Bennett Quillen's Blog

Information and Technology Services Professional

Month: July, 2013

RESUME TIPS by BENNETT QUILLEN

1. What IS a resume anyway?

Remember: a Resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview.
It’s not an official personnel document. It’s not a job application. It’s not a “career obituary”! And it’s not a confessional.

2. What should the resume content be about?
It’s not just about past jobs! It’s about YOU, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs–especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next. A good resume predicts how you might perform in that desired future job.

3. What’s the fastest way to improve a resume?
Remove everything that starts with “responsibilities included” and replace it with on-the-job accomplishments. (See Tip 11 for one way to write them.)

4. What is the most common resume mistake made by job hunters?
Leaving out their Job Objective! If you don’t show a sense of direction, employers won’t be interested. Having a clearly stated goal doesn’t have to confine you if it’s stated well.

5. What’s the first step in writing a resume?
Decide on a job target (or “job objective”) that can be stated in about 5 or 6 words. Anything beyond that is probably “fluff” and indicates a lack of clarity and direction.

6. How do you decide whether to use a Chronological resume or a Functional one? The Chronological format is widely preferred by employers, and works well if you’re staying in the same field (especially if you’ve been upwardly-mobile). Only use a Functional format if you’re changing fields, and you’re sure a skills-oriented format would show off your transferable skills to better advantage; and be sure to include a clear chronological work history!

7. What if you don’t have any experience in the kind of work you want to do?
Get some! Find a place that will let you do some volunteer work right away. You only need a brief, concentrated period of volunteer training (for example, 1 day a week for a month) to have at least SOME experience to put on your resume.  Also, look at some of the volunteer work you’ve done in the past and see if any of THAT helps document some skills you’ll need for your new job.

8. What do you do if you have gaps in your work experience?
You could start by looking at it differently.

General Rule: Tell what you WERE doing, as gracefully as possible–rather than leave a gap.
If you were doing anything valuable (even if unpaid) during those so-called “gaps”, you could just insert THAT into the work-history section of your resume to fill the hole. Here are some examples:

 

  • 2002 – 2010 Full-time parent — or
  • 2002 – 2004 Maternity leave and family management — or
  • Travel and study — or Full-time student — or
  • Parenting plus community service

9. What if you have several different job objectives you’re working on at the same time? Or you haven’t narrowed it down yet to just one job target?
Then write a different resume for each different job target. A targeted resume is MUCH, much stronger than a generic resume.

10. What if you have a fragmented, scrambled-up work history, with lots of short-term jobs?
To minimize the job-hopper image, combine several similar jobs into one “chunk,” for example:

  • 2009 – 2011 Secretary/Receptionist; Jones Bakery, Micro Corp., Carter Jewelers — or
  • 2010 – 2012 Waiter/Busboy; McDougal’s Restaurant, Burger King, Traders Coffee Shop.

Also you can just drop some of the less important, briefest jobs. But don’t drop a job, even when it lasted a short time, if that was where you acquired important skills or experience.

11. What’s the best way to impress an employer?
Fill your resume with “PAR” statements. PAR stands for Problem-Action-Results; in other words, first you state the problem that existed in your workplace, then you describe what you did about it, and finally you point out the beneficial results.

Here’s an example: “Transformed a disorganized, inefficient warehouse into a smooth-running operation by totally redesigning the layout; this saved the company thousands of dollars in recovered stock.”

Another example: “Improved an engineering company’s obsolete filing system by developing a simple but sophisticated functional-coding system. This saved time and money by recovering valuable, previously lost, project records.”

12. What if your job title doesn’t reflect your actual level of responsibility?
When you list it on the resume, either replace it with a more appropriate job title (say “Office Manager” instead of “Administrative Assistant” if that’s more realistic) OR use their job title AND your fairer one together, i.e. “Administrative Assistant (Office Manager)”

13. How can you avoid age discrimination?
If you’re over 40 or 50 or 60, remember that you don’t have to present your entire work history!

 

You can simply label THAT part of your resume “Recent Work History” or “Relevant Work History” and then describe only the last 10 or 15 years of your experience. Below your 10-15 year work history, you could add a paragraph headed “Prior relevant experience” and simply refer to any additional important (but ancient) jobs without mentioning dates.

14. What if you never had any “real” paid jobs — just self-employment or odd jobs? Give yourself credit, and create an accurate, fair job-title for yourself. For example:

  • A&S Hauling & Cleaning (Self-employed) — or
  • Household Repairman, Self-employed — or
  • Child-Care, Self-employed

Be sure to add “Customer references available on request” and then be prepared to provide some very good references of people you worked for.

15. How far back should you go in your Work History?
Far enough; and not too far! About 10 or 15 years is usually enough – unless your “juiciest” work experience is from farther back.

16. How can a student list summer jobs?
Students can make their resume look neater by listing seasonal jobs very simply, such as “Spring 1996” or “Summer 1996” rather than 6/96 to 9/96. (The word “Spring” can be in very tiny letters, say 8-point in size.)

17. What if you don’t quite have your degree or credentials yet?
You can say something like:

  • Eligible for U.S. credentials — or
  • Graduate studies in Instructional Design, in progress — or
  • Master’s Degree anticipated December 2014

18. What if you worked for only one employer for 20 or 30 years?
Then list separately each different position you held there, so your job progression within the company is more obvious.

19. What about listing hobbies and interests?
Don’t include hobbies on a resume unless the activity is somehow relevant to your job objective, or clearly reveals a characteristic that supports your job objective. For example, a hobby of Sky Diving (adventure, courage) might seem relevant to some job objectives (Security Guard?) but not to others.

20. What about revealing race or religion?
Don’t include ethnic or religious affiliations (inviting pre-interview discrimination) UNLESS you can see that including them will support your job objective. Get an opinion from a respected friend or colleague about when to reveal, and when to conceal, your affiliations.

21. What if your name is Robin Williams?
Don’t mystify the reader about your gender; they’ll go nuts until they know whether you’re male or female. So if your name is Lee or Robin or Pat or anything else not clearly male or female, use a Mr. or Ms. prefix.

22. What if you got your degree from a different country?
You can say “Degree equivalent to U.S. Bachelor’s Degree in Economics-Teheran, Iran.”

23. What about “fancy-schmancy” paper?
Employers tell me they HATE parchment paper and pretentious brochure-folded resume “presentations.” They think they’re phony, and toss them right out. Use plain white or ivory, in a quality appropriate for your job objective. Never use colored paper unless there’s a very good reason for it (like, you’re an artist) because if it gets photocopied the results will be murky.

24. Should you fold your resume?
Don’t fold a laser-printed resume right along a line of text. The “ink” could flake off along the fold.

WHAT DO EMPLOYERS WANT?

What are the most desirable qualities for job seekers in the 2013 workplace?

1. Willingness to share information and ideas.

2. Commitment to teamwork.

3. Responsiveness to change.

4. Ability to work under pressure.

5. Sense of ownership of work and ideas.

6. Willingness to take calculated risks, without fear of consequences.

7. Multicultural experience and/or ability to speak multiple languages.

8. Ability to communicate clearly and honestly with peers, managers, customers.

9. Understanding of business strategy and how you create shareholder value.

10. Commitment to continuous learning, skill development.

11. Avoid sending a resume as an email attachment. Reasons?

You need to know what types of resumes this particular employer is prepared to accept. That is the fundamental question. Many employers now spell out their preferred formats. Try to find that out before sending your resume, and follow instructions.

If you can’t find specific instructions, think about what will make it easiest for the reader to deal with your resume. Here are some considerations:

 

When your resume is INCLUDED in the body of your e-mail:
– There is no need for the recipient to open another document.
– The ASCII format can be sent to any other format by the recipient.
– The resume could be printed directly from the email program.
– The resume content could be sent to a database for further processing.

When your resume is ATTACHED to your E-mail:
– It requires work from the recipient (opening the attachment) to get to your information, and every second counts.
– The recipient would have to feel motivated to open the attachment. (It helps if your resume grabs their attention in the top half of the visible screen.)
– The recipient needs to have compatible software to open the attachment.
– The attachment may not be compatible with the recipient’s computer platform; e.g. the recipient may have a strong preference about the format of any attachments (.html, .rtf, .txt, etc.).
– The recipient may be reluctant to open attachments for fear of viruses.

Corporate Computing Needs New Sartorial Splendor by Bennett B Quillen

In the use of technology to transform business, it has often delivered poorly and presented itself as rather shabbily attired.

Computers and the internet were meant to put business on a new footing. Newly available information would make everything smarter, from corporate supply chains to the strategic decisions of senior executives. Entire new business models would be made possible: any company that failed to adapt risked extinction.

It has not worked out quite as planned. Despite all it has promised – and in some cases delivered – the explosion of information technology has failed to live up to the hype. Corporate information systems have become complex, ungainly and difficult to manage.

Somewhere in the late 1990s and early 21st century, amid the high-tech innovation, something seems to have gone badly awry. There has been a backlash: instead of being an area that corporate executives looked at to give them a competitive advantage, IT has gone back to what it was before the 1990s boom in wishful thinking: a management headache.

Big IT projects are complex and difficult to make work, with a frighteningly high failure rate. Corporate spending on IT has become an expense to be reined in, not indulged. And the maturing of the wave of technology that arrived with the internet has left companies asking what they got for their money.

The latest symptom of this malaise has been a questioning of the strategic significance of technology to business. What real competitive advantage can be gained from technology, if it is equally available to your competitors? Like electricity and the telephone, it may be a necessity; but also like them, it may have little impact on a company’s real competitive position.

Faced with skepticism of the benefits of technology, the industry is preparing for its next big push: processing in the “cloud”. The real transformation of business still lies ahead, according to this view. It will happen when corporate IT systems operate flawlessly and work together seamlessly. And while the technology itself may not confer an instant competitive advantage, its effective application is vital to business success.

But can technology companies overcome the shortcomings of the past to fulfill this promise? And how will corporate buyers of IT, still dealing with the after-effects of their last wave of spending, react to the claims?

Consider the sources of the problem.

Perhaps the biggest was the arrival of a new computing architecture that liberated users from the tyranny of the mainframe, but exposed a failure in technology management.

This client-server architecture brought new control to the individual user in the shape of a desktop PC. It also handed power to IT (and lines of business) managers, making it easier to develop department-level applications to run the processes that seemed vital in the new internet era. But in the process, the larger corporate picture was lost, consistency was forfeited and IT costs actually increased.

A second source of the problem has been the incompleteness of the technology. While individual applications have proliferated, the tools needed to coordinate and focus them have been lacking.  There is a major gap between technology results and business needs.

This leads to the third reason for technology’s disappointment: its failure to align it with business management. Technology companies tend to blame customers for failing to understand how deeply new IT systems impact their business processes, while the users blame technology for being too rigid.

One symptom has been the high failure rate of IT projects. Too many projects are taken on with faith and without the basic project management being in place.   Large number of IT projects fail or simply do not deliver on promises.

Another symptom is the low utilization of corporate IT assets. During the boom, many companies added servers and storage every time they introduced a new department-level IT application. As a result, considerably less than half of this IT capacity is actually used.

And finally, it is the high cost of maintaining corporate information systems. More than half the money big companies spend on IT is used to employ an army of technicians.

So, what is the answer to this crisis in corporate computing?

The IT industry’s prescription and make over need to take the hard work out of building and managing IT systems, freeing companies to concentrate on using the technology to its potential.

The main features of the promised new generation of corporate IT systems are:

Integration. The need to weave together the disparate applications is the most pressing issue facing chief information officers.

Much rests on the development of industry-wide technical standards that allow interoperability of different IT systems and mobile devices e.g. tablets and laptops. In the past, tech companies focused much of their effort on developing and maintaining their own proprietary technologies. This strategy was sold as essential to maintaining high profit margins. Most now claim to see the world differently.

The result is that many companies, particularly financial institutions, are now outsourcing their transaction-oriented, commodity based applications.  This permits them to focus on technology development and deployment, either internally or via third parties, to potentially set them apart from the herd.

Automation. The key to keeping down the soaring headcount in corporate IT departments revolves around creating technology that can maintain itself. This is the flip side of outsourcing: it drives down the cost of processing.

Virtualization. By using the internet to link corporate IT assets together, it may be possible to tap unused computing or storage resources more efficiently. Turning all these assets into one giant “virtual” machine holds out the promise of sharing work out where it can be handled most effectively. This is the ubiquitous cloud promulgated by the likes of IBM, Google and other corporate giants.

Utility computing. Once IT systems have been better integrated and virtualized, it will become easier, in theory, for companies to tap into specialist utility companies to supply some or all their computing needs. Then companies will be able to decide whether they want to stay in the business of building and maintaining technology or whether this is best left to outside suppliers.

The irony behind the convergence of cloud based processing and proliferation of internet based applications is the resurgence of mainframe processing. 

All of these efforts are geared towards one end: genuinely clothe IT in sartorial splendor to serve enterprise’s interests better.