Posts Tagged ‘career changes’
A friend of mine who was looking to change careers asked me last week for some ideas of tailoring his resume to expedite his search. Here’s what I told him, and this advice is for you too. Here are two examples but there are many; always keep in mind whether you are in sales or management this applies; “sales are sales”; if you know how to sell the product is incidental. Same is true of management. A personal friend of mine worked in management in six or seven different companies, all different products. If you understand people, “management is management”, only the product changes. If you are a machinist and run a lathe; you can be easily trained to run a mill or drill-press.
If you are seeking a job in a new area, you should first identify and describe any previous work experience in the best light possible while identifying the most relevant duties performed. Job descriptions are no longer seen as helpful ways for employers to evaluate potential employers, and many of them are looking for accomplishment-focused phrases and results-oriented statements. So tailor your resumes toward this.
Using Action Verbs in Resumes
Use action verbs. These are words that are used specifically in resumes to accurately and succinctly indicate what a job applicant accomplished in their last position. These phrases begin with an action word such as designed, sold or instructed and leave out unnecessary words such as the, a and also. The phrases sound crisp and leave the distinct impression that you have been active.
The best action verbs depend on the specific job duties you performed, but some example action verbs could include: billed, wrote, supervised, managed, analyzed, directed, trained, planned, taught, developed, maintained, organized, initiated or produced. When you write your resume you should pick one verb for each line and then elaborate.
Accomplishments to Mention on a Resume
If you haven’t had to look for a job for several years – you may have a difficult time figuring out which of their past accomplishments are best to focus on when choosing the action words for their resumes.
These questions may help when trying to determine which verbs are best to describe the results of each pertinent job duty:
- Did I improve efficiency – how?
- How did I perform the job better than expected?
- Did I implement anything new that benefited the organization?
- Did I receive any awards or special recognition as a result of past performance?
Tips When Changing Careers
Researching the new field or profiling the specific job the applicant is looking for is the most important aspect of changing careers. The more knowledge you have about the company the better your chance to market your existing skills. By using the Internet, research has never been easier. Employers are impressed by applicants who have taken the time to find out about their businesses.
All too often data in resumes is presented quite vaguely, leaving the hiring manager to wonder what the candidate really knows and what skills s/he actually has. This is especially true regarding computer skills, whether the applicant is an office worker or an IT professional.
For example, an office worker may feel it’s enough to list skills in this manner: Technically proficient in Microsoft Office and other software.
After reading the above, the hiring manager may very well wonder what other software? What part of Microsoft Office—all or only Word and Excel? And, what version?
When your data raises more questions than it answers, it’s no longer effective. To maximize your information, be specific. For example, the previous statement should say this:
Technically proficient in Microsoft Office (Premium 2000), including Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, Access, PowerPoint, Front Page, and Photo Draw. Additional expertise in Word Perfect, Quicken, Peachtree Accounting, Lexis-Nexus, and Westlaw.
At a glance, the above provides instant and specific data to a hiring manager. However, a candidate—especially in the IT field—should go one step further by providing years or months of experience.
In today’s competitive job market, hiring managers demand that information on resumes be well-prioritized and specific. It’s not enough to state that you have proficiency in Microsoft Word. You must state how many months or years of experience you have or your level of expertise, whether it’s beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Hiring managers will not call you for an interview, nor will they test your skills unless they are first provided this essential data.
The nature of IT is ever-evolving. Therefore, an IT professional should showcase relevant skills as specifically and completely as possible.
Organize technical data into subheadings such as:
- Operating Systems
- Programming Languages
- Software Packages
- Any other technical proficiencies
One way to present this data would be a simple listing. For example:
- LAN Administration: Windows 2000 Server, Windows NT 3.51/4.0, Novell 3.12/4.1
- Operating Systems: Windows 2000/NT/XP, Windows 98/95, Macintosh OS
- Software: Microsoft SQL, SNA, SMS , Site Server & IIS, CA XCOM, SAS, Microsoft Visual Studio, Source Safe, Cognos Enterprise Server, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, AS/400-Windows Connectivity Applications, cc:Mail , Multiple Windows Communications Applications
- Productivity Software: Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Project
- Hardware: PCs, Compaq Servers, HP NetServers, IBM NetFinity Servers, AS400 20, SCO Unix OpenServer, Macintosh
- Certifications: Candidate for MCDBA, Candidate for CCNA/CCDA, Candidate for MCSE, Microsoft Certified System Administrator, Novell Certified Administrator, Novell Certified Engineer
An even more effective way to maximize technical data is to provide specific information in an easy-to-read format. For example:
Oracle 8/8i/9i, 4 years
SQL Server 6.5/7.0/2000, 6 years
Microsoft Access, 6 years
MySQL, 6 months
UNIX , 4 years
LINUX, 4 years
Windows Operating Systems, 12 years
DOS, 12 years
Macintosh, 4 years
ShellScript, 3 years
PL/SQL, 4 years
ASP, 5 years
JAVA/JSP, 1 year
DHTML, 3 years
SQL Navigator, 4 years
TOAD, 2 years
Oracle *Net, 4 years
Import/Export, 3 years
SQL *Loader, 3 years
Enterprise Manager, 3 years
Performance Manager, 2 years
The above example is specific yet easy to read and understand quickly and enhances an applicant’s candidacy for an IT position.
Today’s economic news may be gloom and doom but it needn’t derail your job hunt. You can still win a great job, even in a lousy economy. You WILL have to get smarter in your job search strategy, though.
Here are 5 tips to incorporate into your job search approach during the recession:
1. Research Your Options
Does your industry or line of work offer little promise of employment in the coming months? If so, now is a good time to step back to identify the projected top performing industries and jobs. The best place to find this info is on the web through Google or Yahoo. Start with “best industries work recession” or “recession jobs 2008″ to uncover articles describing some of the more recession-proof sectors to target.
2. Change Your Focus
Start asking yourself the question, “What’s in it for them?” as opposed to, “What’s in it for me?” Especially in an economic downturn, you’ll want to stay focused on what you can accomplish for your next employer. Show them that you understand the macroeconomic “bigger picture” of the role you play in moving the company forward.
3. Sell Results, Not Skills
Leave behind that old mindset that your job-related skills or length of service are selling factors. The new mindset is to think of yourself as a mini profit-and-loss center rather than just an employee. Employers today buy results and are less impressed with candidates promoting a long laundry list of skills. You’ll want to define the many ways your past and present job performance are assets to your next employer.
4. Start Talking Money
The recession has made the private sector economy even more bottom-line oriented than ever. Hiring managers categorize employees into one of two distinct groups:
a.) those who help make money
b.) those who help save money.
Which one are you?
For example, Barry worked as the human resources manager of a mid-sized company. While much of his work focused on compliance issues, he noticed that the company was paying many thousands of dollars to locate and hire good employees. As a result, Barry developed and implemented an in-house employee referral program that netted three quality hires in a six-month period. This saved the company almost $70,000 that the company would have paid for recruiters and advertising costs.
Barry saves money for his company and this is an accomplishment future employers will want to hear about.
Rethink your current or past job to understand your position in the bigger corporate P&L picture. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How did my work improve the performance of my department or company?
- How many roles did I perform that saved the company the expense of added employees or contractors?
- How has my work made the work of others (employees and managers) easier, faster and more effective?
Collect specific examples of the benefits that your company gained from the work you’ve already performed. Clarify the specific benefit your company received by making money or saving money, and write them down.
5. Add Achievements to Your Resume
Employers don’t hire employees, they hire problem-solvers. Your new resume should be a hard-hitting sales tool designed to accomplish one goal: get the interview. To demonstrate this, add a specific achievements list to your resume. Take the list that you developed in the previous section and hone it down to your biggest and most notable accomplishments. Now, describe the benefit that your employer gained from each example. This will put you several steps ahead of your job-seeking competitors. Plus, you’ll now have some talking points ready for that next phone interview.