Part I – Introduction, Your Overall Résumé
In today’s world there is little doubt that you are focused on your career security when it comes to working in your organization. Your passion, interest, and deep commitment beyond an involvement is usually linked directly with a few personal benefits. Unless you go into business, or engage in starting your company, it is natural for you to be motivated by such benefits.
Some organizations proactively realize this shift in the value system and have systems in place to minimize the general risks of high turnover or specifically, voluntary exits of “High Potential/Value-added employees” such as you. For example, about 15 years ago the candidate screening stage would have never involved discussions relating to your base salary (Money matters in the hiring process) of the approved position. However, with shrinking budgets for an approved job requisition there is little wiggle room left in your final stage negotiation. We are seeing more cases of the unofficial “off-the-record” verbal concurrences between your “would be hiring manager (recruiters)” and you in this area. In this tough economy employers have choices on your candidacy during your pre-screening process more evident lately.
So how do you as a career seeking professional (CSP) navigate your career with such variable changes in your working environment? These are some “million currency” questions I constantly receive from CSPs such as yourself opting for career counseling services during critical points in your career.
This article is the first of a series for several others to follow, and I will focus on your résumé design emphasizing critical aspects toward your career transitioning success. By separating the various elements of your résumé in this discussion I will help you comprehend the résumé building process better, as several other variables for the CSP could cause confounding (confusion) during this specific discussion.
Your Overall Résumé:
Over you entire working history this résumé document has followed you like a birth star (or horoscope in some cultures) with some gaps hidden in the details, however, not erasable. Being a vital document it needs to be treated just like a payroll or bank statement document, something very personal to you. Yes, there are websites that have successfully marketed a seemingly no-cost service to the CSP requiring you to provide your personal information and denote key information requirements by using asterisks against them indicating a “must-fill-in” section to get you registered. Clauses they use are just short of a legal need acting as filters before you successfully register on their websites. Have you ever asked yourself at this stage of your career, whether this route to my career transitioning success is paying off? As an entry level professional you may have a better luck as companies still hire fresh from college, train to place them in a pre-planned routine function. In a global scenario, we have witnessed direct hiring from and to off-shore locations with attractive starting offer packages. Otherwise, with a gained experience, you have a better idea of your likes and dislikes during your next career transition. With clarity of the hiring process you can embed and create a powerful pull system with employers.
Quoting an example (without gloating), over the past 10 years, on an average, I get about one-two résumé requests per week for a job opening simply because my résumé was inundated all over the hiring marketplace a decade ago. Today your résumé, a quick profile access can lead to a higher chance of being noticed (depending on where you are) and contacted by platforms such as www.Linkedin.com, www.naukri.com, or www.monster.com and in extreme cases a resource such as www.facebook.com. In a future article, we will discuss avoiding career penalties at work while leveraging features on Linkedin.
A résumé is a solicited document, needing the right characteristics built-in, with acceptable buzzwords (Buzzwords That Can Damage Your Résumé) devoid of those unpopular (Words “viral” and “epic” consigned to college trash, Overused words are banished) ones and of course simplified every way possible. A helpful resource to achieve simplicity can be obtained from an (shamelessly promoting my own article) article titled “How to design attention grabbing résumés (How to Design Attention Grabbing Résumés?).”Admittedly some points in it are archaic or irrelevant, 4 years since it has been published. Key suggestions going forward are shown as silver bullets below:
- Limit your total résumé length to 2 “8 x 11” pages (2 A4 size pages for those in Asia).
- Not a time to show space optimization (via dirty old “reduced the font size” tricks).
- Accommodate a bullet in one line for undivided/executive attention (do not wrap around).
- Remember that digital comprehension is limited, when managers are speed browsing.
- Use between 3 and 5 bullets per position of responsibility or positions held per employer.
- Excessive bullets diminish your linkage to claims as well as their uniqueness in value.
- Start each bullet with a unique and exclusive action verb instead of passive expressions.
- Action verbs point to some form of leadership which is valuable in this millennium.
- Integrate value proposition delivered in a bullet, instead of inserting your digital distraction.
- If there are no associated ‘so what” or “big deal” value propositions, avoid the bullet.
- Relate to a value proposition in a bullet in at least one of the following ways as shown below:
- Reduced time to execute, resulting in more work getting done in the same 8-hr day.
- Increased process yield, thus increasing delivery speed while reducing rework costs.
- Increased compliance levels helping businesses sustain legal entity (example safety).
- Increased consistency within and/or between functions to enhance items 1-3.
- Any of the above preferably linked to customers’ EBITDA (Do you need a cover letter?) or that of your manager.
Based on practices to date, our entire résumé is a historical compilation, rarely revealing what you could achieve for your next employer as it is usually left to their inference. So by integrating a couple of bullets of what you can achieve for them, you would come across as a very practical candidate distinguishing yourself from the crowd. Additionally, you have reduced their time to a decision to move on with your candidacy for the job. As an example, you could say “in about 90 days I can reduce the billing errors in your invoicing process assuming the stakeholders are seriously enrolled.” Obviously you should claim this with a clear understanding of a plan you have executed on a previously accomplished feat. Last, but never the least, it isn’t professional to sacrifice your integrity, principles, and ethics while listing such bullets of “I can achieve…” on your résumé. Ability to first convince yourself is critical for your credibility.
Regardless of your industry or background, if your bullet didn’t qualify in any of the 5 line items above, I will coach you on how to link your day-to-day work to your employer’s key performing indices (KPIs). Maybe you simply haven’t been challenged in these areas of your customers/managers’ needs. At some point in each of your working assignments, this comes as a wakeup call. In order for you to be able to link it, imagine yourself as a hiring manager needing to justify your budget to your management. For example, say you are hired at xyz.00 currency per year and have a group of 6 people averaging in base salary at xy.00 per year. How do you justify to your management a total investment of (6xy + xyz) per year to seek their approval and backing? Recall, we haven’t even factored overheads as in cost to cot to company (CTC) borne for you and your team members by your managers. This helps you quantify your previous achievements and share the value and linkage with your customers or management on a frequent basis. As a CSP, sensitizing yourself to such thinking is critical for your thought process and then on it is a walk in the park for you to convince employers in the early stages of your hiring process.
This approach helps you pull hiring managers and recruiters to view your candidacy with a different set of magnifying glass than the traditional ones. You now have your DNA established and can leave a footprint of, wherever you work or deliver to a KPI. While reviewing your résumé in the eyes of a hiring manager or recruiter or a peer contact, it becomes obvious on how your DNA footprint sustains itself for a very long time as it becomes a natural and unconscious competency type skill. In reality, you have applied the principle of Lean by reducing the time to be interviewed or even getting an offer for the position you interviewed for. Your CSP process now becomes fun, challenging, and less stressful if you choose to do it while being gainfully employed as opposed to being desperate without one. Reduce the time to decisions.