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Rock Your Resume: Daniel Crystal
February 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm #151882
- Looking to transition from program analyst to contracting specialist
- Currently employed with CBP, looking to change jobs within the federal government
- Have already applied for jobs
- None yet, just started applying
February 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm #151891
Thanks for submitting your resume and following the new process. You’re in the queue for February!
February 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm #151888
First of all Daniel, your resume looks good. I like how your layout is simple, clean, and to the point. The two things you can do to make your resume a LOT better is to hyper-focus on the skills and functions this position says it needs and make it very easy to find this information.
First and foremost, we need to reexamine if you are giving the employer what they want in an obvious way.
Keep in mind that an employer will only give your resume 6-9 seconds for an initial review. You need to make an impact IMMEDIATELY. And if a computer is scanning your resume for key words, then you need to know what those are.
The position description is the employers way of saying “we have a problem.” You need to tell them that you are the solution to that problem and you MUST do it in their language. In other words, you need to translate your resume into their language using their exact words to describe what you have done and, most importantly, what you have accomplished. This will not be hard for you, because you already have a ton of great information in your resume. All you need to do is modify your resume to fit what the employer wants.
I glanced at the position and your resume and could not immediately see the skills and abilities the positions asks for. The way you describe all your experiences and accomplishments is fine, but it doesn’t directly relate to the position at hand. I want to emphasize how crucially important it is to write the descriptions of your experience to match exactly what the employer wants and to do it in such a way as to be brutally obvious.
For example, I underlined a few key words and phrases in the position to show what needs to appear in your resume. “Acquisition” is a word that comes up a few times in the job description and I see it in your resume several times. However, I also see “determine,” “evaluate,” “negotiate,” and “coordinate” in the job description too, but they do not appear in your resume as much. Also, even though I didn’t look too closely at the job announcement, I didn’t see “author,” worked,” “draft,” or “research” on the job announcement, but they appear on your resume clearly.
Therefore, I suggest that you take some time to analyze the content of the job announcement, including the questionnaire to identify which skills and functions are most important to this position.
Then you should lay out your resume to make things VERY easy to find.
As Camille showed in the webinar we did a few weeks ago, you have key words listed at the top of your resume. That’s good. I think it would be good to add a summary under that which includes more details about what you bring to the table and gives you the chance to use the keys words again.
Summary section of your resume is your opportunity to create a lens through which employers will read your resume. Give them something direct and to the point that will focus their attention on what it is they are about to read. Here is a good example:
“Program analyst with three years of project experience working on teams implementing community development programs, grant writing, and data analysis. Business and organizational development expert with first-hand experience of the Congressional appropriations process and knowledge of effective strategic management practices.”
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.
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 “responsible for.” 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 CAR method:
C = Context
A = Action
R = Result
If you are having a hard time finding the ―end‖ of your story, try using a Skills Matrix:
Context (the task)
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
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. 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, federal resumes, especially for someone like you with several years of experience, are often 4-5 pages long.
March 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm #151886
We hope you found this service helpful! If so, we’d really appreciate it if you could update your resume based on Paul’s feedback and post to this discussion. It would be a great resource for others trying to update their own resumes to have a couple great samples to use. If you re-post by March 9, you’ll also be in the running for our monthly spotlight for the best resume rocked this month! In addition to getting some great exposure, the winner will also get a $10 Starbucks gift card, to help power through the job application process!
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