Posts Tagged ‘Resume Writing’
I received a resume from an Air Force NCO (non-commissioned officer) who has recently transitioned from active duty into the reserves. The NCO makes a number of common military transition mistakes in his resume.
The core of the problem is the NCO writes a resume focusing entirely on his qualifications in the military. It would be a good resume if he wanted a job in the Air Force. Unfortunately, that’s not his goal. This individual is looking to do something in the commercial sector. He wants to utilize some of the skills he gained in the military, but he is targeting a civilian job.
Let’s look at the structure:
Objective: To use the training and experience I received in the military to make a significant contribution, as a civilian, in making my community a safer place to live.
Technical Training: <long list of military training classes, almost all are related to specific combat activities or Air Force equipment>
Work History: <Listing to job titles and dates in the Air Force>
Experience: <A bulleted list showing the scope of responsibility in various leadership roles held by the NCO>
Certifications: <A certification related to the career field the NCO wants to pursue>
Awards: <A list of performance awards won by the NCO>
There is some good content in this resume, but most of it is of little value to an employer. This individual wants a role using his Hazmat skills. He has taken several training classes in this field, has a certification related to the field and one year of experience.
Unfortunately, digging this detail out of the resume takes too much work. The emphasis of the resume is on his military experience. The military experience shows a pattern of success and progression of increasing responsibility. This is a good track record, but it does little to show what the job seeker would do in a completely different role. The military experience and success in the roles he held should play a supporting role on his resume. The lead role is his experience and skill in the hazmat field.
Below is how I would restructure the resume:
Professional Summary: <A summary statement and bulleted list of key skills, training, certifications and accomplishments directly related to hazmat>
Work Experience: <Job Listing with details of hazmat experience, leadership experience and other transferrable skills>
Education: <Listing of education and training received>
Awards: <Listing of awards>
This structure focuses the top half of the first page on the hazmat experience and skills. It is much more relevant to a hiring manager than the previous version that listed courses such as “USAF Airborne Battle Management Course.” Expanding the work experience section to provide significantly more detail on the job seeker’s responsibilities and accomplishments will also help.
The bottom line is the NCO needs to make a sales pitch for what he can contribute in the private sector, and more specifically, in the role he is pursuing. Showing success in the military is nice, but there is a lot of competition for jobs. The successful job seeker will demonstrate the value they can offer. Demonstrating this value comes from showing key skills and accomplishments. To maximize the effectiveness of the sales pitch, it needs to be at the top of the resume, not buried further down.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of accomplishments on a resume. Accomplishments show what you did, while responsibilities show what you’re supposed to do. Because accomplishments are so important to make a good impression, you should separate them from the list of responsibilities. The resume I read this morning did the opposite of this.
The resume had a chronological structure, with four sections: Objective, Work Experience, Education and Certifications. The structure works pretty well. I would have added a fifth section, Technical Skills, because the job seeker is in a very technical engineering role in the telecom industry. This isn’t the big problem, though. The work experience section does little to show whether the job seeker has been successful.
In the work experience section, each listing followed the same format:
Job Title, Employment Dates
Company Name, City and State
<A bulleted list of responsibilities and accomplishments>
By titling the text under each job as Responsibilities, the job seeker creates an expectation that there won’t be any accomplishments listed. It is unnecessary to say specifically “Responsibilities,” because anyone reading the resume is going to expect some description of the role.
I turns out the job seeker did list some accomplishments. There weren’t many, but each job had at least one. In each case, it was the last bullet listed under each job. This ensures someone reading the resume will find the accomplishments as one of the last items read.
An easy way to fix this would be to summarize the responsibilities in a paragraph and put the accomplishments in a bulleted list. This will draw the reader’s attention to the accomplishments ahead of the responsibilities and make a much stronger first impression.
Sales is a field where the emphasis on quantifiable metrics is extremely high within the hiring process. Hiring managers look for sales professionals who have an established track record of beating their goals. Sales goals are easily measured and are one of the most commonly published metrics in an organization. This makes it extremely easy to find sales data for your resume. Despite this many job seekers omit hard data on their sales performance.
There’s a good reason many omit the information. Sales is a field with a high failure rate. There are a lot of sales people who just aren’t that good. They may work hard and land some sales, but struggle to reach the company’s goals. Putting sales numbers on a resume would highlight this poor performance, so they leave them off.
For a hiring manager, demonstrated success in sales is critical. Most will assume the job seeker was a failure if the job seeker doesn’t specifically tell them otherwise. The resume I read today made this mistake. It didn’t give enough information to know if the job seeker was successful, or if he was a failure.
The problem started in the cover letter. It is 178 words long. That’s on the long side for a cover letter, but isn’t too long. In it, there are five paragraphs. The first explains the person is seeking a business development role. The second and fourth paragraphs make general claims about a successful track record through the career, but nothing specific. The fifth paragraph is a simple closing.
The middle paragraph has four bullet points. A bulleted list in a cover letter is like a giant magnet for attention. Most people will be drawn to the list before they read the majority of the letter. That’s what I did. I read the first sentence of the cover letter and jumped to the bullets. Here’s what I found:
- Creativity in developing new business opportunities
- Credibility based on previous success
- Proven executive experience
- Positive attitude and desire to succeed
I’m not sure how a successful sales person could write something this boring and expect to grab a person’s attention. A desire to succeed is a good quality, but I assume anyone successful has that. If that’s one of the most impressive qualities you have to market, you’re in trouble.
After reading the bullets, I skipped to the resume. The only reason I know what is in the other paragraphs of the cover letter is I read it to write this article. The bullets made it clear it was a waste of time to read, and that conclusion was proven correct when I did read it.
In the resume, the job seeker included a few performance metrics. Each job listed a few big clients he landed, some with deals in excess of $10 million. Selling multi-million dollar deals is a marketable experience, but it still doesn’t answer the question about the success of the job seeker. In sales, you have to remember the old quote, “Even a blind squirrel will find a nut every now and then.” Is this job seeker a blind squirrel occasionally tripping over a sale, or is he a superstar?
The resume covers 11 years of sales experience. In it, the job seeker lists four years where he lists his performance relative to his quota. In those four years, three are listed as meeting 100% of quota and one is listed as hitting 350% of quota. The 350% year immediately preceded the three 100% years.
So we have a sales professional, who in 11 years of selling, is telling us he met the minimum expectations for his job four times, and once had a “blind squirrel finding a nut” year blowing his targets out of the water. He wants us to hire him because he’s creative, credible, experienced, and has a desire to succeed.
Now, you’re a sales manager trying to fill a key position. Sales are down, the economy is tough, and you can add one key person. If the person comes in and is successful, you will keep your job and may even earn a bonus. If the person bombs, you’re likely to get canned. Is this candidate going to get your attention? Are you going to bet your career on his performance?
So, what could this job seeker do? He should give more detail on his performance. What were his quotas each year and how did he perform? He had a long run with the same company, so there’s a chance he was more successful than the picture I painted. The three years he listed that he met 100% of his quota, he notes he received a corporate Circle of Excellence Award. Usually, awards indicate exceeding expectations by a significant amount. If his quota was a stretch goal, he should really show what his performance was relative to his minimum expectations. Even better, listing how he performed relative to other sales people would help. He may have been the best sales person in the company, or the worst. We have no way of knowing.
The key is giving a hiring manager insight into how your boss would assess your performance. The more detail you can provide about your specific performance, the more credible and impressive your background will be.
Experienced professionals often struggle with deciding how many of their jobs to list and how much detail to provide for each. This can be a tough decision. On a two page resume, you won’t have enough room to write in detail about everything.
You should provide at least the last ten years in detail. Hiring managers will be much more interested in your recent experience, so you want to prioritize this. You can summarize your experience further back if you don’t go into detail. For example, you could include a line like:
Progressed from entry level production supervision to materials management, including roles as production controller and logistics manager.
This line would take the reader from the start of your career up to the place on the resume where the detail starts, a materials management position. In this example, the progression is fairly typically, starting in production and shifting over to materials through a serious of positions. Most materials professionals will recognize this career path and won’t need additional information.
If you have been with a single company for more than 10 years, you should show the entire progression with them. Stability with a single company is a very positive sign on a resume. It shows the person was successful through the progression of promotions. List the full progression, since it demonstrates a strong pattern of success. For positions a long time ago, you can summarize the experience by listing the jobs, for example:
- Logistics Manager December 1992 to July 2000
- Production Controller August 1988 to December 1992
- Shipping Supervisor March 1985 to August 1988
- Production Supervisor June 1980 to March 1985
This shows the progression without any detail, just the titles and dates. From this point forward, the resume would show the detail of the materials management experience. You could even consolidate the summary further:
Held production supervision, production control and logistics management positions from June 1980 to July 2000.
This is a short summary providing enough information for a hiring manager to understand how you got to the materials role.
Job seekers who return to school in the middle of their careers have a different challenge. Getting a degree can transform a career, allowing a person to switch paths completely. In this case, the experience prior to completing the degree may be irrelevant. For example, consider a person who worked in hourly production roles and completed an IT degree. The person upon graduation takes a job as a network administrator and moves along an IT career path from that point forward. In this case, there’s little benefit to the experience prior to completing the degree, and it can probably be omitted, especially if it is more than ten years ago.
For older workers, there is a lot of concern about age discrimination. Listing every job back to start of a career will help ensure hiring managers know exactly how old you are. There’s no reason to highlight this. List the last 15 to 20 years, giving significant detail to the last 10.
The main reason you want to omit or summarize your experience from more than 10 years ago is it allows you to focus on the last 10 years in much greater detail. Your recent accomplishments are your biggest selling points, and you want to focus on them.
Checking your resume for typos, spelling errors and grammar mistakes is essential. It is likely you proofread it numerous times and had friends check it for mistakes. This effort will hopefully eliminate all errors. Writing cover letters and filling in text boxes for online job applications is a different story. You can’t work on everything you write for weeks or months with numerous reviewers. So, how can you reduce the likelihood of sending out a bunch of typos?
If you struggle with typos in your writing, I’m going to share some techniques that will help you minimize mistakes. These are the techniques I’ve learned to use with my blog, and can help you improve the quality of your cover letters and other communications.
After writing more than 350 articles for this blog, I’ve gotten much better at minimizing typos. There has been a definite learning curve. I’ve always done a lot of writing, but nothing on this scope. I’ve learned techniques to make it much less likely I’ll publish something with a mistake. Equally important, the techniques I’ve learned haven’t slowed me down. I write, review and publish a typical blog article in a single time block, usually an hour to an hour and a half, first thing in the morning. This gives little time to check an article.
Some people will say I should prioritize proofreading higher and devote more time to proofreading. If I adopted a scheduled where I write and review articles a week ahead of publishing them, and then review them the day I post them, I could do a better job with typos. Even better, I could send each article to a professional proofreader for review. This just doesn’t fit my posting schedule. I want to write and immediately post. This requires other techniques to quickly and effectively review each document.
The challenge with proofreading your own work is you know what you meant to write. I have a lot of trouble with this. I can type 30 to 40 words per minute with decent accuracy, and over 50 with mistakes. As I write, I get impatient and push my speed beyond what I can do. This will produce incorrect letters and even skipped words. I’ve found lately I’ve been typing “you” for “your” by leaving the “r” off a lot. I’ve also been leaving out small words – is, be, are, of, at – are a few examples. Even worse, I’ve caught places where I miss contractions. In Friday’s article, I found a place where I typed “can” but meant to type “can’t.” This completely changed the meaning of the sentence. Fortunately, I found it before I published the article.
As I proofread, I read what I meant to type. If the sentence is supposed to have “your” and I type “you,” I read the “your” because I know that’s what it says. Someone else reading it would immediately see the error, though. There are ways to fix this, and I’m going to share my process.
My review process has four steps:
I write everything in Word. The spelling/grammar checker will automatically check everything as I type. This catches a lot of obvious mistakes. You need to have the real-time grammar checker turned on for this to work. You also need to pay attention any time Word underlines something in red (spelling) or green (grammar). By paying attention major mistakes as I type them, I avoid a lot of the errors.
Errors found by Word are the low hanging fruit. They are so easy to see and fix, there’s no excuse for not fixing them. I really hate getting a resume written in Word that has a bunch of underlined red text indicating spelling mistakes. It jumps off the screen before I can start reading the resume. All the job seeker needed to do was turn on the real-time grammar checker. Failing to do this will make a poor impression.
Unfortunately, Word can only catch major mistakes. Using the wrong word often will not be caught by the software. For example, the “you/your” mistake I’ve been making lately is one that Word often misses. This first check will not be perfect. It’s just a starting point to clean up the big stuff.
The second quality check I run is with WhiteSmoke, a standalone grammar checking software package. The software is designed to catch more grammar mistakes than Word or other word processors. In my experience, it works. When I first got WhiteSmoke, I checked a number of documents in Word, fixed the errors, and then ran then through WhiteSmoke. In my writing, this process will find an additional one to two typos for every 200 words I write. Now, WhiteSmoke isn’t perfect. It still will not find everything, and it gives a number of false positives. I would estimate that half the errors it identifies are actually correct, but I’ll take a few false positives to help uncover the mistakes.
I have a lot good to say about WhiteSmoke. The bottom line is I use it. The software is much more accurate than Word, it’s easy to use and the technical support team is helpful and responsive. Despite this, there is one major drawback. WhiteSmoke is supposed to integrate with any software package including Word and Outlook. There’s something in my windows settings that prevents this from working and WhiteSmoke doesn’t have an answer for fixing it.
To use WhiteSmoke, I copy what I write over into the WhiteSmoke window and run the check. I then review the edits and make them manually in the original document. This is a little tedious, but works. The way the software is supposed to work, you highlight the text in Word, hit one of the function keys and WhiteSmoke will then open a window and check the document. As you review the errors, you can simply click the corrections. At the end, you click Apply and WhiteSmoke will copy the changes back to the original document. This is great when it works, but in my experience, it rarely works, so I use the more tedious manual method. Even though it is a little tedious, the software works and makes me more efficient and reduces errors.
(WhiteSmoke Review: This article was 1770 words when checked. WhiteSmoke identified 2 spelling errors, 14 grammar errors and 1 style error. In reviewing the errors, the spelling errors were places where I failed to capitalize the “s” in WhiteSmoke. Of the 14 grammar errors, I made six changes and found the other eight were actually correct. The style error was also a good suggestion resulting in a change. So in total, I made 9 separate changes to the article on top of Word’s suggestions because of WhiteSmoke.)
Read Out Loud
The third step in my review process is to read the text out loud. I really shouldn’t call this reading. When done right, I read each word individually out loud. Reading full sentences quickly causes me to see what I meant to write, not what actually ended up on the screen. Going slow and reading each word is the best way to find places where the writing is awkward, or where I used the wrong word. It is much more effective when reading out loud. Start at the beginning and say each word individually. Go slow and you will pick up on errors. This process is a little tedious. If you read any of my articles in the last six months and see some obvious errors, it’s very likely I skipped this step.
Another technique when reading out load is to read from the bottom up. Read each sentence individually, starting with the last sentence of the document. This process is a little slower, but can be more effective. It keeps you from getting into a rhythm with what you know should be there.
(Reading Out Loud Review: I printed the article and read it out loud. This identified 29 additional changes. Many were corrections to grammar errors. A few were changes were to text that was correct, but the changes made the text read better.)
Google Spell Check
After checking a document in Word and WhiteSmoke, and reading it out loud, there shouldn’t be any obvious errors. Despite this, I always run a quick spell check from the Google Toolbar before publishing each article. I do this in case I added new spelling errors as I edit and format the document in the browser window. It’s rare that I catch a mistake with this last minute check, but I still do it. I know I can’t write and review an article in under an hour several days a week and never have a mistake. At the same time, I really don’t want obvious errors that jump off the page, and running spell check one last time can’t hurt.
You can get the Google Spell Check function with the Google toolbar. All you have to do is hit the button, and it will spell check any form boxes in the browser window.
This is my four step process. It’s not perfect. My goal for this blog is to provide a lot of high quality advice. Minimizing errors is important to me, but at the end of the day, this is just a blog. I write quickly and will not be perfect. Every time I write a blog article about typos or proofreading, I get comments from readers who are deeply offended by every typo I make. Hopefully, the majority of people will learn from my articles. In this article, I hope you get something that helps your writing, especially for your job search. There are other techniques we can employ and further improve the quality of our writing.
Proofreading in a different location than where you wrote the document can help the review process. It will get you out of the thought process you had when you wrote the document. Printing the document can help this too. Both techniques will allow you focus more on what is written instead of what you meant to write.
Letting a document sit for several days can make it much easier to proofread. You will forget what you meant to write, and read the document as if you weren’t the author.
Get a second opinion. Ask a friend, co-worker or family member to review important documents. They will pick up on errors you may have missed.
Hire a professional proofreader. I can’t overstate the benefit of a professional. Not only will they give you a second set of eyes on a document, but they are trained to spot mistakes. When I wrote my book, Power Up Your Job Search: A Modern Approach to Interview Preparation, I used two professional proofreaders. The first reviewed a preliminary copy of the book and corrected a number of major mistakes. I used the second proofreader late in the process after we had completed a number of rewrites. The results were fantastic and the two proofreaders help cut months off the editing process.
Getting a second opinion or a professional proofreader will work in a lot of situations, but isn’t practical for everything. You can’t stop in the middle of every job application form and send your text to a proofreader. Even a lightning fast turnaround of a few hours will cause your job search to grind to a halt. At some point, you will need a DIY approach, and I hope my techniques help you to write a little more effectively and accurately.
Everyone knows you should proofread and spell check your resume. Unfortunately, a single resume document isn’t sufficient for a job search today. Many companies require job seekers to apply through lengthy online forms. Each field collects different information, and you will need to write answers to questions not covered in your resume.
The text you put in an online application needs to be professional. You can’t have a ton of spelling errors and think you are going to make a good impression. Submitting a job application isn’t like other writing activities – you will be judged very critically. Many job seekers struggle with this. They use spell check effectively but are lost as soon as they have to fill in a web form. There are solutions to help eliminate mistakes.
If you use the google toolbar, there is a spell check tool you can use. All you have to do is click the button on the toolbar and google will spell check all the text in the form fields on a web page. This tool doesn’t have a grammar check component. It also won’t identify places where you misspell a word by typing a different word. For example, I’ve found lately I continue to type “you” for “your” when writing. I can’t type as fast as I would like and end up missing a letter here and there. Spell check will never find this mistake, and a grammar checker won’t even find it a lot of the time.
Despite missing some errors, the google spell check will catch obvious misspellings. It’s easy to add and only takes a few seconds to run.
Using a Word Professor
To check your text more thoroughly, copy it over to a word processor and run the grammar checker. This is more time consuming, but will help you avoid mistakes on applications. It’s definitely worth the time.
There are other tools to help you avoid typos in your writing. I use a number of checks to try to avoid mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, hopefully you have noticed a vast improvement over the last year and a half. I find it extremely difficult to see mistakes in my writing. I know what I meant to write and have trouble seeing what I actually typed. This is especially difficult when I proofread immediately after writing. For this blog, this is how I write. I usually spend less than an hour from the time I start an article until I hit publish. That doesn’t give much time to edit.
On Monday, I am going to outline the full process I use to write and edit an article quickly. It’s reasonably effective, but not perfect. Within the process, there are four different checks I do to catch errors. I’ve worked to balance the effectiveness of the editing process with the time required. Check back Monday to see if some of the checks I do can help you improve your writing on cover letters and job applications.
One of the greatest job search challenges people struggle with is identifying a wide range of substantive accomplishments to include on their resume. Accomplishments show what you did. Part of the difficulty lies in how companies measure performance.
Every company uses metrics to measure performance. Some companies have comprehensive metric tracking, while others use only a few measures. In either case, the metrics show the performance of an aspect of the company. With a well designed metric system, improving the individual measures will improve the bottom line of the company.
For many people, showing how they directly improved a company’s bottom line can be difficult or impossible. This is where the metrics help. You can show how you improved key areas of the company that are recognized to be drivers of the organization’s success.
For example, in the NFL, how could you assess the performance of a running back? This is made difficult by the variance in the quality of the teams and the different offensive strategies used around the league. Although a running back can have a significant effect on the success of a team, he cannot win alone. So how would you decide who is successful and who isn’t? Football, like all sports, has a number of metrics used to judge a player’s performance. For a running back, this could be yards/game, yards/carry, total yards in a season, touchdowns scored, fumbles and a host of other stats. These metrics measure individual performance and help differentiate runners.
In your career, you should identify the key metrics for your job and track them. Typically, these will be a part of your performance evaluations. Some companies publish their metrics on a regular basis so employees know how the organization is performing. This makes it easier. If your company doesn’t do this, you may have to do a little more work, but you can still show you performance.
There are a tremendous number of metrics. The Supply Chain Council has a benchmarking program with over 400 metrics to choose from. The Performance Management Group is a consulting firm that helps companies improve their metrics. They list 95 metrics they routinely use with clients. For example, PMG lists seven metrics for order fulfillment lead times:
- Customer Signature/Authorization to Order Receipt
- Order Receipt to Order Entry Complete
- Order Entry Complete to Start Manufacture
- Start Manufacture to Order Complete Manufacture
- Order Complete Manufacture to Customer Receipt of Order
- Customer Receipt of Order to Installation Complete
- Total Order Fulfillment Lead Time
If you are involved in order fulfillment in any way, you should have had an impact at least a few of these metrics. Show what you did and the effect it had on your resume. This will demonstrate your potential by showing you specific work performance.
As you review metrics and include them in your resume, you need give the reader a clear understanding of the magnitude of the impact. Going back to the NFL, a running back might talk about yards gained in a season. One running back might talk about gaining 1000 yards last season. For people unfamiliar with the NFL, this is meaningless stat. You need some context for the metric to know what it means. Adding one key piece of information, that only 16 players gained 1000 yards in the NFL last year, turns this metric into something significant.
On your resume, it is unlikely you can benchmark your performance against league stats. What you can do is benchmark yourself based on historic performance levels and the goals of the company. For example, if you work in manufacturing, you may want to highlight a fulfillment measure such as Start Manufacture to Order Complete Manufacture. You can show your performance level, perhaps three days. To make this stand out, you need to show what you did and the significance of the measure. For example:
Developed a cellular manufacturing station, a pull production system and a dedicated value stream for the highest volume product class, leading to reduced inventory and shorter manufacturing lead times, including a reduction in the Start Manufacturing to Order Complete Manufacture measure from 6 days to 3 days.
An accomplishment like this shows what the job seeker did and the tangible results they delivered. This type of bullet on a resume will help differentiate the job seeker from other manufacturing professionals. To really get the biggest impact out of this, the job seeker should put an accomplishment like this near the top of the resume. For example, the resume might start like this:
Experienced manufacturing manager with a track record of implementing process improvements and delivering cost savings.
- Lean Manufacturing: Developed a cellular manufacturing station, a pull production system and a dedicated value stream for the highest volume product class, leading to reduced inventory and shorter manufacturing lead times, including a reduction in the Start Manufacturing to Order Complete Manufacture measure from 6 days to 3 days.
This presentation will be a good attention getter. On a real resume, I would have a slightly longer summary description before the bullet and would add a couple more bullets with other accomplishments.
Take a look at the metrics used in your company and the metrics common to your industry. These can help you identify the key areas of your company that you impacted. Recognizing the areas where you have had a significant impact is the critical first step.
Newly published in 2010: Get the best book for Manufacturing Resumes
Demand forecasting is the activity in a company that predicts the level of demand customers will have for a company’s products. This activity usually garners very little attention from outside the company. For most job seekers, demand forecasting is far from their thoughts, and yet, a close look into the metrics of demand forecasting uncovers an important lesson for resume writing and interviewing.
Companies are supposed to make what customers want. The challenge is significantly greater than most realize. As we move towards the holiday season, manufacturers and retailers have established their forecasts, and products are moving through the supply chain. Lead times for many products are several months, especially if a product is a big holiday seller. Invariably, we will have a story about the “hot toy” this year that catches all the retailers off guard. They will have far less inventory than they need and manufacturers won’t be able to respond fast enough. By the time we know what is hot; it will be too late to respond by making more.
Although missing sales on one hot product can be a major mistake for a company, consistent demand forecast errors can be even more crippling. Making too much of one product is costly as the inventory sits, or worse, has to be discounted to move. Missing sales on a wide range of products by under forecasting demand will mean lost sales, and in some cases, the loss of major customers.
This was the discussion in one of the sessions I attended at the APICS conference last week. The speaker showed techniques he had used to improve demand forecasting.
Improving demand forecasting can be a significant driver of profitability for a company. Forecasting errors produce waste and lost sales. Any improvement will improve sales and reduce waste. To measure the effectiveness of a company’s demand forecasting, several key performance indicators (KPI) can be used. A few of the KPI’s mentioned were:
- MAPE – Mean Absolute Percent Error
- ONIF – On Time In Full
- SLOB – Slow Moving and Obsolete Inventory
Each of these KPI’s is critical to a business. There are lots of metrics companies can use to measure performance. KPI’s are the critical metrics that do the best job of capturing the performance of the business, and if improved, will drive overall improvement in the overall business.
For individuals in roles developing demand forecasts or contributing to the demand forecast, changes which improve the KPIs can be significant. They are the type of accomplishments that should be highlighted in a resume and discussed in an interview.
Most people, if they include accomplishments, list very general accomplishments and only focus on cost savings. Cutting costs is critical to a business’s long term success, but it is only one element of performance. Discussing other KPIs that drive performance can also make a strong impression on a resume. Discussing the accomplishments in detail, where it is clear what you have accomplished and how you did it, can help set you apart from your peers.
If you are the manager of production planning or demand forecasting, focusing on these measures makes a lot of sense. There are others in the organization who influence forecasting accuracy. The sales department needs to give quality customer forecasts to the planners, otherwise, the planners will be guessing. Marketing needs to provide the planners with their plans for major promotions. The speaker told a great story to illustrate this:
A major car company had forecasted a product mix with a lot of green cars. Manufacturing produced the cars and the new model was rolled out and shipped to dealers. The cars painted green sold below other colors, leading to high inventories. Marketing and sales quickly heard from the dealerships and responded with a large promotion to discount the green cars. Sales went through the roof and the inventory was cleaned out. At the same time, demand planners saw the increasing sales of the green car, but knew nothing of the special promotion. They responded by ramping up production to keep up with demand, flooding the supply chain with even more green cars.
This is an obvious mistake, but it is far from uncommon. Communication within companies can be challenging. If you are in sales or marketing, changing your communications with the planning department can make a significant improvement in the business and affect measures such as MAPE and OTIF. If you have implemented a change like this, you should mention it on your resume. Not only does it show an example of a contribution you have made, it shows a broader understanding of how your role can drive performance of the company.
Bottom Line: Look beyond simple cost savings and revenue generation metrics to show how you impacted the overall performance of an organization. Use the metrics that are true key performance indicators to demonstrate your performance.
Newly published in 2010: Get the best book for Manufacturing Resumes
“Going Green,” sustainability and environmentally friendly initiatives continue to gain momentum and are increasingly becoming key priorities for companies. This trend is far from universal. As with every other priority companies face, environmental factors weigh differently from company to company. This was made clear at the APICS Conference in Toronto this week.
The theme of the conference was Global Ability, and sustainability in manufacturing and supply chain roles was a key topic. I had the chance to sit in on several of the educational sessions for sustainable issues. Although many companies are grappling with how to integrate sustainability concerns into their business, several companies showed how they are delivering significant tangible results. Reducing the environmental impact of the business is not a goal at these firms. It is an absolute requirement. Even more important, these companies showed significant improvement.
As a job seeker, there are hundreds of skills, experiences and accomplishments you can discuss on your resume. Sustainability and environmental initiatives are just one category of priorities you can highlight. So, should you market yourself on the cutting edge of sustainable business practices?
Unfortunately, there is no right answer to this question. When you write a resume and market your background, you are trying to align your sales pitch to the priorities of the hiring manager. This is difficult.
There are a couple reasons you may want to highlight your experience with sustainability on your resume. First, job seekers with significant skill and experience with designing and implementing sustainable improvements should show this experience. Hiring managers wanting to improve the sustainability of an organization will value this past experience. Second, job seekers without a lot of experience with sustainability may also benefit from a focus on this area. For many companies, sustainability is still new. Showing an interest and some experience in this area will help demonstrate a closer alignment of your values and interests with those of the company. This by itself won’t get you hired, but may improve your odds.
The biggest challenge is knowing whether to emphasize your environmental experience. If you emphasize this experience, you will have to de-emphasize something else. If sustainability is only a minor concern for a hiring manager, and you decide to emphasize this over a key priority of the hiring manager, you will hurt your chances.
There is only one solution to this dilemma. You need to research the opportunity. Reading the job description is not sufficient. Many job descriptions include standard boilerplate text, listing all of the priorities of the company and the position. Most job descriptions will not be tailored to the specific situation. In fact, the same job description may be used company-wide over a period of many years. Despite this, the demands and requirements of different departments, locations and hiring managers will dictate who is hired. These priorities can vary wildly, while still falling under the broad guidelines of the position.
The research you need to do starts with the company. What are the key priorities of the company? What are they actually doing? It’s easy to write a mission statement with a bunch of goals, but what are the activities to back this up. Companies committed to sustainability as a key priority will show how they are achieving sustainable goals throughout their organization.
Other companies are just starting on the sustainable path. They may have little in the way of tangible results, but consider sustainability a key priority. Additionally, every area of a company will not have the same priorities. New initiatives have to start somewhere and spread through an organization. If the hiring manager is on the cutting edge, their priorities may be different from the company in general.
The more you can drill down on the goals specific to the role you are pursing, the better you will be able to tailor your sales pitch. One technique is to network with current and former employees. If you can find people who have experience working within the organization you are pursuing, you greatly improve your odds.
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I’m in Toronto at the annual APICS International Conference and was able to attend a session with bestselling author Jason Jennings. Jason’s presentation was excellent and included a number of insightful ideas about leadership. One statistic jumped out to me when I heard it.
The statistic Jason quoted was that in studies, 73% of workers say they just show up to work. They have no emotional attachment to their jobs.
This is an incredible stat. Out of every four workers, three aren’t engaged. They are doing their job but don’t have a true passion for their work. This doesn’t make these employees failures or valueless. They are making a contribution to their companies, but they are unconcerned about delivering superior results.
If you are seeking a job, you can expect a hiring managers to want candidates who have done more than just meet the minimum requirements. They want people who will exceed expectations and go above and beyond the norm.
When we studied resumes a year ago, we found 57% of resumes either failed to include any accomplishments or listed only one or two. The resume is the primary sales pitch that will land you an interview. Despite this, nearly 60% of job seekers are saying they have accomplished very little in their careers that is noteworthy.
Most resumes list a ton of responsibilities. They show what the job seeker should have done. Listing responsibilities does not show what you did.
Roughly 40% of the resumes we studied showed 3 or more accomplishments. Only 10% had 5 or more. For a hiring manager looking for someone truly engaged in their career, with a passion for their job and a commitment to exceed expectations no matter what, who do you think will get hired? Do you think it will be the 60% that have few or no accomplishments on their resume? Or do you think the job seeker who shows a pattern of success throughout their career will garner more attention?
The answer is obvious. Hiring managers want people who are successful and that will do more than just show up.
What You Can Do
On your resume, you need to show what you did, not what you were responsible for doing. List accomplishments throughout your resume. These can major accomplishments, recognized throughout the company, or they can be smaller accomplishments only recognized within your department. The key is showing what you did beyond what is typical.
When you interview, be prepared to talk about your commitment to succeed with specific examples of what you have achieved. In our economy, there are a lot of talented people on the job market. The people who rise to the top will be the ones who best market their ability to deliver results.
In your career, you can be one of the 73% of people who show up, or you can be someone who is engaged and committed to their job far beyond normal. If you choose the later, not only will your career be more successful, but your job search will be more successful as well.