Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (03/15/02):
- Writing a compelling resume even when job doesn’t involve numbers
- Expanding the definition of work experience on a resume
- Deciding when to take high school education off a resume
- Determining value of MBA for a position in marketing/public relations
|Q:||Tad writes: What if your job doesn’t involve numbers dollars saved. I’m a security officer. How do I write a compelling resume?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Tad kudos to you for understanding the importance of quantifying on your resume. Job-seekers must show prospective employers your accomplishments rather than simply telling them — and quantifying results is one method to do just that.
But now you have to take that understanding to the next level because you can quantify and showcase your accomplishments in just about any job. For example can’t you quantify the number of hours days weeks etc. without incidents; the number of hours of training and professional development; the number (and types) of security devices/technology you’ve mastered; number of security investigations successfully closed; commendations (or other records of achievement) you have received.
There are really two keys to writing successful resumes and cover letters. The first key as you know is stating your accomplishments (rather than job duties). For an in-depth review of this issue please read our article For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.
The second key is researching and using job-specific keywords in your resumes and cover letters. Employers are increasingly turning to keywords to conduct searches of resume databases and if your resume doesn’t contain those keywords the company is using then you are pretty much dead in the water. So how does a job-seeker know what keywords to use on his or her resume? Good question. The quick and dirty answer is that you need to study job postings and job descriptions and find the pattern of words employers use and then be sure to insert them into your resume. The longer — and better — answer is to read the very detailed new article (and sidebars) from my partner Katharine Hansen published on Quintessential Careers: Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.
|Q:||Julie writes: I have been unemployed for a little over a year but I have been doing all the paper work for my husband’s business he has on the side I also live on a farm. So I really haven’t been employed how would I add this in my resume. If I leave it off they will think I haven’t been working.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You have to remember Julie that you determine how you frame your experience — both on your resume and in job interviews. The employer is not a mind-reader so unless you showcase your experience skills and accomplishments you are not going to get many interviews.
So many job-seekers are in a similar situations as yours. Perhaps they worked for a family business perhaps it was volunteer work or perhaps it was taking a year off to go back to school’But what you and all these other job-seekers don’t understand is that all these things add up to your specific mix of skills and abilities. Employers are more interested in job-seekers that have been doing something during a hiatus from full-time employment than job-seekers who appear to have been doing nothing
What’s the answer? Don’t discount any of the year that you’ve been working on the farm and helping your husband’s business. Instead embrace that experience. Find experience skills and accomplishments that you can pull from the past year’s work. If you find the experience doesn’t quite fit into a neat career path then consider switching from a conventional chronological resume to a functional style. What’s the difference? Chronological resumes focus on your job history while functional resumes focus on specific (transferable) skills sets you’ve mastered. Read more in these articles published on Quintessential Careers: Should You Consider a Functional Resume? and Strategic Portrayal of Transferable Skills is a Vital Job-search Technique.
You can also find many more resume-related articles and tutorials in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: If I am 40 years old should I leave my High School off my resume and just keep the college and special education? Or should I keep the name of the High School and just leave the year graduated off. Thanks.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I have a former student — a college graduate — who was valedictorian of her high school. Quite an accomplishment — years ago — but no one cares about it anymore yet she still clings to it on her resume (partly because her college career was less than stellar). Even in her case I recommended removing the high school stuff as soon as she was a college student.
So here’s the rule. If you made it into college one can assume that you completed your high school education in some fashion so drop it off your resume. Why should you waste precious space on your resume on an accomplishment that is inconsequential to most employers. Note to non-U.S. job-seekers: The norm for curriculum vitas in many countries outside the U.S. is to list your high school education but if you’re applying for a job in the U.S. leave it off.
Why are you clinging to that high school degree? Take it off your resume!
But you also raise an interesting question for all older job-seekers — we baby boomers and older job-seekers. At some point — probably in your 40s — I would remove dates from college degrees as a preemptive strike against the possibility of age discrimination. While you’re a little young to be worrying about age discrimination others might be interested in our growing section of Job and Career Resources for Mature and Older Workers.
|Q:||Julie writes: Please review my attached resume and sample cover letter. I am currently working on going to a local business school next year. Preferably Rice University but I am also applying at University Of Houston. I will be working towards an MBA in Marketing. Do you have any career suggestion or can you offer any fresh career ideas for me. I am interested in a Marketing/Public Relations position.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m sorry Julie but I never review or critique job-seeker’s resumes or cover letters. There are plenty of services that will do that for you including our own: Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters.
I can however talk a bit about your MBA and career goals. First you should know that you will be facing increasing competition to get accepted into MBA programs as the number of applicants nationwide has continued to swell over the last several months. Assuming you get into one or more of the MBA programs I would suggest you choose the school that has a strong record of placing their marketing MBAs. I would also suggest that you continue working – or take an internship while in the MBA program — to continue to gain valuable marketing experience.
You will greatly enhance your chances for success by combining the value of the marketing MBA with related marketing experience’the perfect mix of top level skills associated with someone who has just received their MBA and a strong record of accomplishments and experience from previous marketing experience.
Finally I strongly suggest you read my article The Master of Business Administration: Is the MBA Worth the Time Effort and Cost?