Writing the Good Resume
Writing a good resume takes time and effort.
Your Resume Writing Process Begins With the Hiring Manager
Why should you pay any attention to what I have to say? It is a good question. I am a hiring manager at a large corporation. In the last five years I have reviewed as many as a thousand resumes to select more than 300 candidates for interviews. Granted, some were interns. But most were for entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level people.
Who is the hiring manager? It is a manager, usually somebody responsible for getting the work done, who has authority to make decisions about who will be interviewed and who will be hired. I am such a person. I am responsible for finding great talent. But I do not act alone. The Lone Ranger had his faithful Indian companion, Tonto. I have a Talent Acquisiton Recruiter. We work together.
As I prepared to write my thoughts on how it all works for me I thought it would be instructive to review what other web sites had to say. Website advice is hit and miss. Some of those resume writers may have written resumes that I have rejected. The advice is only somewhat useful. Who are they looking out for? You must look out for you.
In my world every job opening requires a job requisition. It contains a great deal of information about the job, its most basic skill requirements, and its preferred skills. Ours has a brief description of the job. It is broadly written, filled with big, sweeping statements. Pay attention to it. It identifies what the new employee is expected to do.
The requisition also contains the basic job requirements. These are the “must have” skills and credentials a candidate must have in order to get beyond the recruiter screening. Mine always include the minimum education, for example, a bachelors of science in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences. It will include the minimum essential skills a candidate must have. Some examples include the following:
· fundamental understanding of LAN technologies
· familiarity with Microsoft Office products (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Visio)
· Excellent writing skills
· Familiarity with scheduling
· Comprehensive understanding of Army Command and Control theory and technologies
· Demonstrated ability to solve moderately complex technical problems
· Ability to lead a technical project
Finally the job requisition includes the preferred skills. While you must have the basic skills to be considered, the preferred skills are “nice to have”. These are the skills that allow one candidate to rise above others in consideration. Here are a few examples:
· Moderate ability to translate Farsi to American English
· Experience designing networks with up to 500 nodes
· Experience leading mixed technical teams of up to 15 people
· Experience with developing integrated master schedules
· Or any other "bonus" skill the hiring manager determines
Write Your Resume For Just Two People
As you write your resume remember that you write for just two people. The first person you, the candidate, writes for is the Recruiter. He, or she, is a gatekeeper. She screens each applicant against the requirements in the requisition. For my jobs the requirements include education, experience, and basic skills. The recruiter will only pass along fully qualified candidates to the hiring manager. The screening process is swift. She spends about 30 seconds on resumes for those unqualified for the positions they have applied for. She spends about two minutes validating the qualified candidate.
The second person is the hiring manager. This is a manager who has authority to make a hiring decision. The hiring manager is important to you, the candidate because he or she makes the interview decision, conducts the interview, and makes the hiring decision.
This brings us to you, the candidate. What should you do? Your most important task is to make sure the details in your resume match the job’s basic requirements. Read the whole job requisition. If you do not meet the basic requirements move on. You will not get the interview. Your only goal is to write a resume that will get you the interview.
As you begin your first draft, write with the recruiter in mind. Summarize your skills and experience. If there is an education requirement make sure your resume shows that you meet it. Then for each basic requirement identify how you meet it. Here are some examples:
· Education requirement: BS in Civil Engineering
o Resume: BS: Civil Engineering from a specific University with a graduation year.
· Experience: between 2-5 years as an individual performer
o Resume: Show each job with month/year to month/year adding up to between 2 and 5 years of work specifically related to the job requisition.
· Skills: Fundamental understanding of LAN technologies
o Resume: Designed Local Area Networks for three medium-sized companies. Configured routers and switches. Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) with three years of on the job experience.
Make the connection for the recruiter. If the job calls for hands on experience and you were in quality assurance you must make the case for how your experiences meet the need. In many instances making the case requires thoughtfulness and perhaps some ingenuity. But make the case. Or you will be rejected.
Don't do anything else until you are absolutely certain the recruiter will accept that you have met every basic requirement. Meeting four out of five is NOT good enough. Clearly, and simply, show how you meet every basic requirement. Have several people review your resume against the job requisition to make sure you have addressed every basic requirement. If you fail at this your resume will be rejected. The hiring manager will never see your resume.
Second, write with the hiring manager in mind. This part is all about me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. The hiring manager will do a quick scan to confirm the candidate meets the basic job requirements. Then the hiring manager moves on to accept or reject the resume based upon the intangibles. It is my goal to get from a dozen resumes to five or fewer interviews for each specific position. I will look for reasons to reject a candidate.
· If your doctorate degree was in thermodynamics but you have words misspelled, I will reject you
· If your resume is difficult to read because you fail to use white space correctly, I will reject you
· If I said in the job requisition that I need someone with a detailed understanding of command and control theory and you, the candidate, use incorrect terms, I will reject you.
I have an anecdote from an actual interview but I will save it for the next article covering interviews. Don't fake it. I will reject you.
Do make sure you address each preferred job skill. As the hiring manager I want to get the best possible candidate with the best fit to the job and to the organization's culture. If your experiences don't exactly match the preferred skills then show how what you have done is relevant to my needs. Chances are good that I will accept you. Remember, at this point in the process it is all about me, the hiring manager. Show me that you have done your homework. If I want someone who is comfortable working with mid-level engineers and you have experience working with mid-level scientists, then make your case. If you do not address the preferred skills I, the hiring manager, will assume that you lack them.
Be professional. Be neat. Be accurate. I may review the dozen resumes several times before I have made my decisions for interviews. You will want your resume to be able of withstanding my scrutiny, not once, not twice. Go the distance. Your goal must be to give me no excuse for rejecting you based on your resume.