How to build resume for blue collar jobs?
By now, you probably had someone read over your resume and told you it is all wrong and you should format it this way or that. I have talked to many people that were in the business of charging for their expertise in writing resumes. Some will say you should add company logos on the side of companies you have worked for to attract the person’s attention. Others will tell you to design it in such a way as to grab the person’s attention. Let’s face it, by now you may have realized that everyone has a different opinion. No matter if you write a marketing letter or a resume (don’t send both) there is only one thing a hiring manager is looking for; “What can this individual do for me?” When I screen resumes, I may smirk when I see one of those described above, and think, this person has gone to a professional. Look, the resume has to reflect who you are. If your resume doesn’t resonate with you, why would you expect it to draw anyone else’s attention? Be real, discuss your achievement’s and results. Try to quantify your results. Don’t exaggerate. I can smell a phony from the moment I pick up a resume. “I saved the corporation $1 million by doing …” I see that you worked for the company form June to September of the same year. Really! Why are you not still there? How is it that the world hasn’t been banging on your door? And, in only 3-4 months you say?
I see many resumes that start with: “Areas of Expertise”, “Summary of Qualifications”, “Selected Accomplishments”, “Profile Highlights of Qualifications”, “Successful Track Record In…”. Well, you get the idea. The top section of the resume usually highlights some aspect of your career. I agree with any one of these summaries. What you have to ensure is that they are reflected in the body of the resume. You have to make sure that you demonstrate the skills you have entered on top. So, if you highlight 6 skills and I only find three in your resume, I might get the impression you are embellishing.
If you want to highlight Core competencies, you may want to make sure that you know what competencies are. Too many times I have seen “Core Competencies” only to see skills or knowledge entered. They are not skills or knowledge. If you don’t know what something means, then take the time to find out, or don’t use it.
I am by no means suggesting not to use a professional. But you have to take what that person says and fit it into your style. There are words that some will suggest to you such as “dynamic”, “high energy”, a “go-to person” or a “high achiever” that gets things done. They use such words as “results-oriented” (who isn’t); “accomplished” (in what? Doesn’t that go without saying?); “successful” (Well who would hire an unsuccessful person? Again, it should be self evident from the examples you provided). If you are going to highlight yourself beyond the achievements you entered on your resume, use some other words.
There seems to be a wide range of views in writing a note about each company to highlight what they do. Some resume “experts” see things in black and white. One point of view would suggest that you are not presenting a resume as an advertisement to the company you have worked for, rather, it is a marketing tool that represents you. I agree with the philosophy but it is not something that needs to be done all the time. For instance, if you are working for Coca Cola, Stelco, or Proctor and Gamble, everyone knows these organizations so you will not need to add the company profile to your resume. On the other hand, if you are working for Bob’s manufacturing, you may wish to provide a quick sentence that states what they do. It saves the recruiter having to go on the internet to look it up.
Once we get into the main resume, I see many that write their achievements in bullet form. For instance:
- Lead and manage all real estate staging and renovation projects
- Managed a budget exceeding $10 million with 26 direct reports
- Partner with HRBS’s in strategic sourcing initiatives for PL06, PLO5 positions and hard-to-fill position in change enablement, operational risk and transfer pricing.
- Deliver outstanding candidate experience by effective communication and timely follow-ups
- Increased cargo interline sales in 2008 by 10% to $30 million
- Met and exceeded corporate sales targets while maintaining expenses below budget
- Compiled and coordinate gender resources from (company name withheld) data base and externally
- Assessed and responded as necessary to changes in the external environment and the emergence of new evidence arising from programme reviews.
I have numbered these so that I can give you a sense of what is lacking.
Let’s start with #1: This person was looking for a senior manager/executive position. He is trying to demonstrate his leadership ability. If I am a hiring manager, nothing in this sentence demonstrates that he has leadership abilities. Yes, you lead and managed but what? Was it a baseball diamond, a house for sale, what was the budget, etc.? Furthermore, I ask myself so what. A single paragraph better demonstrates the point. I stay away from point form. Sometimes we tend to put too much information into a resume resulting in nothing of significance. (I have seen as many as 10 bullets for one company and it really told me nothing about their ability. Better would be three paragraphs using the STAR format than a bunch of meaningless bullets.
This same sentence can be better said as: A client was trying to sell his home. Upon my recommendation, I took a crew of 5 and using different furniture, staged the area; we gave the kitchen and bathroom an upgrade. We increased the value when sold by $40,000 while spending $15,000 for the upgrades. This gives a much clearer indication of what you have done.
#2: Okay, so you managed a budget of $10 Million and had 26 people reporting to you. Anyone can manage that type of budget if its given to you. What we don’t know is how well this budget was managed. What is more important is what was accomplished with that budget in a sentence or two.
#3: If you can figure out what that means, you are a better person than I. This person is looking for a senior HR position. How can I possibly give this person a position in my organization when he cannot better articulate what he did? What point was he trying to make?
#4: This is the same resume from the person in #3. I would say he does not have strong communication skills based on the previous point and since “candidate experience” is very subjective, I would not be very impressed with point #4 either.
#5: Great you increased sales by 10%. I would like to know how you achieved this. The staffing industry as a whole increased their sales by simply by the government increasing the minimum wage by 20%. I’m sure that is not what was going on there, but you get the idea, unless I know what you have done to achieve that gain, it does not matter much.
#6: It is good that you met and exceeded corporate sales targets while coming in under budget. You have to be careful about how you put statistics out there. You might get a foot in the door which is all you want a resume to do. Once you’re in, you better be prepared to answer, “What could have been done with sales if your budgeted targets had been met”? “Could you have increased your sales”? “If you could have increased sales by far more while marginally exceeding your budget, would that not have been a better outcome”? However, metrics and a little more about what steps were taken to exceed sales targets would have been a lot more helpful in determining if a recruiter is interested in this person
#7: If you are applying for a manager’s position in Human Resources, this tells me virtually nothing. For instance, “Compiled and coordinate gender…” and having it extracted from a data base, can really be done by anyone, including a high school student that is working on a co-op assignment. If you are applying for a management position and your resume shows that you have an undergraduate in Human Resources and a Masters Degree in Human resources, the expectation is that you would provide some additional information or not use that example at all. If you had to conduct research and enlist others to your project, then state that. The STAR method should have been used and it would have shed a light on the writer as to how strong an example this was. Perhaps starting with why it was necessary to do the assignment in the first place. You must remember, the reader is not a mind reader. They cannot possibly see your motive for doing this. For all they might know, you did it because you were told to and thus you are a doer and not the leader. And, just as an aside, this line starts with the past tense, “compiled” and is followed by the present tense, “coordinate”. It points to poor English. Don’t expect your secretary or administrative assistant (if your fortunate enough to have one) bail you out.
#8: Again, this seems to be one of those pompous statements that at the end of it tells you nothing. What was the external environment? What tools did you use to make the assessment and what was the outcome of those assessments and emerging evidence?
I trust that these examples may have provided some insights on the importance for putting meaningful information into your resume.
Try to keep your resume to two pages. Take the most important elements, perhaps four to five of your highlights. Perhaps three from your most recent company and a couple form your recent past company. You should list other companies that you have worked for, but for those, you can use point forms and one line or two lines of significant achievements. Remember, the older your experience the less it will influence the recruiter.
Your education should be at the bottom of the resume unless you are fresh out of school in which case it should be on top.
If someone is looking for you long-term, you will have a problem if you have been jumping from one company to the next. It would suggest that they may not have been happy with your performance or your ability to get along with others, or, you are not happy. If you do this too often, then it is you as the common denominator. Sometimes you can’t land a permanent position and are there on a contract basis. If so, that needs to be reflected in your resume.
There are many ways to bring out the best in your resume. At Career1 we are always available to assist you, with doing exactly that. We also prepare you for an interview or find you work. Try us out.