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Subject:  Re: resume question Date:  12/8/2004  11:55 AM
Author:  PaulEngr Number:  878 of 1678

I know this is an old post (see below):

hey i am new to this board but i lurk around some others. any how my question is
i am approaching graduation with a bseet from devry and have 12 years active military service in my background. during the military service i attained the grade of staff sergeant in the army holding the postions of infantry platoon sergeant and platoon leader. my degree and my background are miles apart. how do i combine the two so that my background (personnel supervision) and my degree flow together in a smooth fashion and generate interest?
any help would be greatly apreciated.

BUT..I see two things you can do immediately.

First off, a little background about me. I hold a BSEE, an engineering management BS, and a masters in metallurgy/material science. In other words, I spent almost as much time in school as you did in the military. I've also gone through a long string of jobs in chemical and mining companies, all heavy industry, all very nasty places to work (although the people aren't so bad), all producing products that are equally nasty to deal with.

Second, you've told me two things. First off, you have supervisory experience. It is wrapped in military jargon. That is your #1 worst enemy. You've got to translate military terms into something that a business manager can understand. Get a book either at your library, a used book store, or at almost any regular book store. "Who's Hiring Who?" also has an excellent section on translating the jargon. "Who's Hiring Who?" is another good one that has similar material but it is not as in-depth as the first one when it comes to dealing with military careers. BTW, this is not just a military issue. I've had the same issues with many other fields and employers as well.

One suggestion: I'm pointing you at books that recommend functional resumes. Don't do it! Employers hate them. This is an outdated fad. They hate them because it destroys the ability to see the career progression of a candidate. However, write a hybrid. Put it in the FORM of a traditional resume but the text content is identical to what you'd put in a functional resume. This gets you the best results and it's the form that all the people I work with prefer (head hunters and employers alike).

Now, back to your original issue. You are looking to integrate what you want to do with what you've done. I don't know exactly what you're looking for, but I'll tell you this much.

The first thing is what they are NOT going to tell you in college but it's critical that you know it up front. A BSEET will NEVER, EVER be recognized as a BSEE in ANY circles. The BSEET's will do the work, and the BSEE's will get the credit. It's stupid. I realize that you did a 4 year degree too. I also realize that unlike the BSEE, you're coming out of school actually capable of doing something (unlike most BSEE's). However, that is the perception and it isn't going to change any time soon.

I know that this last paragraph probably pisses you off, but it's the truth. I have a lot of BSEET friends that were pissed off when they found it out the hard way.

Second, your education counts but you haven't had a chance to prove it yet. Your military career counts AND you've had a chance to prove it. I don't know what your particular goals are, but if the paperwork and everything else looks good, I'd hire you in a minute as an electrical maintenance supervisor. You've already got the supervisor part down. You've got a lot to learn in terms of electrical equipment "in the real world", and maintenance as well. But you've demonstrated leadership prior to this so you should survive it.

To clinch this, you've got to think about everything you've done and stick as many maintenance items in your experiences as you can. In fact, even if there's no maintenance involved, if you can put a little "I've slogged through sewage in a swamp in some godforsaken place to accomplish my mission and was successful", that will say worlds about your ability to get dirty (which is a prerequisite to maintenance jobs).

There are other routes. But that's the sort of "supervisor+electrical" direction that you probably should consider. I'll tell you one more major piece of advice. The most stable jobs (the ones that survive reorganizations and downsizings) are in production and maintenance, not engineering and middle management.

Also, front line supervisor is the most thankless job you can get. They say crap rolls downhill. That's true. But, there's a valley at the bottom. It rolls downhill from the hourly guys, and it rolls downhill from upper management. And the guy at the bottom of that hill is the front line supervisor. You will get crapped on by absolutely everybody. And you'll do your time for a few years. And then you will be considered worthy of upper management and you'll be another rising star in the business world.

Other routes that I can think of right off kinda suck. You'd have to go after "typical" BSEET jobs such as the testing department in an electronics manufacturing or battery company, or PLC programming, or E&I technician, or any one of a dozen other jobs that says "I'm one step ahead of your average electrician". But that 100% downplays your experience as a ground pounder.

I don't even know if maintenance supervisor is what you're looking for. But if it is, do yourself a favor. On, put in the word "maintenance" as a keyword and set the filter to limit it to a few geographic areas. You'll get lots of hits. Now read the title lines carefully and narrow the list down to just the ones that apply to you. Send resumes, etc., to those places. Also, check (the largest head hunter company out there). Also, here's a more obscure head hunter outfit. Look for "SHS of Allentown" on the internet. They have a guy there that specializes in explosives and one that specializes in of all things, the battery industry. There's also a mining specialist there but that's only if you want truly grubby jobs that pay well and you can tolerate moving around a lot (industry cycles are nasty in mining).

In fact, if you want to go after my pet industry (mining), right now, gold mining companies are doing fantastic and are hiring like mad. Just realize that you've got about 18 months before the cycle will reverse and then they'll have massive layoffs. Also in the same line, the iron/steel industry is going great guns. For a relatively obscure company, try "Cleveland Cliffs" web site. They're hiring again in Michigan. It's a rough place to live and work, but beautiful scenery and beautiful summers. Again...not a permanent place. But a place to get resume material from that says "Make it in your company? Hell, I've seen hell and survived it. You're a bunch of cream puffs!"

Finally, this is important. Target companies that you know have jobs open or available. And keep in mind that the HR department is your worst enemy (unless you're going for an HR job). Headhunters and personal contacts are most useful getting you around HR and to the guy who does the hiring. Sometimes they'll create jobs if you go through a head hunter and/or networking contacts. I have had 2 jobs that were created because of my credentials. One was a bomb and one was a blast. The old "basket of resumes" approach rarely ever works. They get those already and just toss them without even looking.

Finally, think of this like a sales job. You've got a very limited inventory (just one item to sell). And it's like a new'll have to knock on a lot of doors to find a buyer. I personally still keep my files with a "places to look", "applied", and "FOAD" category. FOAD=F***-Off And Die. When you get a FOAD, it will read "We're sorry but we don't want you for whatever nice reason the secretary could come up with. But we'll keep your resume on file." In file-13 of course!

On average, each time I've gone job shopping, it has taken me about a month. They say the average time is 6 months. I've usually gotten a dozen or more nibbles during that time, and 2-3 bites. And hooked just one. But I've sent out at least 30-40 feelers into the targetted areas I've described. Right now in my files, I've got 12 listed in applied, 8 FOAD's, and one "place to look" outstanding. I've only been looking for a week. I've gotten 3 nibbles. I rejected 2. And I have a plant interview/tour next week already.

My worst "out of work" time was for 2 months. It took me 6 weeks to land the job, and 2 weeks to pack up and move. The money-stress really sucked. My wife wasn't working at the time so we had no income. We had just gone through Christmas (serious income drain there). And we were just recovering from buying a new house and spending money on all the big ticket items that go with it (mower, stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc.) I had just 3 months of savings before we'd go into credit card debt just for living expenses. And this is really bad for us since we really had to move. The downpayment is the really big hurdle when you start going state-to-state and you need houses and not just apartments.

This time around, we have over 6 months of savings if we had no income, and my wife is working. At the rate we're going, we could tolerate a full year without me working. But as I said worst time period was shortly after 9/11/01 when things just sucked all over. The economy was in a recession. I took this last job because (A) It paid money, (B) It was mostly in my field, and (C) Pickings were slim anyways. I hated most of it, but it served a purpose.

The interview I go for next week is (A) The right job, (B) in almost the most desirable location, (C) for the right level of money, (D) with the right kind of people, (E) in the right industry, with (F) good opportunity in the future. I want this one REALLY bad. But even if it doesn't work out, I've got backups already in the works.

The last time that a similar job came up (right job, right location, right money, right industry), I was rejected because of an internal problem the company had; they couldn't agree internally on what they were looking for in terms of personality from the candidates. One group wanted command/authority oriented supervisors. The other group wanted "team oriented" supervisors. I was warned ahead of time and came prepared to deal with the latter group. The trouble was that the command/authority types were in an internal battle with the "team oriented" types and they were losing. They weren't about to allow any new players to come on board for the opposing team. So I didn't stand a chance regardless of whether I presented myself as either one.

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