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Author: PaulEngr Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 49438  
Subject: Re: Best way to organize resume Date: 12/16/2004 11:18 AM
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First off, I'm not going to use fluff. Everything in here is real examples from my own resumes that has landed me a job in the past. So you can argue that I'm taking a specific situation and applying it generally, but I'm also supplying my reasoning behind what I did on my resume.

I've used the format of listing both individual jobs within a single company (multiple headings) and listing just one company with multiple responsibilities. It depends on the situation. When I first started out, I had just one employer and two positions within that employer that were significantly different. One was in R&D and one was a field engineer. So I broke it out into two separate "jobs" especially since they were very different (field engineering vs. R&D) and I wanted to make that case.

As to the functional resumes, my advice (based on experience) is to stay away. I tried that approach. I got very few calls back. Every single one asked for a traditional resume. The functional resume was a fad that is still floating around, and employers hate it. You can't believe the amount of negative feedback I got from people that I trust. That even goes for "job shops" where that type of resume was supposed to be popular. I eventually rewrote it in the hybrid format I'll describe below and I've gotten "rave reviews" from people that spend a lot of time looking at resumes ever since.

The problem with functional resumes is that they totally annihilate "career progression". They do an excellent job of highlighting your skills and abilities but they do not show a shred of your personal development. An employer wants to know if you are "unpromotable" dead weight material and a functional resume hides that. In contrast, traditional resumes show development but they typically do a lousy job of highlighting your skills and abilities.

Instead, I use a hybrid. The ideas behind a functional resume are great, but the formatting sucks. The idea here is to take exactly what you would have put in a functional resume but to format it like a traditional one.

I mostly just modify what I have already. But when I started this format, I did the planning for the functional resume. I grouped my skills into categories and did the whole enchilada by the book. Then I took that exact same list of skills and highlighted them where I used them under the appropriate job.

Think of it like a Chili's/Applebees menu. They group everything into headings like "salads", "chicken", "beef", etc. But within those categories, you've got "Southwestern, BBQ, oriental, traditional". My headings are specific jobs. And my skills are the "flavors". The restaurants could have listed "flavors" and then put the types of foods under those. But that breaks with tradition too much, so they stick with what people are used to.

A traditional resume heading is "employer, date, title". I changed the order up a bit since this highlights the employer and not you. The headings on my resume are "title, employer, date", which runs from most to least important. I tried scrubbing dates but got too many negative comments (career progression). I dropped "locations" as well since I've only seen a couple people who care (the ones that want to know if you went to the same high school).

I changed the "Jobs" heading to "Experience". Early on since I was in graduate school and worked on multiple projects instead of JUST my thesis project, I need to be able to show that my graduate degree was more like an R&D job. It also opens up a lot of other stuff you can stick in the category (without abusing tradition too much). The traditional format doesn't do very well for this.

Under the title, I put down a single line describing my primary responsibilities. But I still put it in a format which made it sound like an accomplishment. For instance,

"Responsible for process engineering for 4 mill sites scattered over a 600 square mile area."

Then I summarized a few major accomplishments and put specific dollar or percentage or numerical amounts on everything. The goal here is to convey to someone who knows nothing about the business what the impact of your existence was that they can relate to. 100% qualitative lines (merged 2 departments, wrote ISO procedures, etc.) do not convey the impact you've had on the company. For instance:

"Supervised a crew of 3 mechanics. Accompanied each one to the hospital for injuries during the first year. Zero accidents during the second year."

"Overhauled a 1950's vintage mill site. Resulting upgrade increased production capacity 50%, decreased staffing 25%, increased yield 10%, and decreased unit costs by 20%".

Avoid saying "Trained on XYZ". Nobody cares that you learned XYZ. They care how you APPLIED that knowledge. You can often fold that into the accomplishments by saying that you DID something using XYZ, and state the results of your accomplishments.

"Developed disciplined, ISO documented approach to kiln operation. Moved success rate of water quality lime production from 20-25% to 90%+ success rate by eliminating process cycles. Documents were then used as a model for several other sites."

Personally, taking on the ISO process at that company, learning the engineering side of running a kiln, and discovering a control mechanism for this particular process instead of pushing fuel efficiency (which is the only thing my engineering friends were doing) was a huge accomplishment, and something that I'm very proud of. But it doesn't work at all on a resume. Instead, this one paragraph says it in a very business-oriented statement of results.

One final issue that I'd suggest you watch out for given your progression (6 roles, 7 years). A lot of companies have things like "Manager grade 1, 2, 3". This is extremely common in those using the Hay system. Nobody outside that company knows what the grades mean. Use a title that is appropriate to the job but generic enough that you won't raise eyebrows (and stimulate odd conversation) when they do reference checks.

For instance, in one job, I worked field engineering and in R&D. The official titles were "engineer grade 1, 2, 3". I relabelled those to "engineer" and "senior engineer". My current job is labelled "maintenance supervisor". I made more money with that title than "superintendent" (aren't job descriptions silly?). I was head of the maintenance department. So to avoid confusion, I relabelled it "maintenance manager" on my resume.


Anyways, I can't say that this is the best way for everybody. But it does work for me. And it has worked for my wife. My longest out of work season (keep in mind that I have a very rare college degree & an even more rare career background; Manpower doesn't do anything for me) was just 6 weeks, during the 2001/2002 downturn, at or above the national income average for the my career, and knowing that the money was going to run out in just 3 months. So I don't buy the idea that people couldn't find work during the recession. I was there. It happened to me. I survived, and actually prospered.
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