I reviewed a resume from a production supervisor today with an introduction that immediately caught my attention. When I was a recruiter, I worked on a few positions where this job seeker would have been like gold. Despite this, the writing of the introduction was actually horrible, even though it was extremely effective.
It may seem odd that the intro section was both horrible and effective. The goal of a resume, after all, is to land an interview. You aren’t trying to create a Pulitzer Prize winning document. Despite this, job seekers should try to make their resume easy to read, clear, concise and well thought out, and this resume did not meet these goals.
There is one reason why this resume was effective. It led off with a skill set that is typically in demand. The skill set the job seeker led off was bilingual production supervision. In many parts of the country, finding experienced production supervisors and managers who are fluent in both English and Spanish is difficult. I’ve been in production facilities where more than 90% of the work force speaks Spanish as their first language. In fact, early in my career, I spent a year managing a production team with recent immigrants who could barely speak English. They were extremely hard working and productive, but I struggled to communicate effectively with them. I learned how important it is to have bilingual supervisors in a production facility. Later, as a recruiter, I again saw this importance from my clients who needed to hire bilingual supervisors.
A strong bilingual manufacturing professional can be difficult to find. For this reason, some recruiters will be ready to pick up the phone to call this candidate as soon they read the first line of the resume. Because of this, the job seeker produced an effective resume. Unfortunately, the job seeker misses an opportunity to write a resume that will be effective in other situations.
Most manufacturing facilities do not require a bilingual candidate. If a hiring manager is looking for a strong supervisor, they are going to focus on the leadership skills, experience and accomplishments of the candidate. This is where the resume fails. After the first line, the job seeker has a very long paragraph listing a large number of skills… a total of 27 skills over the next fifteen lines. Most of the skills are the standard run of the mill type, for example, communications skills, experience with Word and Excel, leadership, problem solving and cost reduction initiative. This will do little to impression a hiring manager. Anyone can put these phrases on their resume, and doing so doesn’t make a candidate better than another candidate. You need to have more substance.
A much better approach would be to lead with one or two short sentences, highlighting the most valuable skills and then listing a few accomplishments demonstrating the experience with the skills. The skills that should be listed first are the ones that are most in demand. For this candidate, bilingual and 15 years of production supervision should be right at the start. Buried in the resume, this candidate discussed how he was a part of Six Sigma project saving $250k annually in scrap reduction, and how the candidate was close to receiving his Black Belt. This is another significant experience that should be at the top of the resume, not buried at bottom of the first page.
The key is to emphasize a few skills and accomplishments that will motivate a hiring manager to pick up the phone and call you. You may have one skill, like being bilingual, that will help in a lot of situation, but you should have more than that. A one trick pony will be excluded from most positions that don’t require that one skill. Pick the three or four most significant skills in your background (and that are in demand) and sell those at the top of your resume. Then, move the list of every skill under the sun to the bottom of your resume. This can serve as a good keyword list so your resume shows up when hiring managers do database searches.
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