Banking

Results of our resume make-over

Jennifer Hay chose one resume from a TechRepublic member to make over. Here are the results!

Several weeks ago I asked TechRepublic members to send in their resumes for the chance to win a free resume make-over from a professional resume service. I received over a hundred resumes. I am holding on to them all in case we do this exercise again.

I forwarded all the resumes to Jennifer Hay at Information Technology Resume Service , and she chose one. We have changed all the identifying information on the resume for the benefit of the person who submitted it. We will display specific areas that Jennifer addressed and show her analysis and explanations for what was changed. We also have the Before and After versions of the resume available for download.

The first part Jennifer addressed was the resume's Career Summary section, shown in Figure A:

Figure A

Here is what she said:

There were two primary issues with John's resume. His summary was simply a list of his core competencies with absolutely no connection with his personality. His professional experience section listed his main responsibilities and the key tasks that he performed. It was certainly concise and to the point, but it left the reader absolutely no context for understanding his achievements.

It is no longer enough in a competitive job market for a resume to simply list your past responsibilities; it needs to tell the whole story of who you are and what you bring to prospective employers. The whole story does include past responsibilities, but more importantly it describes your personal values, your achievements, your working style, and more.

Summary Hiring managers want to hire strong skill sets, but they also want an individual who will fit within their company's environment. John's summary failed on these points. Through extensive discussions via email and on the phone, I discovered the following:

1)   He enjoys working with upper management and board level personnel. He has a lot of successes in this area, so it was natural that this would become part of his summary statement.

**Effective communicator who uses clear and concise business language to engage senior management.

2)   He has a small shop with limited resources, so he has become an expert in combining internal and external resources to get the most value. This is a great fit in today's economic environment since businesses want to "do more with less."

**Blends in-house talent with outsourced expertise to balance resources, fill skill gaps, and increase organizational competencies.

3)   John sent several job descriptions that interested him. It's important when writing a resume that you understand the language and circumstances that appeal to your client.

**Provides hands-on leadership and direction to ensure technology aligns with corporate strategy and tactics.

I often see summary statements that are generic and not particularly true to the person's personality and accomplishments. This is a lost opportunity.

Figure B shows what the summary section looks like after the changes Jennifer recommended:

Figure B

Next, Jennifer addressed the Professional Experience section. Figure C shows the before version:

Figure C

Jennifer explains her reasoning on this section:

John's work history looked like a job description. He had a lot of accomplishments, but each was so short that the reader couldn't understand the context for each statement. Also, some of his accomplishments were related but spread throughout his resume, so you couldn't understand the connection. Here is an example of what I mean.

  • Implemented Microsoft AX for Retail Software System from Point of Sale to Back Office Accounting.

This was a major achievement for John. I don't typically include so much information about a particular project, but, in this case, it was necessary to see the depth of what he was able to do:

ERP System Implementation-worked hands-on to provide end-to-end infrastructure solution from Point of Sale (POS) to accounting backend. Improved control by centralizing pricing at POS terminals (13 stores), enabling inventory management based on sales trends and enhancing inventory distribution processes.
  • Conducted in-depth assessment and performed due diligence to select consultant for implementation of Dynamics AX for Retail, a business management system within MS network environment.
  • Documented business processes from store operations to accounting and incorporated into system design.
  • Met aggressive project plan (6 months) to support business critical launch of a corporate and franchise system, and to integrate point of sale data with back office financials and operations. Delivered project results below budget, ahead of schedule, and directly aligned with corporate goals.
  • Migrated legacy accounting system in just 4 months, delivering 2 months ahead of "go live" date.
  • Led team to test and configure existing POS till hardware to ensure compatibility with new software.
  • Realized CEO goal despite substantial constraints. Implemented a large, complex system with limited resources and minimal vendor support. Served as beta site for Microsoft's new software acquisition.

I use a storytelling process to gather information about my client's accomplishments. It's more time consuming than many other resume writers' techniques, but I know how well it works. Interviewing and networking is about telling stories. My clients select those projects that do a great job of describing what they do best. They write out all the stories without filtering and then we get on the phone to talk through everything.

Figure D shows the result of the changes to the Professional Experience section:

Figure D

Technical resumes typically include more information because you are trying to blend business value with technical accomplishment. Here is a link that explains my process:

http://www.itresumeservice.com/article-whatsyourstory.html

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

23 comments
Professor8
Professor8

So why is "John Doe, B-School Bozo" who wants to flock with fellow B-school bozos the featured resume on a site frequented by STEM workers -- scientists, mechanical engineers, hardware engineers, software engineers, and, yes, data processors? Where's the resume advice for Great Engineer on how to package the creative, exciting, cutting edge, hard-core science and engineering work he did back in the 1980s to improve the lives of all mankind (back when recruiters did not insist on resumes at all), with the lame CRM and ERP and tech support and web weaving projects he had to take for survival in the late 1990s, and the even worse non-STEM survival jobs and "social networking" he's done since 2000 which are a bad memory he can't get behind him quickly enough? If you can't expect a hiring manager to actually look at your STEM knowledge, skills and experience and understand it, you don't want to work with him. He won't be able to communicate. He won't appreciate your work. He'll praise and reward you lavishly for little bits of off-hand trivial task-work, but turn a blind eye to your greatest, most difficult, most creative, and most valuable achievements which would generate exponential improvement for millions of people if properly leveraged; and worse, he'll promote some dufus over you and dump you the first chance he gets to bring in some foreign guest-workers. After 5 years of experience, hiring managers don't care much about education credentials (unless you're applying or PhD level work at a university). Some recruiters will only accept "chronological" format resumes, others only "functional", still others prefer a hybrid, and still others only the parachute guys' un-resumes. Each religious denomination adheres to its own faith and rejects all others, and you never know ahead of time the denomination of the recruiter you're contacting.

pikeman666
pikeman666

The basic one was simply horrible. I can't believe ANYONE would use something that bad - especially a supposed "executive" candidate. The revision was nice - but the header should have all the information in two lines. And I take exception to the extent of detail in jobs from ten years ago or older. Overall the refined version ought to work. It's better than most I've seen. One point is important though. You need a page one that is "tuned" to the organization you want to join. Page two, with all the old jobs can be generic. One last point. Arial looks nice, but how does it work with current scanners? San Serif fonts have a history of being mis-read by scanners. So a serif font might be preferable. And I wonder about the graphic elements too. You don't want a scanned result looking like scrambled eggs from attempts to translate non-text content.

allan.clapp
allan.clapp

In my case some of the "old" projects (from 1980-1984) show work that I performed which was (at that time) leading edge research in IT. Of course by today's standards such projects are common place and therefore of no consequence. For example: "Create a chat system for use in a mini computer system to communicate between terminals. Features include up to 6 users may communicate at a time in a real time environment. This project integrated four computer languages into a single executable file. What makes this application unique is that it was implemented in the summer of 1981 predating most applications of its kind and utilizing a computer which had ASCII terminals attached to it." Please bear in mind that this was written back when client / server (via the internet for use by the general public) was in its infancy. So this was a project which as it turns out was ahead of it's time. Does such projects such as this serve a purpose in modern resumes?

allan.clapp
allan.clapp

Admittedly it has been quite sometime since I have needed to produce a resume. However "back in the day" it was also emphasized that A Professional Data Sheet was critical in presenting skills in a concise and effective manner. I find that after having read over the article and the posts that I am confused on this point.

BoyDKR
BoyDKR

Thank you for pointing out the typo. Lesson learned, always run the spelling check before sending the resume especially when English is not your first language. I am sorry but "whish" is a verb according to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whish. Every day is a learning experience. Please post a sample for people who are not in management or upper management position.

Magic_8_Ball
Magic_8_Ball

Given the example in the article, if I were to break down every "major achievement", my resume would be 10 pages at least. Does anyone have any suggestions on the length of a resume? One idea has been to create a master resume with all of the informaton and then cut out the achievements that are not related to the posting, but the length to which I shrink my resume is still a valid issue.

trancify
trancify

For a long time I thought that the only purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. As such, it is an advertisement for yourself and needs to be quickly readable by the resume reviewer, which may be a computer or someone in HR who has 20 seconds to decide. I see the "after" result as being more dense and difficult to read. If I was reviewing resumes carefully I would probably be more attracted to the "after" result, but how many hiring managers are doing that? I read resumes regularly for open positions that report to me and I have my own resume to update, so I'd really like to know people's opinions on this.

BoyDKR
BoyDKR

Very good article. Thank you for posting the resume. But I think the sample resume is for an accomplished IT manager or director How can the sample resume translate for a Helpdesk, Desktop Support technician trying to move to a networking position ? How about the accomplished Network Engineer who is trying to move to a management position ? I whish if possible you provide a sample resume for someone mid-level or entry level.

shandleman
shandleman

Thanks for an article on resume writing that really illustrates the good and bad approaches. I think most of Jennifer's changes are overwhelmingly positive. The one I have an issue with is the 1st point of the revised professional summary. It tries to pack too many qualities and descriptors within a single item. When I'm reviewing a resume I tend to skip over sentences like that because they feel like the candidate is trying to BS me with buzzwords rather than give me a description of what they can do (or what they have done). I would like it better if it were a bit more concise like this: "Business-oriented IT leader builds closely knit teams that apply technlogy to improve business processes, increase efficiency, and maximize effectiveness." It still conveys the key goals of his teams and strips away some of the jargon...but not all! One man's opinon. Thanks.

BoyDKR
BoyDKR

In the United States what is the standard font size and font type for resume ?

arendsro
arendsro

Not sure of the current defacto practices but aren't most resumes and cover letters provided electronically? Would an Arial font still be a problem then?

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

If you have a history of firsts, then it might be interesting to include it as a light reference. I was writing a resume for a client and I discovered 6 firsts in her information. I incorporated that into her summary and described the projects in her professional experience section. 1981 is pretty ancient, however. In ???81 I was taking my first COBOL class. I saw the message, "Your computer is about to explode!' appear on my screen. I looked over and the guy next to me was smiling.

JCitizen
JCitizen

being one of the first to start an internet in a state is not particularly exciting for modern employers either. v/

draco vulgaris
draco vulgaris

You can't expect a hiring manager to read ten or fifteen pages! It's your job to sell yourself in two or, at the very most, three typewritten pages. If you can Laser print it, by all means do so! Your recent history and accomplishments are the most important. You should, however, be prepared to discuss any or all of your experience and accomplishments.

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

The final version of Scott???s resume was 2.5 pages, with his tech profile and education on page three. 2-2.5 pages is typical for the resumes I write. Keep in mind that IT resumes must incorporate business and technical achievements along with education (including certificates and professional development) and a list of technologies. Including all of this on two pages can be a challenge. When I have a lot of information, I prefer to add white space for readability on pages one and two with an easy to scan page three. Having a master resume is a good idea so that you can tailor your resume to fit the specific job. Remember that your resume doesn???t need to include everything you???ve done. Think about the projects that you want to talk about in an interview. Jennifer Hay

fremonty
fremonty

Especially in IT, major achievements from 10 years ago do not need much detail. So if you are sending unsolicited resumes, 1 page. You can have a 2 pager for the face to face interview. Anything more than that shows that you don't understand the position your interviewing for enough to pick out relevant accomplishments.

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

Your resume should do more than just get you the interview. It should help to direct the conversation during the interview. I typically don't provide as much information about a single project but in Scott's case, the ERP implementation was a major project for him and it had significant challenges. It???s a great story for an interview. A vendor sold the CEO a system that was far too complex for the business??? needs. Microsoft had just purchased the software company and didn???t have the in-house capability to help with the implementation. It was actually the first time that MS had tried to implement it so Scott was also serving as the beta site. Of course, the CEO didn???t provide any additional funding or resources for the implementation. Scott delivered the system in just 4 months which was 2 months ahead of schedule and it was a very successful product.

draco vulgaris
draco vulgaris

You wrote "I whish"! There is no such word in English! If you spell that way and/or type that way, you will make a poor impression. You cannot afford that sort of error in your resume or your cover letter. The hiring manager has ninety-nine other resumes perfectly spelled and perfectly typed, to read. He can afford to drop your resume in the trash and probably will!

Nightscribe
Nightscribe

I would love to see one as well. It's difficult to move upward in such a tight, competitive job market, and some guidance on a resume that would do that would be very helpful!

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

I can understand why you would prefer a more direct link to technology, but in Scott???s case it wasn???t the best choice. Scott is an expert in small and medium sized businesses and this is the environment in which he thrives. He is very closely connected with the business and developing business capabilities was very important to him. He was more focused on that than the actual technology that he used.

Robiisan
Robiisan

In the late-middle of the 1800's, the London Times did some research into the readability of various fonts and ultimately had the "Times Roman" font created for their newspaper. It was intended to be "the most easily read font in the world." It was supplanted in the late twentieth century by the "Times New Roman" (TNR) font which made minor changes to the font face. IMHO, TNR is still the most readable font out there. It carefully makes a distinction between a lower case "L" and and upper case "I" (l vs. I), which will not, of course, be evident in this post, since the post uses a sans-serif font, possibly Arial. In many cases, I have had difficulty in getting email and other communications because of this very challenge, since my primary email is comprised of my nickname and the Roman numeral representation for 2. It is why I always use TNR for my outgoing corrrespondence in all media. I only experience the challenge when using online response forms that are set up in sans-serif fonts. As for font size, HR people whom I've talked to regularly say a 12 point font size is a minimum (although Arial is a "larger" font and 10 pt. may be more appropriate for it). While Jennifer may disagree with me, since I am long in the tooth and have a lot of history and accomplishments to put on my resume, I have scaled down just slightly to 11.5 points to keep from flowing over onto a third page with maybe four to seven lines on it. The difference is almost indistinguishable to the human eye, provides just a little more "white space" for eye-relief, and is still very readable - without the nearly-always-fatal third page. Great article, Jennifer and Toni. If you don't mind, I'd like to use it, or parts of it, in my teaching at a local career college. I intend to use a finished resume as a project requirement for two or three of the courses I teach, one being Microsoft Word. Please let me know, here in this blog, if you do or don't mind. Thanks!

Robiisan
Robiisan

It could have been worded more gently. Or is that why you have chosen the "Vulgar Dragon" for your moniker? :-)

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

You are welcome to use my information. As an fyi - within the next 2 weeks I'll be publishing a web site for IT career and resume advice. I like a nice practical approach with lots of good tips that a person can implement themselves.