Let’s meet this week’s candidate, Amy Reinhart. Amy is looking for a procurement position with a biotech company in the Boston Area. She likes music, small fuzzy animals, the beach, and sunsets.
On Fridays, I review resume submissions from readers brave enough to submit their resume (or video resume) for public review and comment by top career coaches, recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. Some of these reviews may be positive, some may not – if you submit, be prepared to be brave enough for positive and negative comments.
Hey, better to have us tear it apart than the hiring managers of your target companies – right?
Back to Amy – Amy has been looking for a new position for about 7 months, has sent out 40 resumes, had 8 interviews, been a finalist 3 times. She didn’t get any of these positions for they typical variety of reasons. Amy has used Linkedin, posted her resume on her Linkedin profile, and earned a procurement certification.
Amy describes that her biggest roadblocks have been that some of her contacts haven’t followed through with what they’ve promised.
All in all, not bad … just not good enough. Amy’s efforts would have probably landed her job offers in a good job market, say in 1999 or 2005. But it’s just not enough for the worst job market in our lifetime. I’ll give Amy some suggestions of how to improve her resume and search strategy to find more opportunities, emerge as a finalist more often, and land one of those jobs.
- Resume in MS Word 97-2003 compatibility mode – Preferred format of over 85% of hiring managers, recruiters, and HR reps based on recent poll.
- Narrow header – The resume header uses just 3 lines, making effective use of resume real estate (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-manage-your-resume-real.html). The margin could even be smaller and her name could be smaller than 16 point bold font.
- Examples of employer value – She gives 4 strong examples of employer value statements (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/employer-value-statements-make-your.html).
- Clear goal – Amy’s goal of a job in biotech procurement makes sense given her recent purchasing background, and prior background working as a researcher and lab technician in biotech companies. In addition, she’s looking in the right place – Boston is particularly strong in the biotech industry.
- Doesn’t use paragraphs – Amy structures her resume with bullet points, making it easy for readers who will skim her resume to pick up relevant points quickly. Using paragraphs would have made picking up details difficult during the average 15 second skim of your resume.
- Early experience doesn’t list detail – Amy lists the first two positions in her career, but doesn’t take space with details or bullet points. This experience was 20 years ago, so the details of what she did aren’t relevant to her search today. She’ll want employers to focus on her most recent 10 years.
- Certification – Amy used her time off to earn a Certified Professional In Supply Management (CPSM) industry certification, improving her skills while she’s searching for a job. Some states have unemployment programs that pay for certification training or college courses, so it’s worthwhile to check into it.
- Using social media – Amy has made a good start with social media by using Linkedin, Twitter and blogs in her job search. She has her resume online, and has attached it to her Linkedin profile.
- Daily blog posts – While her blog is new, she has been posting daily to gain visibility and build a comfort level with daily publishing. Daily posting is the #1 hardest thing about blogging – I can attest to that personally.
- Informational interviews through Linkedin – Amy has been getting informational interviews through her Linkedin contacts.
- She Tweets about reCareered! – Hey, I didn’t know that when I picked her resume – I just discovered it when reviewing Amy’s Twitter account. Thanks for the support!
While Amy’s resume and job search strategy has these strengths, she’s got to turn it up a notch to succeed in today’s tough job market. She’s also made a good start with social media, but can take it further to gain more impact and notice from employers. Here’s how she can improve her results, and use her efforts to gain more opportunities and more interviews.
- Resume doesn’t state what she wants – I’d like Amy’s resume to clearly tell the reader what she’s looking for. She clearly described to me what she wants (in a separate narrative) – why make the reader guess on the resume? There’s a good chance she addresses this in a cover letter, since about 85% of candidates do this. But as I detail in http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/is-your-cover-letter-obsolete-tradition.html , 96% of hiring managers are making decisions based on your resume. If it’s not on your resume, it doesn’t exist.
- Summary makes poor use of resume real estate – Instead of a summary, I recommend that Amy use a personal branding statement that’s simple and takes no more than a single line. Amy’s summary takes up the top 1/3 of her resume, her most valuable real estate. Worse yet, she confuses the reader by listing almost 20 subject matter expertises, looking like a jack of all trades and master of none. Amy would be better served by using a crystal clear, extremely concise personal branding statement to describe what position she wants, and focus on her ability to solve a single business problem that’s relevant to the target company (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-personal-branding-statement-can.html) . All of those additional skills can be used later in the resume (see my description of skills inventory below).
- Only sent 40 resumes – If she wants a job anytime soon, Amy will need to increase her effort numbers. Those numbers night wave
worked in good job markets, but it’s not a good job market today. I recommend to my clients that it takes on average three times the number of opportunities needed for a normal job market – which means three times the number of resumes sent. Expect that you’ll get close a number of times and that companies will flake for a smorgasbord of reasons – so don’t count on any specific opportunities. Rather, increase effort numbers so you can afford to have most fall through – you have three times the number of opportunities in your pipeline, so odds are that one will come through. Amy is currently only sending an average of about 1.5 resumes per week, including those she sends for informational interviews – she needs to get more out.
- Too much real estate as a job description – Amy gives glimpses of what she did that was unique in her position – I suspect that there is much more under the surface. Don’t hold back – your future employer cares more about how you went the extra mile than a repetition of your job description.
- Need more Employer Value Statements – Amy gives too much description of responsibilities. She needs more employer value statements, especially as she’s trying to transfer skills to industry from the non-profit world. By satisfying the the 3 things her next employer will look for in her resume, she’ll likely get more interviews (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/3-things-your-next-employer-will-search.html).
- Biotech & clinical lab experience on page 2 – She’s got to find a way to get mentions on page 1. If Amy doesn’t capture a reader’s attention on the first page, they won’t get to the second page in the average 15 seconds a reader spends deciding whether to interview or pass (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/03/15-seconds.html).
- No employer value statements for her biotech & clinical work – It looks much more impressive, especially for a cost saving role like procurement, to describe how much money she made or saved her prior employers. In addition, employer value statements in her prior biotech work helps bridge the gap between industry and non profit. Her next employer will care less about her responsibilities 10+ years ago, but will care about accomplishments that are relevant to current problems.
- Listing detail for job 15 years ago – The detail of what she did that far back isn’t relevant, unless there’s a direct relation to target company current issues. If she saved money streamlining the process for manufacturing purple widgets, and she’s interviewing with a purple widget company … it’s relevant.
- Skills inventory – Amy lists some great skills in the summary section (see above), but branding as a jack of all trades isn’t helping her. Instead, I recommend adding a skills inventory section to the end of his resume. I use a 3 column format of 30-50+ three word “sound bytes” in these categories: Tech skills, functional skills, industry skills, management/leadership skills, and soft skills. Make sure to keep each at three words or less – brevity pays here. I describe how to build a skills inventory more fully in http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/resume-ideas-add-skills-inventory-to.html.
- Needs Job search plan and resume tracking – Without a plan, Amy doesn’t have a clear idea how much activity she’ll need to meet her goals withing a given timeframe – she doesn’t know how many calls, how many resume sends, how many meetings she’ll need to land a job within x number of weeks. By not tracking her resume sends, she can’t get a sense of what’s working, and what’s not working – she also can’t track follow up, so she can continue to remind those who haven’t kept promises to help. She’s only kept a log on word for unemployment claims, which doesn’t help her for planning. Amy’s not planning to fail … I give some detailed ideas for planning your job search at http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/are-you-planning-to-fail-in-your-job.html.
- Convert more information interviews into job opportunities – Many candidates under utilize informational interviews by directly asking if the company is hiring, if the contact knows of anyone hiring, or other ambush interview tactics – this is a random approach that fails more often than it succeeds. Candidates can not only find out about opportunities but learn how to succeed in target company interviews by using an informational interview for higher-gain discussions. See http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/why-candidates-should-avoid-ambush.html to learn how to leverage informational interviews.
- Only 183 Linkedin connections – In order to gain critical mass, get the word out, gain more inside information on target companies, and schedule more informational interviews, Amy needs more contacts. For ideas about how to expand your Linkedin network in a concentrated way, see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/now-that-im-linked-who-do-i-link-to.html.
- Better Linkedin profile organization – Amy’s Amazon reading list is near the top of her profile – lean how Linkedin allows you to move profile sections at http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-can-linkedins-new-features-help-job.html.
- Need stornger recommendations – She needs recommendations that discuss how much money she’s saved, not from students complimenting her non-fiction writing. She has some good character references, but none that tell what a good job she did at providing employer value. Perhaps she could lead her references to what part of her story she’d like each to tell (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/03/linkedin-strategies-recommendations.html).
- Blog content doesn’t establish subject matter expertise – Amy just started blogging, and now’s the easiest time to change the voice of her blog, to build subject matter expertise. Currently she’s posting about employment and world economics. Why not post articles about procurement? She posted only 2 articles about telcom spend – procurement should be the only thing she’s posting about to build a concentrated subject matter expertise. She can post articles she finds on procurement, mixed with her own work to start. Do employers care that she’s posting unemployment statistics (she’s not interviewing for a HR or economics job), or would a potential employer be more impressed that she demonstrates procurement expertise … and maybe find her because of her procurement postings?
- Miscellaneous blog improvements – The blog title “Musings” doesn’t lead readers interested in procurement to the blog – Changing the title to have something to do with procurement will help her publishing efforts be seen by the audience she’s trying to attract – “Biotech Procurement Musings” would better attract her audience. Amy can improve the usefulness of her blog by giving contact information, email address, listing a short bio in her author profile including links to her Linkedin profile. Finally, if Amy is attracting potential hiring managers to her blog, she could post her resume.
- Twitter improvements – Twitter could help Amy, especially to gain more targeted log readers and Linkedin procurement contacts = but she’s barely using it. I’d like to see Amy increase followers (currently only 10), increase number and relevancy of
tweets (currently only 37 tweets, many about the weather), post links to her blog articles, include links to her Linkedin profile in her Twitter bio section, follow recruiters, twitter job posters, and subscribe to twitter lists of recruiters and job posters. See http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/job-seekers-20-ways-to-brand-yourself.html.
Amy’s made a good start in using social media, and her resume and profiles are a good example of how to leverage those first steps to form a true brand that speaks to employers. Amy’s resume has some strengths, and some areas for improvement. Personally, I think she’s got a pretty good background to help a biotech company, but she could do a better job in making that clear to potential employers though her resume and social media.
Thanks Amy for your willingness to share your background and resume, and be a target for constructive criticism. I hope this has helped you, and that you’ve seen some ways you can ramp up your job search. Best of luck!
Hopefully this helps to educate other job seekers, while the brave candidate gets useful feedback, criticism and advice on their resume. In addition, the chosen candidate’s background gets wide exposure where reCareered is republished.
This feature was included at the request of so many candidates who wanted to see my job search work in action, and to visualize how my recommendations could work on their own resume. I’ve opened it up to other career coaches to give their comments and show off their mad coaching skills.
Readers – It’s your turn. Do you have any suggestions for Amy, her resume, or her social media strategy? Please comment and share your thoughts.
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