Useless Frickin' Resume Advice

I’m sorry if this rant isn’t profane enough for the Pit, but I’m just too tired to care right now.

So, I was watching the news and they said they would have a segment on writing an effective resume, and since I’m looking for work I decided to pay close attention.

Basically the whole bit (it was a short filler bit) was you have to make your resume so that it tells your prospective employer what you can do especially for him or her.

“Instead of your skills or experience, list your accomplishments. What did you do that saved your prior employer money or time? What did you change about your job that improved productivity? How much time or money did you save, by what percentage? Be specific!”

Apparently, these people have never worked in the trenches of the real world in their lives. In every job I’ve worked there were set procedures that you followed. In mine, it was gather the invoices, check them over, and enter them, age them, and pay them. Month after month, year after year. That was it. The only way to save time was to work faster or take unpaid overtime. (Which I did when necessary.) The only way to save money was to make sure the discounts were timely met. That was just part of the job and certainly wasn’t kept track of by percentage studies. Specific percentages? I’d have to pull numbers out of my ass. Not everybody in every job keeps fucking efficiency reports on themselves. We’re too busy doing the real work.

I wasn’t in any position to change procedures. There wasn’t any point to changing them. The bosses didn’t give a shit about procedures. They just wanted the work in on time and correctly done. Which I did. For years.

Jesus, I thought I was a good employee by just showing up everyday, doing my job well, and complaining as little as possible. Now I have to be a goddamn consultant too?

Wife is in a temp job in which she taught an older employee thata good way to sort through the mail is to pull out the incoming checks first. Lady turned out to be the owner, who had never thought of this.

Not especially relevant, but sorta.

Oh, and no, those people have never fought in the trenches. Have a friend who has always been in sales and works for a company that specializes in helping a company’s laid-off employees find work. Her advice is so nonsensical to non-sales types that I had to ask whether she was paid by the former employees she helped find jobs or just the number she spoke with. Obviously it was the latter.

They gave you excellent advice. Yes, if you want to get a job these days, you need to do a bit more than just shuffle papers year after year. If an employer gets a resume from someone who looks for ways to save him money and make processes more efficient, and one from someone who just came to work every day and worked hard, which do you think the employer is going to hire?

Either you never thought of any way to make things more efficient, or the processes were already efficient and you were willing to work as a robot for years and years.

If you’re still in that job, I’d advice you to start thinking like a consultant. And keep working hard. It’s tough out there.

That’s a little harsh. Not every job is an opportunity for intellectual and personal growth, but somebody still has to do those jobs. And some people are happy to do them, not because they’re “robots”, but because work isn’t where they get their intellectual and personal growth, it’s where they get their money. :dubious:

Frankly, my experience leans more toward “God save us all from the receptionist who thinks she’s figured out a “better” way to do what we’ve told her to do.” Not that I’m against finding a better way, but maybe ASK FIRST, there might be a *reason *we do it this way, one that you can’t see with the view from your cube.

I received the same advice from various sources (besides TV and the internet). It’s not bad advice, but you can only do so much with it. Mainly there are certain aspects of my job that I push depending on the position I’m applying for and I list accomplishments where I can. “Collated, entered, and paid invoices into <system> per SOP” isn’t a bad start. What system(s) and applications do you know? What versions? Are you self-taught in anything? Have you ever trained anybody? Have you troubleshooted (troubleshot?) any of your systems or applications? Any certifications or awards? Have you ever advocated for anything (a raise?, something to make the place a little better?) Have you worked (or collaborated or “liaised” :D:rolleyes:) with other functions in your old department to meet some sort of deadline or fix some sort of problem? Did you meet your deadlines? (yes) A lot of people don’t meet their deadlines. According to your paragraph you saved money by making sure discounts were timely met. That’s good for the resume. There might be a lot of things in your work history that you’re overlooking because you take it for granted that everybody does it so what’s the big deal. A lot of the time they don’t. Comb though everything you ever did and don’t sell yourself short.

Oh look this person writes down sensitive information about their previous employment. We don’t want somebody like that. Our internal procedures and efficiency studies are confidential.

Sounds like the typical financial advice the so-called experts always provide, “Give up your daily latte…”

This is so true I can’t even say it effectively here. At most companies, they care about OI/profit/EBITDA, they care about the top line, they care about cashflow. That’s #1, 2, and 3. Next up is #4,622,336 in importance, stuff like were compliant with such and so, we filed this and that on time, etc.

If there are ANY way you can spin your resume to reflect the value to the company, using metrics if at all possible, then do it. “Saved $xx over 3 years by getting y% discounts…” or whtaever you did. Did you take any initiative to get new clients or help with customer retention? Did your work support that effort? It takes anywhere from 3-10 times as much money for a business to acquire a new client as it does to retain one, depending on what industry you’re in.

The more metrics and fact and data you can insert, the more your resume will sing. I review resumes all the time, and the ones that get attention are the ones that have actionable results, not just describing the paper shuffle.

I agree it’s really excellent advice. It’s something you can keep in mind at all times as you update your resume, because it’s so easy to lapse into just describing your responsibilities.

Some jobs are certainly better suited to being described in terms of pithy (ideally quantitative) accomplishments than others, but that’s why it’s good advice. You might find a VP of Operations whose resume says he ran operations for the whole company, but there’s a really good chance he’s already included the 30% cost reductions and 45% employee productivity increases he managed on his resume. It’s people lower down the chain who ought to be achieving measurable things but can much more easily lapse into describing their duties or responsibilities who need to remember the tip.

There’s some jobs, like DianaG said, that really don’t pose much opportunity. That doesn’t make it bad advice to run on the local news though. I also think there’s a desirable middle ground between an administrative assistant or secretary who thinks they can reinvent how I work and one who finds the idea of having accomplished something “in the real world” laughable (or pittable).

Not all employees. Most companies are perfectly happy having Filing Clerks who file things away in the proper location. They do not expect the Filing Clerks to come up with ways to improve their job, just to do it. As a matter of fact, they hate “creative” Filing Clerks, who instead of filing things according to the laid-out procedure, file every (Whatever) Bros. under B for Bros, or every (Whatever) GmbH under G for GmbH, or who change where they file things every time a new pile of documents comes in (real examples taken from several hundred real-world rants).

Not everybody is a manager or a creative, not everybody is expected to be one.

And even jobs that DO require creativity and ingenuity don’t always have the kind of results that you can put on your resume under “accomplishments”. I’m an executive assistant. I solve problems all day, every day, and that’s after having done everything humanly possible to prevent foreseeable problems. Believe me, it’s not a job that can be done by a robot, and there are certainly examples I can give of how I’ve implemented systems that improved productivity or saved money. But still, the job is mostly behind-the-scenes firefighting, the nature of it is that when everything goes well my boss looks good, and when anything goes wrong, I take the fall. So when an interviewer asks me “can you tell me some of your accomplishments”, I just think “You have no idea what I do for a living, do you?” I mean, what am I supposed to say? “Well, when I started with my boss he was your garden-variety middle-manager, and when I left he was a partner. Try doing that with an inadequate assistant.”

You can’t mention even one example of the behind-the-scenes firefighting you do on a daily basis that would make you look competent and proactive to a potential employer? I can see it not fitting in a resume but I mean in the interview you brought up.

Besides all of this misses the point. Why is it bad advice if it applies to most jobs but not yours? Two Many Cats hated the advice and thinks it’s clear anyone ‘in the trenches’ doesn’t actually try to accomplish anything. In my experience, most people ‘in the trenches’ would be very surprised to learn that trying to save money, make more money, increase productivity or otherwise do anything measurable at work is “being a consultant”.

I meant (and I can see why it would be unclear) someone who asks me that AFTER I’ve provided examples of that sort of thing. Someone who is looking for an answer like “Well, we implemented this online ordering system and sales increased 23% and customer satisfaction increased 37%!”. Um… my job isn’t like that. The “result” produced by a good executive assistant is mostly a happy and productive executive, and the “results” that generates go on his resume, not mine. I’m actually lucky in that I did a fair amount of project management for the department and buzzwordy things that make employers happy, but lots of EAs don’t do that stuff.

And I didn’t say it was bad advice, I just said it’s not always relevant.

Take what you can use and disregard the rest. You may have done some small things that actually did improve productivity - did you start filing invoices that needed to be paid alphabetically so you could find them easily? Did you use a calendar system so you didn’t miss discounts or let invoices go too long? Did you create any kind of checking system for the invoices so you made sure you received what you paid for? I’ve worked AP before, and there aren’t many world-shaking things going on, sure, but there are a few things you can do here and there that your next employer would like to hear about - even if you didn’t create the systems, you can talk about how you used them and what the results were.

Basically, try to think like somebody looking to hire an accounts payable clerk - what are they looking for in you?

The one with the biggest tits.

badum dump.

Thank you, I’m here all week. Tip your waitress!

The processes were fine as they were. Occasionally, there were management type nitwits who after having me explain everything to them (again!), made some little niggling change to prove they were doing their job. The changes made things a little different, not better, just different.

“Look! Now there’s a shortcut icon to that page!” they’d say.

Oooooh! Thanks pal! Those two extra keystrokes were really a chore to deal with! Now would you get your ass out of my fucking chair so I can get back to work?

We robots can get so touchy.

I guess it was that mindless paper shuffling that got me “Employee of the Year” twice.

And yes, that’s on the resume.

Sounds like you brainstormed ways to improve efficiency of operations with co-workers and supervisors.

Also like you (reluctantly and with a great deal of bitterness) instituted the changes these brain storming sessions came up with that were designed to improve efficiency.

I have some impressive accomplishments which I can’t prove. No paper trail, you know? Heck, I’ve had impressive accomplishments which I could prove (there was a Forbes article about them) but which people didn’t believe, finding them too impressive to be believable. I have to tone them down, not up; people still think my resume is inflated (I’ve stunned several HR people at different companies when they said that “everybody lies in their resume” and I said I don’t - “you mean you really have…?” “yes” “and this…?” “yes” “Oh :eek: my :eek: God!”) but now they see it as “inflated to normal levels.”

“Tweak your resume to put yourself in the best possible light and spotlight your strengths, quantifying your results if possible” is one thing. But “list your accomplishments, with numbers” isn’t always possible - or always good advice.

If a truly superior executive assistant is doing her job no one notices because everything goes like clockwork. It’s only when the shit hits the fan that her efforts are noticed. EA’s are like plumbing - ignored until they stop working. The accomplishments go on the boss’s resume.

Although I do have that one year I reduced shipping by 40% on my resume… but then, like Nava, I get accused of exaggerating. No, I do not exaggerate. That was why I got a 10% raise on my next performance review.