Education and Insights
We are continuously collecting or authoring informational editorials to share with our clients, candidates and business colleagues. We have included several here, and intend to refresh this offering on a periodic basis. Happy reading.
Listing your job responsibilities on a resume may get you on an employer's job-candidate roster, but if you note some solid accomplishments as well, you may be able to make the jump onto a recruiter's short list. Terry Gallagher, president of Battalia Winston International, a New York-based executive search firm, says he places "three times as much value on results versus responsibilities on a resume."
But while touting your successes may be a winning strategy, figuring out what to include and how to convey it can be a challenge, say professional resume writers.
To make your resume easy to read, keep the chronological format and integrate your accomplishments into each job listing, experts advise. Executive resumes longer than one page should also highlight selected accomplishments at the beginning, says Martin Weitzman, president of Gilbert Resumes in Englishtown, N.J.
Stumped when it comes to identifying your accomplishments? Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Ditch the modesty.
"The resume is absolutely no time to be humble," says Heather Eagar, owner of ResumeLines.com, a reviewer of resume-writing services.
Judy Rosemarin, president of Sense-Able Strategies Inc., a New York executive-coaching firm, recalls that a client from the banking industry froze and began perspiring after being asked to write down her accomplishments. "Where is that talented executive I was just talking to?" Ms. Rosemarin says she asked. In response, the client explained she was uncomfortable bragging.
Remember that you are a solution to the hiring manager's problem, advises Ms. Rosemarin. If you are uncomfortable, think of your list of accomplishments as sharing instead of bragging, she says.
2. Review a performance checklist.
Ask yourself the following questions about each of your previous jobs:
"Sometimes we are so busy working we don't realize how good we are," says Margaret Flynn, a career and communications consultant in Staten Island, N.Y. She also recommends enlisting the help of family, friends and former colleagues who may remember accomplishments that have slipped your mind.
One good source can be a spouse or friend who heard about your complaints and successes on a regular basis. Ask him or her what you bragged about or were proud of at work, says Deb Dib, president of Advantage Resumes in Medford, N.Y. You can also ask colleagues and vendors for their input. Ms. Dib suggests saying something like, "We had a great working relationship. What did you like best about working with me?"
3. Use job evaluations.
Dig through your old annual reviews and take note of what your supervisors praised you for, says Mr. Weitzman. Accomplishments may be listed on the evaluation. Reading some of the strengths that supervisors identified may help you think about how you used those strengths to meet goals.
When Joyce Irene de los Reyes, 26 years old, updated her resume, her first draft listed only her responsibilities. "When I went back and read my resume, I asked myself if there was anything that would make an interviewer look twice, and I wasn't satisfied," Ms. de los Reyes says. She used the written recommendations she received from each of her jobs to develop a list of accomplishments and recently landed a position as a technical support analyst for a software company in New Brunswick, N.J.
Haven't kept your old reviews? Call human resources at your previous employer and ask for them, suggests Mr. Weitzman. Depending on the company's policy, it may be possible to get them released.
Letters of recommendation and company newsletters in which employees were recognized by management may serve the same purpose, says Ms. Dib.
4. Measure your results.
Think about your performance, and apply numbers where possible, using percentages, dollar signs and time quantifiers, advises Ms. Rosemarin.
If you have increased profitability or decreased costs, list these accomplishments, says Mr. Weitzman. If you exceeded a goal, note the original goal. If you didn't hit your target, don't mention it, but use the number you did attain, he says. "Saving $100 million is still an accomplishment, even if the goal was $200 million," says Mr. Weitzman.
Time is a variable some job hunters may overlook. A simple way to incorporate it is to apply a time frame to projects that you completed ahead of schedule, says Ms. Rosemarin. For example: "Completed project three months before projected plans."
5. Cite recognition.
If your employer has recognized you with an award, cite it on your resume. Give an indication of the award's criteria so the recruiter can see why you were selected and what you accomplished.
If you were chosen to receive additional training or head special projects, these can also be considered accomplishments, says Ms. Rosemarin.
But make sure any award you cite is based on merit. "An award for working 20 years with the company," Mr. Weitzman notes, "just means you sat there for 20 years and is not an accomplishment."
Network Effectively Without Sinking Your Ship
How do you ensure smooth sailing without running aground? Here are some guidelines for effective networking that won’t sink your ship.
1. Make a commitment
Networking is your second job. Some studies cite that over 75 percent of jobs are found through networking. So whether looking for a new position or planning a future move, networking is the #1 thing you can do to improve your chance for success.
Too often job seekers begin networking in crisis mode, reaching out to colleagues only when panic has set in. This will not only undermine the effectiveness of your communications, it will lengthen your search. Instead, make communications with your network part of your daily routine. It will take some time to get a network established, but once in place it will be easy to maintain. Find a strategy that works for you and make it stick. Refer to Establishing Your Network for ideas on how to get started.
2. Networking is a two-way street
As an executive search professional I receive daily missives from individuals seeking help with their job search. When possible, I provide assistance, including donating time for career counseling, resume rewrites, networking strategies and referrals. On balance, I am more inclined to spend time with an individual who has built a foundation of good will, i.e., someone who has invested in a relationship with me or my firm. Unknown individuals who e-mail or call out of the blue, demanding assistance, do not rise to the top of my to-do list.
Networking is not only a voyage, its a two-way street. Don’t presume that people will help you because you deserve it. If you show zero interest in others except when you need help, your reputation will precede you. A network is built over a period of time and should be mutually beneficial. Initial (and follow-on) contacts should include offers of reciprocal help. And keep in touch regularly -- call your contacts when you don’t need assistance to maintain a collegial dialogue.
3. Leave emotion out of it.
When communicating to colleagues that you’ve been terminated or are planning to leave your current employer, abide by the old maxim, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” According to socials scientists, criticizing your boss for overbearing behavior may result in “spontaneous trait transference,” i.e., your colleagues may assign this trait to you.
Additionally, badmouthing a boss or employer to individuals in your network virtually guarantees this information will rebound to the slighted party or parties. Once apprised of your comments, they may be less inclined to provide referrals or positive references.
Be sure to respect this advice during job interviews. If you and your former boss were constantly butting heads, restrict your comments to, “We had different personalities and management styles,” rather than enumerating his or her perceived misdeeds. Your prospective employer will view you as a constructive realist, rather than a potential trouble maker.
4. Don’t disclose negative or confidential information
A corollary to point #3 is to avoid portraying your employer in a bad light. If your impending termination is part of a larger, planned downsizing, your “I’m being dumped” e-mail message to hundreds of contacts may pre-announce negative news for your company, leading to countless repercussions. Make sure you conduct yourself in a professional manner and leave with your bridges intact.
5. Know your audience
One of the things that irks me the most is when I receive e-mails from job seekers addressed to “Dear Sir.” Aside from the fact that their skills/experience are a mismatch with our firm’s largely high technology client base -- or they are seeking to be relocated from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Silicon Valley -- they have failed to even peruse our web site to send a properly addressed missive.
Know your audience. “Dear Sir” e-mails usually wind up in my Deleted Messages file.
Contrast this first approach with a job seeker who has taken the time to properly address his or her correspondence, and who takes the time to explain why our connection might make sense. It’s also helpful to mention the name of a shared contact or colleague; this creates an immediate connection and reference point. Caveat: Scrub these names carefully -- if your contact recently alienated one of my colleagues or a client, I may not view them favorably.
Don’t proffer a reference or cite a relationship without a legitimate connection. The CEO you claimed to play golf with every month (when truthfully you merely swapped golf stories on a redeye flight) might end up being the next-door neighbor of the HR Director or hiring manager. Make sure your references have cleared the use of their name before dropping it.
6. Don’t be a nuisance
I once had a job seeker who e-mailed me every week for several months seeking my assistance in finding him a job. Though I took the time initially to explain that our work was driven largely by client requirements, he remained convinced that I should be working on his behalf.
The last thing you want to do is alienate your network. Be respectful of people’s time, and make sure that each communication is fresh and original (i.e., don’t repeatedly send a form e-mail with the same introduction and content). If your network can help you, they will help you. Push too hard and you may wind up on a “blocked sender’s list.”
7. Keep informational interviews informal
Face-to-face informational meetings or interviews can be solid network builders. If budget and time permits, be proactive in scheduling brief meetings over coffee or lunch to solidify existing relationships and build new ones. Follow four rules: 1) keep it short, 2) be professional whether in a formal (e.g. office) or informal setting, 3) pick up the check, and 4) don’t try to close the deal. Rushing your contact or prospective boss into a commitment they are not ready to make can only prove disastrous.
Conversely, a feel-good meeting and emerging friendship will help you navigate rough seas ahead. Maintain a steady course and you’ll have a safe landing.
Top of Page
Top of Page
L.H. Daggett, Daggett & Associates
Candidates today must be increasingly sophisticated about their approach to job interviews. This is particularly true when interviewing with top brass for a senior-level job. Savvy managers know that their own continued success depends on hiring the very best people, and they will be rigorous in assessing candidate skills and strengths.
It is no longer adequate to draw on innate communications skills when navigating a series of high-level meetings. To be successful – and to win the coveted job – candidates must carefully research the company, its markets, and it its leadership. They must develop a clear understanding of company goals, the challenges facing the organization, and the resources it has to address them. Once these issues are evaluated and understood, a candidate must clearly demonstrate how his/her skills and knowledge can help the organization overcome obstacles and be increasingly successful.
To be successful in job interviews, candidates must embrace a process that addresses the orderly assimilation and use of information for competitive advantage. Here are some strategies to help you get started.
First Impressions Matter
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” addresses rapid cognition, or the kind of thinking that happens in the blink of an eye. I recently had a candidate cite “Blink” when pulling himself from contention for a high-level opportunity; his interview first impressions were not consistent with his professional goals.
We might like to think that first impressions can be overcome by second impressions, but this is often not so. A failed first impression may preclude a second chance. Given this, it is absolutely essential that candidates approach every single interview session as a one shot, make or break, best foot forward situation. Don’t rely on fate to intervene:
It is essential that you prepare for an interview with extensive research on the company, its markets/products, its competitors, and the management team. You need to know what keeps management up at night, and be prepared to share how you might help overcome the company’s most pressing challenges.
Too often I find when reviewing resumes that candidates talk indefinitely about their job duties rather than articulating what they’ve accomplished. This is not only redundant, it’s a waste of time and you certainly don’t want to bog down on trivialities during an interview. Be prepared to show your worth.
Certain behavioral attributes have been shown in numerous studies to be predictors of performance or leadership success. While each study focuses on a slightly different set of criteria, common attributes include initiative, influence, leadership, self-confidence, achievement/ambition, innovation, optimism, self-awareness, flexibility and strong communications skills.
This is the cardinal sin of interviewing. Even a white lie or minor exaggeration will eventually come back to bite you. Never ever misrepresent your experience, stature, compensation or any other aspect of your professional career. Companies today regularly perform background checks, salary verifications, and reference checks that will quickly uncover any misrepresentation, a cause for firing.
That’s it. Follow these steps and you will increase your competitive advantage when seeking your next dream job. Good luck!
NAME: Greg Bulmash.
SEX: Not yet. Still waiting for the right person.
DESIRED POSITION: Company President or Vice President. But seriously, whatever’s available. If I were in the position to be picky, I wouldn’t be applying here in the first place.
DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitz-style severance package. If that’s not possible, make and offer and we can haggle.
LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.
SALARY: Less than I’m worth.
MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.
REASON FOR LEAVING: It s- - - - - - .
HOURS AVAILABLE TO WORK: Any.
PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30 to 3:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS? Yes, but they’re better suited to a more intimate environment.
MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER? If I had one, would I be here?
DO YOU HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS THAT WOULD PROHIBIT YOU FROM LIFTING UP TO 50 POUNDS? Of what?
DO YOU HAVE A CAR? I think the more appropriate question here would be “Do you have a car that runs?”
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION? I may already be a winner of the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes.
DO YOU SMOKE? On the job, no, on my breaks yes.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS? Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy sexy blond super model who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I’d like to be doing that now.
DO YOU CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE IS TRUE AND COMPLETE TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE?
SIGN HERE: Aries.