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Rock My Resume: Fazal Mirza
August 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm #138001
Q: Why do you want your resume reviewed?
A: Current resume structure is outdated.
Q: What is your current situation (employed, seeking, etc.)?
A: Federally employed as a Contract Specialist w/DOT in DC.
Q: Where are you in the process (submitted resumes, applied for jobs, etc.)?
A: Reviewing details of an announcement that is to close on 08/30/11.
Q: What’s the main issue you’re encountering?
A: Need to summarize all my experiences short and simplified up front, and reduce the size of my resume.
Q: Can you share 1 link to a job you’re interested in applying for?
A: USA Jobs Job Announcement Number: DHSDH11-399069 DHS – Contract Specialist
September 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm #138004
Fazal, thanks for participating in the Rock Your Resume Group. You have a lot of GREAT experience in the federal government and I know the government is always looking for great people in procurement.
I agree with you that your current resume format is a bit outdated. In fact, it is really hard to find information on your resume that is relevant because there is SO MUCH information.
Therefore, I’m going to make two suggestions: that you use the USAJobs resume building and that you reformat your resume into the Modified Chronological format.
Before I get into those two points, a few smaller items that I think will help you as well.
First, your name doesn’t need to be larger than the rest of the text on your resume—it can be read at 11 pt or 24 pt.
Second, do not use tables or templates in Microsoft Word to format your resume. If you send a Word version of your resume, employers can see the lines of the table and sometimes converting it to PDF can mess things up.
Third, I’m not a big fan of listing all the skills you have at the end. Instead or in addition, you should be building those skills into the bullet points you have later in your resume. Employers are not as concerned about the skills you have as much as they are about how you used or are using those skills to bring value to an organization. Anyone can use MS Office, but no one else can do it as successfully as you did in the environment and with the people with whom you did it.
However, there are some who say that listing as many key words as you can on your resume, whether they are in the bullet point or not will help you get noticed. If that works for you, then I say do it. I just don’t know how impactful a list of skills out of context really improves a resume.
For the first two points:
If you haven’t already, you 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. The format you are using now is not dramatically different nor is it a bad format. My sense is they won’t be able to find what they are looking for as easily as if you used the USAJobs resume builder.
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.
What you have now are long lists of bullet points that highlight “one-off” things you have done or give details without much context. 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.
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 weren’t 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.
Avoid using verbs like conduct, perform, administer, support, assist, maintain, or the really old and tired phrase “responsibilities included.” Those are really passive verbs and don’t give you nearly as much credit as you deserve. Try to start each bullet point with an action verb that is the exact same word as you found in the job description.
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.”
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