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Rock My Resume: Michelle K. Massie
July 11, 2011 at 4:15 am #134921
I would like my resume to be reviewed because I have been applying for job openings but I am not getting any calls for interviews. I am back on the job market and I would like to be a viable and marketable candidate. I also have had a number of jobs over the past several years and I want to position myself in away where I do not look like a job-hopper.
I am currently employed full-time but actively seeking a new position.
In regards to where I am in the process, I have submitted resumes and applied to numerous jobs–both federal positions and jobs not in the public sector. I have not had an interview however, since the Spring.
The main issues I am encountering are trying to shake off the badge of “job-hopper” and not getting any interviews.
Here are a couple links to jobs that I am interested in applying for (one non-profit and the other academic):
August 16, 2011 at 1:44 am #134924
Thanks for participating in Rock Your Resume, Michelle. You do have a lot of great experience under your belt and I think your resume is very readable and easy on the eyes.
Usually when someone tells me that their interview to application ratio is very small, I look first at the resume. The issue is usually how their information is being presented to employers that is the main source of the problem. In your case, I think this is the issue as well, but you have a great foundation from which we can start.
First of all, you are using a straight functional format instead of a chronological. This is a great structure to use when you have had a number of positions in a short amount of time. In your case, though, I really don’t think the number of positions you have held is that much of a detriment, especially in this economic climate.
What may be hurting you more than anything is the functional resume format. Although it is a good format, most employers don’t like it because they don’t understand it. They often wonder why an applicant wouldn’t follow the usual chronological structure, and in fact, they think the applicant is trying to hide something.
Therefore, my suggestion to you 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 under each position, 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.
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 Partnership Building, one of their key needs. It also gives much more context to the employer and the sense that his 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.
Also, you need to look at your descriptions from the perspective of the person reading your resume and ask yourself these questions: “So what? Is this what I need?” Most of what you have written now would not give them what they need.
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.
Whenever you find it hard to avoid starting your bullet points with “Assisted” or “Helped,” break down what you did into manageable parts that you can describe. Everything you do relates to a skill set that an employer will find useful as long as you present it as such.
For example, the second bullet point under Program Management on your resume starts “Helped to develop, implement, and monitor work plans for key initiatives and activities…” This is a good description because it highlights important skills and gives good background and context. But why start with “Helped”? Why not start with “Developed, implemented, and monitored work plans for key initiatives…”? That is a much more active description. And if you did in fact do it as part of a team, then you can write that in there too: “… as part of a team of five chosen by senior managers.”
For federal resumes, it is a great idea to include a subsection under every position titled: “Key Accomplishments.” This is a good thing to do to highlight any recognition you received and other accomplishments, and even reemphasize some of the things you mentioned in the earlier bullet points.
The most important thing is that you always focus on what the employer wants. That means, using the words and phrases they use to describe your experiences. When you do that, they will find it very easy to understand how you fit with their needs.
I’m not sure if the resume you sent in was written for either of the positions you gave as examples. Actually, to be honest, I hope this resume wasn’t used for the Communications/Government Affairs Associate position at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (the other position closed so I wasn’t able to see it). I say that because I don’t see too many of the key words and phrases from the job announcement in your resume. One of the most important skills they are looking for is “development.” You do use that word in your resume six times, but twice as titles of programs and once as a nonprofit certification.
Attached is a pdf of that position from Idealist with a few key words and phrases highlighted. You should translate your resume and cover letter to fit this language every time you submit an application. I’m not suggesting that you lie and make things up, but I am suggesting that you make it easier for the employer to find what they are looking for. You are a good writer, so I’m sure you can do that without too many problems.
I don’t understand the purpose of the “Learning Focus” section of your resume. Is this similar to a Professional Development section and are the entries certifications? I think adding these types of activities to a resume is a very good idea, but you may want to describe these in a different way.
The final comment I want to make is about your choice of positions to apply to. I realize that the two you sent are a small sample of what interests you, so you can take this with a grain of salt if it’s not appropriate. The Idealist position appears to be below what your experiences and education qualify you for. That may be another reason why you haven’t received an interview. Employers can tell when someone is applying to something that really doesn’t fit. They can tell by a lack of effort and/or a lack of connection. The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is looking for someone with a minimum of 3 years of experience in writing and media (you have around 8 or more) and they presumably want someone who has a passion and/or connection to the performing arts. I’m not saying you absolutely have to have a direct connection to everything, just that employers can tell when you may be grasping at straws. In this case, you be applying to a position that is well below your abilities and does not appear related to your interests.
This is why it is critically important to me that when you apply for something that you really feel it is of value to you. It takes a lot of time and effort to write and submit a great application, and you need to want the job to do that.
The bottom line for you is that you have a lot of great experience. The key to finding a good position for you is showing employers you have what they want and that you want it too by translating your experiences into their language.
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