more substantially.
Hoping TODAY! is the day a recruiter discovers a unique, shining example of someone whose paper portrait (your’s) includes a factor they hadn’t considered is less legitimate than calling them and offering an explanation of experience regarding whatever drew your attention to a potential position. Yes, you’d better have included that in a cover letter. 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.
Even if you think writing that extra couple lines will never get seen, doing less is seldom if ever going to win the day.