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Rock My Resume: Chelsea Booth
September 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm #141789
1. Why do you want your resume reviewed?
I’ve transitioned from an academic career to government as a Presidential Management Fellow. I’ll be sending out my resume in an attempt to secure the best rotational assignments possible. This means I need to represent myself as strongly as I can so I can gain the skills crucial for my job conversion at the end of my two years.
2. What is your current situation?
I’m employed as a Public Health Advisor (PMF).
3. Where are you in the process?
I’m in the middle of my first rotation, but will need to find four more for next year.
4. What’s the main issue you’re encountering?
I have two related issues. First, I have no background in Public Health…and this is pretty clear. I’ve tried to highlight the transferrable skills from my academic career, but I’m not sure I’m succeeding. Second, people (for obvious reasons) tend to focus on the ‘academic’ side of my career and don’t necessarily see all the management/leadership experience I’ve had within that academic sphere.
5. Link to a job you’re interested in–
There isn’t a specific position, and within my fellowship I can essentially create short-term positions just about anywhere. My goal is to highlight my leadership/management/organizational skills.
October 31, 2011 at 8:57 pm #141806
Hi Chelsea – Congrats on being a PMF! And thanks for your patience in us getting your resume reviewed. You are now in the queue for November, so you should receive a review soon. If you have any more intel on a specific agency or type of position, please let us know. Thanks – Andy (GovLoop Community Manager)
November 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm #141804
Thanks! I’m glad to hear that I’m up for this month! I’m currently at SAMHSA and really enjoy the work here…so let’s make that my target agency. The plan is to be a GPO for 2-3 years, supervisor for 2 years after that, then branch chief, then division director [as a 15-20 year goal]. Hope this helps!
November 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm #141802
Do you have a link to a specific job that would interest you? One of the keys to the review is tailoring it to an announcement. Got an example of something open right now where you’d like to apply?
November 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm #141800
November 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm #141798
Thanks, Chelsea…your review will happen soon!
November 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm #141796
Thanks so much for sharing your resume with us, Chelsea. You have been up to a lot and you have a ton of great experience and congrats on getting the PMF!
I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on your resume, because it gives me a chance to talk a bit about the differences between a federal resume and a CV style, which is what you have.
It makes sense that you would have a CV because you recently finished your doctorate (congrats!) and that environment encourages and supports a more academically focused resume, especially if you plan on finding a faculty position.
Although CVs should be tailored to fit every position, like all resumes, they do not normally require that you focus heavily on the skills and accomplishments of your experience as you do on the duties and responsibilities. You do have a few bullet points at the beginning that do focus on skills and accomplishments, but throughout most of your current resume you use terms like “Responsible for,” “Served,” “Assisted,” and “Duties included.” Those do not show an employer what they did, how they did it, what they accomplished/achieved, and how they impacted the organization will not get an interview, let alone the position.
There is no data on your resume more important than your accomplishments. Think of it this way: you’re a hiring manager with one position to fill and 10 qualified candidates clamoring for the position. Each candidate has the same basic educational and professional background. The candidate who clearly shows how their work added value at past positions will appear most attractive. Accomplishments are all that separate you from other equally qualified candidates.
If you don’t share how your work affected an organization or how your output was used, they won’t get the full picture. They could be left asking ―So What!‖ After you write each bullet point, ask yourself that question—―So What? What’s the end of the story?‖ And whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments.
Sometimes it’s very hard to come up with an achievement for a bullet point, or you may not have specific percentages of growth or effectiveness. In place of measurable accomplishments, give as much detail as you can. If you used a specific software or theory mention it. Did you consult with secondary AND primary resources for your research? What was the title and purpose of the conference you organized? Were your foreign language abilities necessary to complete the task?
A good tool for writing quality position descriptions is the CCAR method:
C = Context
C = Challenge
A = Action
R = Result
If you are having a hard time finding the ―end‖ of your story, try using a Skills Matrix:
Action (How did you do it?)
(accomplishment, value-added, how your work was used)
Negotiated t-shirt price
Compared competitor prices, communicated price difference to company of choice
Save organization money or
35% savings totaling $2,800.
Research & Analysis
You can still include all of your grants, research, awards, etc. later in your federal resume as you do now. In fact, depending on the position to which you are applying, you should consider including some of you grants and field research activities into your professional experience section. Those are great experiences that you do not want to bury in your document.
Let’s talk a bit about resume format too. What you have now is good, and moving a few things around and presenting the information a bit differently will help.
If you haven’t already, you should use the USAJobs resume builder to create your resume. Although many federal employers may not like the USAJobs resume style, they are used to it and will recognize it immediately.
Modified Chronological Format
The other thing that will help your presentation is to use a “modified chronological” format. This is a hybrid version of the functional and chronological that is organized in reverse chronological order, but has subsections focused on the skills sets the employer has said they need.
Each description, then, has longer bullet points that are focused on specific skill sets determined by the job announcement. For example, a recent client of mine was applying to a position at a university that had a number of distinctive requirements. He had a number of shorter bullet points that were not cohesive or understandable, so I suggested something like this:
- Recruitment and Marketing ‑ Develop employer outreach strategy and marketing plan, requiring relationship and network building in all sectors and publication of the first brochure sent to over 5,000 contacts around the world. The number of employers holding on-campus recruiting events almost doubled in this timeframe and the number of employers participating in the annual Employer Site Visit program increased 50%.
- Communications – Customize and administer, in conjunction with director, the web-based career management system, which gives student and alumni 24-hour access to job and internship announcements, an event calendar, employer contacts, and career-related documents.
- Project Evaluation ‑ Create and administer electronic surveys and evaluations for students and alumni in order to organize relevant and timely workshops, seminars, and career fairs. Attendance at events increased over the past four years including twice as many employers participating in the Elliott School career fair from 35 (2001) to 74 (2005).
- Training ‑ Advise students and alumni on career plans, job search strategy, organizational research, professional development opportunities, resume writing, informational interviewing, salary negotiation, and networking techniques. Review 200-250 resumes and cover letters per year.
(When using the USAJobs resume building, you won’t be able to bold anything. So for all the bolded words above, you can use all caps. In fact, any key words you use should be in all caps, even if it is in the middle of a bullet point.)
That kind of bullet point pulls together the skill sets he used (developing, implementing, creating), what/who/how/why he did these things, and his accomplishments. And it focuses the employer’s attention on those skills sets the employ said it needed. It also gives much more context to the employer and the sense that my student’s work had a much broader impact.
You don’t want to have massive bullet points for every skill set, just those that highlight the things that mean the most to the employer.
Another way of laying this out is to have several bullet points under one sub heading like:
Strategic Planning and Policy Development
- Develop strategic plan for new one-person career development office, monitor program budget, and serve on Executive Committee for school that has grown by 80% in 3 years.
- Identify career development needs of 450 MPA, MPP, and PhD students, implement appropriate programs and services, and offer support to 3200 alumni. Approximately 95% of all alumni are employed six months after graduation.
- Establish systems to ensure seamless coordination with Student Disability Services, Counseling Services, and International Services Office to help clients with special physical, mental, emotional, and legal needs.
- Evaluate financial aid process for graduate students and collaborate with upper management to review and develop process to decrease waiting time to receive confirmation with purpose of increasing student recruitment and retention.
- Assess personnel needs of school according to mission and present reclassifications and proposals for new staff members to director and faculty.
Along with this structure, I find it useful to write these using a “project management” mindset. In other words, your bullet points should not be brief descriptions of individual activities, but they should show that you were involved in a much larger project.
Finally, it is important that the last sub-section of every position description be a “Key Accomplishments” section. Federal HR professionals like to see a section that highlights you key accomplishments for every position. These accomplishments can be awards, recognitions, commendations, and even a retelling of those things your mentioned in the sub-sections above the Key Accomplishments. It is a good idea to flesh-out those key accomplishments from your bullet points, because they may have been buried in the project management style of writing.
For example, the second bullet point above, under Strategic Planning and Policy Development mentions an accomplishment, but it is slightly buried. Therefore, one of the bullet points under Key Accomplishments could be “95% of recent graduates successfully found professional positions six months after graduation, the highest historical success rate.”
Of course, this means that every organization you describe will take up a lot of space. I am not an advocate for writing long federal resumes just to get as much information onto the page as possible. I do believe, however, it is very important to give the employer all the information you can that directly relates to their needs. The more you can do that, the more likely it is you will be moved forward in the process, even if your federal resume is 5+ pages.
Two small points.
- I would suggest not using the same resume header from the first page on all subsequent pages. Doing this takes up a lot of space on the subsequent pages and if someone finds only one page of your resume, they may think it is the first page
- Remove “References” section. Of course you’ll send them references. Why do you need to assure them it will happen? This just takes up space and is superfluous.
I hope this has clarify the differences between a CV and a federal resume, and that you think these points are valuable.
November 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm #141794
Thank you for your detailed response..this was a very helpful explanation of the differences between the two and how to get the best from the CV into the resume.
I clearly have a great deal of editing and reworking to do and will be able to do so with your suggestions. This is really fantastic.
December 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm #141792
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