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Rock my Resume – Rosie R.
September 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm #142569
Firstly, THANK YOU! Now on to the questions:
WHY: I’d like help rebranding my professional self. My previous career was in marketing, but my passion is international exchanges & public diplomacy, so I’d like folks to view me as an “international exchange specialist.”
CURRENT SITUATION: PT Cultural Programs Specialist (through STEP) at State Department & FT grad student in Intl Education
WHERE I AM IN PROCESS: Graduating in Dec & hoping to use my STEP status to transition to a FTE at State
MAIN ISSUE: Haven’t been passing CERT (fortunately, I’ll have non-competitive status for 120 days post-graduation, so along with networking, my resume will be one of my best assets)
SAMPLE INTERESTED JOB:
THANKS AGAIN! Rosie
November 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm #142583
Hey Rosemarie – I know it’s been a bit of a wait (since this is free, we’ve had a huge backlog), but we’re getting close to being able to review your resume. In fact, if you can share a new open job announcement (link above is broken due to USAJOBS changes), I could even bump you up to an immediate review! Thanks – Andy (GovLoop Community Manager)
November 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm #142581
I’m so excited that you and your colleagues will be able to look at my resume and offer some suggestions!! Thank you so much for this invaluable service.
My ideal job isn’t available at present, but there is something close. Are you able to see the below page? It’s for internal State Dept employees only:
If not, please let me know and I’ll find something else. I believe I have some old postings saved on my computer.
December 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm #142579
You’re in the queue for December…coming soon!
December 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm #142577
December 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm #142574
Thanks for participating in the Rock Your Resume program. I apologize for taking so long to respond to you post. I hope you are having a terrific holiday season.
You have a lot of great experience and your current resume does a decent job of showing the basics of what you bring to the table. However, I think there are a few things we can do to make it really effective and to highlight those things that federal employers will find most attractive.
BTW, everything I discuss below, and more, is discussed in greater detail in my new book the 2nd edition of the Student’s Federal Career Guide located at http://www.amazon.com/Students-Federal-Career-Guide-2nd/dp/0982419058/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324572910&sr=8-2
The kindle version should be available soon too. Although it focuses on students, there are a ton of great tips and suggestions for everyone in it. Check it out!
As you can see, I made a few suggested changes to your resume in the attached document. I reformatted a couple things as an example of how they could be done. You can fix the rest of your resume.
Before I explain a few other things I think are very important, I have one a few details to go through.
- Move your education to after you professional experience. Most private and public organizations are more interested in your experiences.
- Be consistent with everything. For example, in some places you list just the years for your experiences while in other places you list the season (e.g., summer)—and include MONTHS!
- Your name doesn’t need to be so large. Most employers can read it at 11 pt as well as they can at 20pt, but at 11pt, it doesn’t take up as much space.
- Margins for your resume should not be smaller than 7/10 of an inch or bigger than 1 inch. (I set your margins in the attached document to 1 inch on all sides).
Now to the more important stuff:
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 summary section you have now is good assuming that you adjust it to fit the position to which you are applying. The Summary section of your resume is your opportunity to create a lens through which employers will read your resume. Try to avoid trite statements like “Known for attention to detail, positive attitude, and commitment to excellence.” These thoughts should be assumptions and they don’t really tell an employer what they want to know.
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.
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.
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
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, play, prepare, 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, all of 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.
The hardest part now is actually writing your resume. I suggest that you not worry about the length of your resume at this point, but instead that you focus on the content. Don’t worry about length now; that will only hinder your ability to write out everything you can on the page. When you do that, you might be amazed at how much more important information appears on your resume. When you worry too much about length, you won’t allow yourself to get everyone out of your head onto the page. Just get everything out and then go back to clean it up.
In fact, that is good advice for writing in general. Writing, thinking, and researching should happen at the same time. Get everything your think about onto the page and then go back—do not edit as you write.
December 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm #142572
I am so excited to take a deep hard look at my resume and put all of your recommendations into place.
Thank you so much for your time and generous help. It looks like I know what I’ll be doing on holiday break now!
I look forward to sharing the revised product.
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