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Rock My resume: Mike Perry
September 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm #141646
I have been applying for ferderal jobs for quite some time now and i have had no interviews. I get responses such as you r resume has been forwarded to the selecting official and then some time later a statement reflecting that i was not selected. The jobs I have been applying for have been GS 12 positions as a Quality Assurance Specialist. I have worked in this field for over 10 yrs now. I am seeking a position for career enhanchment and where I can better use my abilities. I figure that since I can not get an interview than something has be missing from my resume or my resume does not depict my qualifications as well as the reviewing official might like it to. Please provide advise as to where I can tweake or maybe re-write my resume. Thank you in advance for your contributions to my efforts.
November 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm #141654
Hey Mike – Got your email. Can you share a link to a job announcement? That’s the next step. Once we get that, I’ll place you in the queue….likely for a December review. – Andy (GovLoop Community Manager)
November 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm #141651
Notes for Mike Perry
Where we may be having problems is the presentation of your information. It is very hard to find important information on your resume, and in fact, I believe it actually pushes the reader away because it is full of text and it is written in a conversation style. For example, do not use “I” on your resume.
The structure of your resume makes it hard to navigate as well. 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 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.
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.
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.
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
I really do think if you take the information you have here and present it appropriately, you will generate more interest in your experiences.
Attached to this note is a document I wrote for my students and alumni. It will go farther on how to write an effective resume than these notes, and it will show you what an effective resume should look like.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
December 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm #141649
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