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Rock Your Resume: Kathy Sandru
August 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm #137018
My name is Kathy Sandru, and I would like to have my resume critiqued to see what I need to include or delete in order to obtain a position within the Federal Government.
I have been unemployed now for over 2 1/2 years; however, during that time, I did manage to attend college. Unfortunately due to our household income (education financial aid is based upon our household income), I don’t qualify for Pell Grants or anything else with the exception of Student Loans. I cannot afford to place myself deeper in debt due to my long-term unemployment status. I had to quit school (for now), so that is why I do not have a degree. I did manage to find work as an Administrative/Research Assistant part-time (10 hours per week) at a much lower salary ($6 per hour). I am glad to be working at this assignment because it helps to keep my skills up to date.
Attached is my resume. I would like to transition into the public sector within an agency dealing with the public. My strongest skills are my office and Customer Service skills and experience. I have applied to many Govt. openings through USAJobs.gov., however, the best responses I could get (when I do receive a response) is that I qualify; however, my resume will not be forwarded to the hiring manager due to someone else scoring higher.
Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
August 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm #137038
Be sure to customize your resume for each job application. You MUST have the specialized expereince they are seeking in the Qualifications section of the vacancy announcement. In other words you must have actually done those things. Be sure to include highlights of your experience in the beginning of your resume, and you can post that information to the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section of the federal resume builder. Do not upload a resume to the USAJOBS site unless asked to do so, they do not work in the federal HR review system, so no one will look at them. Use the federal resume builder instead, If your skills and accomplishments do not fit into the job-related section, add a heading to the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section and place them there.
Another idea is to take classes from a 2-year/community college, which are much less expensive than a four year college, and transfer them. Be sure to speak with an Academic Advisor from your 4-year insituttion to make sure the classes are transferrable and contain the same or similar content.
Best wishes for success!
Taylor Your Career
August 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm #137036
Thank you for your response. I would very much love to complete my degree (AA, AS, whatever) but the only thing holding me back is the money. When I filed the FAFSA Form in order to seek financial aid, the only aid I qualified for (based upon household income) is the Student Loan. I already have an existing loan outstanding & don’t want to pile on further debt. This is the Catch-22 that the Middle Class is suffering in this economy. Our incomes are above the Poverty Level; therefore, we don’t qualify for a lot of government assistance or even State Aid. I went to the 2-year college in my area, and submitted a request to reconsider my financial aid application due to my long-term unemployment status & was denied. So the only way I can go back to college right now is to get deeper into debt, or (like one State worker told me) “separate from your husband; if you did, you would qualify for loads of state assistance”. Sorry, I am not separating from my spouse and hurting our children just so I can get on the public dole. I would rather live in a tent with my husband & kids down by the river than do that.
August 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm #137034
If you send us a specific job announcement, we can have one of our Professional Rock Your Resume Reviewers look at your resume and give you specific feedback. Once you do this, we’d love to help you out!
Kevin Dubs, RYR Community Leader
August 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm #137032
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it! I am tired of the private sector and want to work in the Public sector where I can assist people much more & really make a difference. I would like to apply to the following:
Job Title: IMMIGRATION SERVICES ASSISTANT (OA)
Department: Department Of Homeland Security
Agency: Citizenship and Immigration Services
Job Announcement Number: CIS-PJN-510646-NER
The locations I would like to apply to are in Hartford, CT and Newark, NJ (1st preference: Newark). I have already submitted my resume to this thread, but if you need it again, I will be happy to resend. Thank you so much!
August 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm #137030
Did someone have the opportunity to review my resume? Just wondering. Thank you
September 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm #137028
Kathy, I’m sorry to hear you have been having such a difficult time finding employment. It’s great that you made the effort to get an education—every little bit helps.
The good news is that you are most definitely qualified for many positions within the federal government. The keys to landing a federal position is to find the right positions and put together quality applications.
Given your background and your education, it would seem that positions at the GS-5 or GS-7 level probably would be right up your alley. Make sure you are keeping an eye on the promotion potential for those positions too. Ideally you don’t want to get a job that will only allow you to move up to a GS-7 noncompetitively. Also, make sure you are applying to positions in agencies that are doing things that you really believe in. Of course, if you live outside of Washington, DC, your choices of federal agencies may be limited, but there are still many, many opportunities outside the capital beltway.
As for your resume, a couple quick points that I think may help:
First, your name doesn’t need to be larger than the rest of the text on your resume—it can be read at 11 pt or 24 pt.
Second, do not use tables or templates in Microsoft Word to format your resume. If you send a Word version of your resume, employers can see the lines of the table and sometimes converting it to PDF can mess things up.
Third, I’m not a big fan of listing all the skills you did at the beginning. Instead, you should be building those skills into the bullet points you have later in your resume. Employers are not as concerned about the skills you have as much as they are about how you used or are using those skills to bring value to an organization. Anyone can schedule appointments, but no one else can do it as successfully as you did in the environment and with the people you did it with.
That is a major key in writing successful resumes: showing how your skills and work made a positive impact on the organization and/or how your work was used to support the organization.
For your federal resume, I agree that it would be a very good idea for you to use the USAJobs resume builder. 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.
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 of 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.
October 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm #137026
Here is my revamped resume:
Country of Citizenship: U.S.A.
Veteran’s Preference: N/A
Federal Civilian Status: N/A
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT EXPERIENCE:
ODesk.com / LJW Holdings
Virtual Administrative & Research Assistant (Temporary)
May, 2011 to August, 2011
Provided administrative and customer support services to the Owner of a property management firm to include review and screening of incoming correspondence, (including e-mail communication) from renters, subcontractors and office staff.
Organized and reconciled existing database of approximately 25 business internet e-mail accounts per Client’s written and verbal instructions by using detailed organizing and planning skills. Delivered prompt and detailed internet research services for Client on a variety of topics per Client’s request.
Created and posted job announcements on Craigslist. Compiled and reviewed candidates’ resumes based upon Owner’s instructions. Responded to inquiries from job applicants seeking additional information on available positions. Coordinated candidate interviews with on-site Property Manager. Performed referenced checks when applicable.
Corporate Staffing Solutions West Hartford, CT
Administrative Assistant (Temporary)
March, 1998 to April, 1999
Assigned to Pratt & Whitney as Administrative Assistant to Vice resident/General Manager of V-2500 Engine Overhaul Center. Successfully met all U.S. Citizenship and Government Security Clearance checks as required for the assignment.
Performed general office duties such as typing correspondence, operating office machines (copiers, fax), and sorting mail. Screened all telephone calls, e-mails, incoming and outgoing correspondence Maintained appointment calendar. In order to maintain efficiency within the office, developed and installed office procedures and practices daily by utilizing time management skills.
Assisted in the preparation of complex business proposals for prospective clients. Collected and composed data to create charts, graphs,and slides for use in both operation and client meetings. Arranged in-house and external conferences, meetings and travel reservations for office personnel.
Developed human resource experience and skills by processing, verification, and maintenance of documentation relating to personnel activities such as staffing, recruitment, and training. Utilized team building, time and project management skills in collaboration with the Technology Department to successfully create and launch the Engine Center’s Intranet webpage.
CLAIMS AND BENEFIT PROCESSING EXPERIENCE:
Prudential Financial Iselin, NJ
Senior Claims Examiner
July, 2006 to March, 2009
Established assigned Structured Settlement new sales onto the computer system. Reviewed documents such as data and quotation sheets, to ensure accuracy prior to data entry input. Verified benefit calculations and payment amounts on quotation sheet (as submitted by Marketing Unit) to detect any errors in arithmetic. Met and/or exceeded required metrics of three transactions per unit, averaging 120 new transactions per week, with an accuracy of 95% or better.
Managed an assigned caseload of over 150 existing Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Malpractice, Product Liability and other types of settled cases by reviewing and processing any changes in beneficiary data per court orders and other settlement documents. Partnered with the Marketing Unit to contact agents when discrepancies and/or missing documentation occurred in order to produce policy. Analyzed settlement documents upon receipt to ensure that all necessary requirements have been met prior to forwarding case file to Contracts Unit for policy issuance.
Issued benefit payments to claimants on computer system, once all supporting documentation was complete and within case file. Commission payments were also issued to settlement brokers and agents within the required 10-business day timing period. Cases in which agent’s licensing was found to be invalid or expired were referred to the Agency Unit.
In collaboration with team leaders and project managers, investigated and reduced cases with outstanding suspense items within Unit’s 7 business day requirement by reconciliation of all benefit and premium amounts using computer systems. This was necessary due to open items having an impact on reserve amounts held for the Structured Settlements business line (i.e., when processing quote restructures, additional premium and/or refunds)
Participated in team building initiatives within the workplace with various groups of employees and co-workers by volunteering in Diversity Month. Assisted in crafting and implementing Client Services’ Mission Statement. Successfully helped to achieve Client Services’ objectives within Key Performance Indicators for the Best In Class Team Incentive Bonus. Pursued continuing education by job shadowing other departments, including Contract Unit, Annuity Pricing and Marketing.
MetLife (Formerly Travelers’ Life & Annuities)
Customer Service Manager
January, 2004 to December, 2005
Determined and explained eligibility of retirement benefits for newly-retired employees based upon Employer’s pension Plan document. Modeled quotation of benefit amounts based upon age and years of service. Created and mailed claims information packets to retirees upon completion. Entered new pension and beneficiary death claims on computer system upon receipt of retirees’ benefit selections and beneficiary documentation.
Researched and resolved customers’ service issues, including address changes, stop payments, tax reporting and late benefit payments based upon telephone calls into Center. Kept records of customer interactions and transactions, recording details of inquiries, complaints, and comments, as well as actions taken on an average of 200 calls per month. Referred unresolved customer grievances to designated departments for further investigation.
Assisted department manager and team members with closing and relocation of department to Alpharetta, Georgia based upon department’s sale to MetLife by packaging, cataloging and preparation of case files and plan documents for imaging and scanning.
CIGNA Healthcare Bloomfield, CT
Implementation Specialist/Team Leader April, 1999 to April, 2000
Created and maintained databases of employers’ medical and dental benefit enrollment plans for the Mid-Atlantic region as part of a project team to coordinate database development and determine project scope and limitations using computer systems. Coded database descriptions and specified identifiers of database onto database management system.
In collaboration with project managers and customer service managers, roduced medical and dental Plan contracts, enrollment forms, benefit plan binders, and other administrative material for mailing to plan participants and human resources managers.
Entered plan participants’ enrollment forms onto computer system to reflect both newly enrolled and changes to benefit statuses. When applicable, assisted with other departments to enter enrollment forms onto computer system during high volume enrollment periods.
FINANCIAL INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE:
MetLife Iselin, NJ
January, 2006 to April, 2006
Posted deposits to customers’ brokerage accounts via computer system using imaged and physical checks. Verified amounts and examined checks for proper endorsements.
Entered transactions into computer and issued computer-generated receipts for preparation of daily balancing. Upon successful balancing of reporting system, stamped and bundled items for daily courier deposit into banking institution.
Researched and reconciled an average of 5 to 10 exception items for banking institution on a daily basis.
Charles Schwab Hartford, CT
Client Services Associate
April, 2000 to January, 2004
Greeted customers upon entrance into Downtown, Hartford Sales Center floor and inquired on type of service desired. Established new brokerage, retirement, and stock liquidation accounts for new and existing clients as requested. Processed stock and check deposits into client accounts,as well as initiated electronic transfers of accounts from other brokerage institutions. Balanced check and security deposits for overnight express mailing to depository operation centers in Florida and San Francisco as well as forwarding exception transfer and new account paperwork to processing areas.
Partnered with Investment Specialists, Financial Planner, Branch Manager and Senior Client Services Manager by utilizing persuasion skills resulting in client retention and business referrals of $2MM+ per quarter. Also participated in event planning for client/prospective client investment educational seminars and sales events, including sponsored golf tournaments for high-end clients and prospects.
Displayed and installed branch marketing displays and materials as specified by company marketing department. Ensured that all marketing displays, forms, and files were in compliance with company and industry policies.
Thomas Edison State College
BSBA Public Administration (In Progress)
Raritan Valley Community College
Microsoft Windows 2007, XP, Microsoft Office 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Project, MS Access). Microsoft Works 2003 MS Outlook, and Lotus Notes. Working knowledge of Open-Source applications (LINUX/Red-Hat Desktop, Fedora) VM Ware Converter; Internet-based applications, i.e.: Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox and Microsoft Explorer. Working knowledge of HTML, and web-page design, PeopleSoft, Reuters Plus. Experienced in system set-up & maintenance. Familiarity with legal research applications, including WestLaw, LoisLaw and LexisNexis. Social Networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In
confidential customer service detail-oriented administrative support reviewing contents of correspondence and reports for completeness, clarity and accuracy; maintaining files regulating workflow in accordance with established timeframes processing invoices and travel reimbursement assisting with special projects report distribution providing excellent customer service to internal and external customers performing other duties as assigned development of statistical reports databases experience in an office environment performed a variety of clerical and support services keyboarding document information processing, handling payments for fees recording monies received transcribing information reconciling balances or accounts scheduling meetings or appointments
October 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm #137024
I placed “keywords and phrases” at the bottom of my resume in very small print, using white font due to the fact that computers are doing the scanning of resumes, and are excluding those whose keywords do not show up in the job requirements listed within the application.
October 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm #137022
Kathy, I highly suggest that you NOT do that. Although I understand the reason why, it is very disingenuous and could be seen as dishonest. Please do not do that.
October 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm #137020
ok, will not include them in my resume. This suggestion was based upon a jobs seminar where the facilitator said that this was a way of getting a resume noticed. Being unemployed for almost 3 years you can see why I would’ve listened to this tactic. But I do want to be as honest in the search as possible, so I will take your suggestion instead. It’s just so frustrating that I am getting nothing but rejection letters, esp. since I am not even considered a candidate to bring in for an interview. I have only had 2 interviews – one in person & the other on the phone.
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