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Rock My Resume – Jonathan Gaines
September 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm #140803
Hi Resume Reviewers,
Thank you in advance for the review!
Here is my information:
-Why do you want your resume reviewed?
I would really appreciate some feedback on how to strengthen my resume for federal jobs. I’ve heard that it is important to include as many impact words for the job as possible. However, I’m afraid all that to many details can make my resume too long and hurt my chances.
-What is your current situation (employed, seeking, etc.)?
I am a full time developer for the SC Department of Revenue.
-Where are you in the process (submitted resumes, applied for jobs, etc.)?
I submitted resumes for federal as well as private sector jobs. So far I have not had much luck getting through the system and interviewed.
-What’s the main issue you’re encountering?
Getting a resume that meets the needs and requirements for the job and showing my experience in the most positive way.
-Can you share 1 link to a job you’re interested in applying for?
I attached a job description.
I look forward to your feedback and suggestions!
October 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm #140809
Jonathan, Thanks for uploading your resume to Rock Your Resume.
I apologize that it taken me a while to get you my thoughts and suggestions.
To start, I’m going to suggest that, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Accomplishments and Achievements: SO WHAT!!
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
Finally, it appears that you have not included some of the words and terms from the position you posted in your resume. To determine that, I pasted the text below from the position description into http://www.wordle.net.
“Serve as an incident handler for USACE and ACE-IT. Assistance and direction is provided to enterprise service desk, desktop technicians, managers, general users/customers, and other stake-holders. Incumbent shall monitor enterprise firewall, system, anti-virus, proxy, virtual private networks (VPN), and intrusion detection system (IDS) logs utilizing the features of the provided tools and log correlation programs, preferring experience with ArcSight and IntelliTactics for indications of a potential intrusion or violation of existing USACE, Army, or Department of Defense (DoD) policies, implement or recommend solutions for the isolation of the system(s) involved, oversee the eradication and recovery of the effected systems, ensure the timely and accurate upward reporting to other organizations within USACE and Army, and identify the root-cause of the incident and recommend/implement the necessary changes to ensure enterprise correction of the misconfiguration/vulnerability, while accurately documenting results at each stage, preserving evidence where possible, and remaining focused on protection of USACE assets and restoration of service to affected users. Provides summary reports and trending information for all incidents to the ACE-IT Director and Deputy Director on a quarterly basis, highlighting repeated problem areas and recommended corrections with careful attention to detail in order to separate fact from opinion and speculation.”
It showed me that the main words in that brief description do not appear often in your resume like: enterprise, system, or data. The wordle output is attached. As you correctly mentioned in your original comments, successful resumes contain the key words an employer uses in the job announcement.
October 31, 2011 at 9:26 pm #140807
Hey Jonathan. If you can get your updated resume posted by end of the week, you’ll be in the running for “Total Resume Makeover” for the month of October. Thanks! – Andy (GovLoop Community Manager)
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