Hiring authorities have the pleasure of writing … ugh … job descriptions! Second only to writing a resume in terms of dreadfulness, at least the need in the organization helps to define the task. Pre-existing organizational, functional, hierarchical, and budgetary factors frame the need-to-haves and nice-to-haves. Interestingly, I’ve never seen a job description include the ability to write a good resume as a key selection criterion. Unfortunately, every job candidate is measured, in some way or another, by the dreaded resume.
Just last week I saw a colo firm decline to interview a CEO candidate because his resume was organized by function rather than chronology. We saw another senior sales candidate rejected by a managed services provider because the formatting of his resume left too much white space. Humans. Unpredictable at every turn, especially when the most variable commodity on earth attempts to package itself on a very standard 8 x 11 inch piece of paper or two.
If it’s not apparent, I’m not a big fan of resumes, but like death, taxes, and outages, they are inevitable for the significant majority of job seekers. So kick it up a notch. Instead of putting to paper a laundry list of ...yawn … past accomplishments, shift your mindset. Put what you do that is valuable in the context of a future company’s best interest. Consider putting a business plan together and presenting it so that a bank or group of investors might view you and your skill set in a different light. Look at yourself in the eyes of the potential employer and consider what they should know about the value you are going to bring for their investment. What is it that you endeavor to do and what have you done in the past to substantiate your proposition?
Ironically, my daily grind is filled reading that which I now criticize, so I’m a qualified cynic. I make the same assumptions that prospective employers do, except that I’m a speed-reader and now a speed-assumer—and you know what happens when you assume too much. But the moral of the story here is that I’m not often wrong. There are simply characteristics and patterns of professional histories that are tried and tested. There are always exceptions to the rule of thumb, of course, but I’d like to outline six keys to the successful use of a resume.
• Tenure.Since the dotcom bomb days ended, career change velocity has gone the way of chiller plant capital expenditures. Prospective employers are looking to mitigate their risk on their investment in your career and find impact players. Given the data center industry’s current rate of growth, impact players are shouldering ever-increasing responsibilities. One must get his or her head around what’s going on before action plans result. Actions take time to execute. Results from these actions are measured as impact. Impact doesn’t happen overnight.
• Target.This does not mean customize. No one likes a suck up. Write a resume that sells your credentials as you see them as valuable. Share this resume with a specific person with a specific title at a limited and qualified set of companies you have researched to determine your skill set is needed and valued. Knowing your audience is respecting your audience. Don’t make someone else out to be Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield was a smart guy by the way. In the midst of his historically funny routines, I found this gem, “Men who do things without being told draw the most wages.”
• Don’t be active.At the risk of appearing like I’m contradicting myself, understand the context of the word active. Active job seekers are those without a current job or in fear of losing their current role who are actively searching for new employment. You’ll find a nauseatingly strong correlation pattern between active job seekers and short tenures. Even if you are active, try not to let it show. It sort of hurts your compensation negotiation leverage.
• Chronology. Yes, what you did for who, where, and for how long matters. The motivations, frustrations, and general impetus for your career changes often says more about you than what you accomplished in the interim stops. “I recognized that the owners weren’t interested in investing in cloud infrastructure” as a motivation to change trumps, “I only received a 5 percent increase in my base pay last year and they didn’t give out holiday bonuses.”
• Company descriptions.Failing to present the context of your accomplishments undercuts the value of those contributions. Failing to describe the company where you worked adequately makes it hard to convey what you really accomplished. “ACME Colo1, headquartered in Liebert, TX, is a growing colocation and managed services company three locations with 35 lovely employees caring for 40,000 sq ft of white space” is light years different in terms of your experience and value than “ACME Colo2, with 32,000 people in 10 locations throughout North America brings innovative system integration solutions to the F500.”
• No BS.If you have gaps in your work tenures don’t cover it up. If a prospective employer can’t appreciate that bad things sometimes happen to good people, don’t wait around for them to get over themselves. Believe in yourself. Conviction is a remarkably appealing trait. Oh, and be forward thinking more often so as not to have gaps in your resume.
• Version what?Does anyone want to receive the fourth version of your resume, specifically crafted to appeal to a pre-determined audience? “John_J_Pue_overview_resume_kinda_shortversion_4.7 NOC_and_Ops.doc” Come on!? Start with your own identity and respect the people enough who read it to digest it the way they see fit. A simple John Doe’s resume designation will suffice. Save the title sets for your internal use.
Now, what to do with that shiny new high horsepower resume? Network! Warm leads and organic growth born out of familiarity and longstanding relationships not only rule the majority of healthy hires, the strongest tenures predictably follow. What if you don’t have a strong network? There’s no time like the present to start. I’ve heard this social media thing is popular. Have a plan and venture forth to share with your new target audience the value they will derive by recognizing the best in you.
Reprints of this article are available by contacting Jill DeVries at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 248-244-1726.