Posted on May 14, 2011.
by Sarah L. Warner, Sarah L. Warner Associates
To be future ready start by thinking about what you have accomplished at each of your positions. The resume’s central section is the essential section to express your responsibilities in the form of Accomplishments. More and more clients are looking for accomplishments, not simply a listing of the tasks (job description) that you were responsible during the tenure in each position. For example: Task – Involved with a variety of software projects across the department. Accomplishment – Selected to participate on a team with the rollout of LegalKey Attorney Desktop, which enabled end-users to request files. Task – Handle all research questions and daily new items for the organization. Accomplishment – Created and disseminated specialized daily news digest to targeted groups throughout the company using Microsoft SharePoint, drawing from newspapers, journals, website, newsletters, reports, wire services and blogs.
How feasible is this focus change for you?
All resumes should include all the following basic information: name, address, home telephone and or mobile phone (not your office phone or email), personal email, your objective along with your summary of skills. Beginning with an Objective, do make sure that it is focused on the job you are applying for. For example, if you are focusing your career shift search to academic law libraries and the job you are applying for is for a law firm library in a private law firm, be sure to update the Objective. Some recruiters recommend a Brief Statement of key experiences and strengths in lieu of Objective.
The next section to focus on is Work History – Skills, areas of expertise, and specific accomplishments. Your resume is about you. It is about what you have learned, accomplished, and created. Then put this all in light of the client’s position that you are applying for each time you apply for a new position. If your Skill Section is so overwhelming, it is best included after the Work History, with your databases and software Microsoft Office etc. Following the Work History is Education, Training, and Certificates. Dates of completion are not required unless degrees completed within the last 5 years. The final section includes information on Awards, Professional Memberships, and Volunteer Work if relevant to the position applying. Awards related to the position you are applying for are particularly important to include.Tell the best truth about yourself on your resume; do not be misleading about your skills, job history, dates on job history, education, or compensation. The prospective employer will verify these.
The Work History is the essential section to express your responsibilities and accomplishments along with inclusive dates. Relevant work experience is critically important in the selection process. Candidates who are career changes or someone with other work experience may want to break the Work History into two sections Library Experience and Other Relevant Experience. This will assist the review in determining the exact extent of your experience. Library experience should be described in more detail. Clients want to have an understanding of your work timeline and in particular what experience you have that is of utmost relevance to their requirements. Remember it is not simply a listing of your jobs with description of your tasks. Did you save your current company X amount of dollars or did you build a successful reference service intake system that saved the reference librarian’s time and allowed time for research analysis?
The current thinking is to include positions held only for the last ten years unless an earlier position includes key germane accomplishments that are most relevant to position being applied for. When you are responding to a specific opportunity, it is strongly suggested that you highlight your experience in that area that addresses what the client’s priorities match your own achievements. For example, you are applying for a position that includes training experience using a specific software program and as part of your current or last position you had you taught and were awarded for your knowledge of the tools, be sure to move your point to a strategic point in the position’s list. If you achieved a particular skill in an early position than consider noting it for inclusion in the cover letter.
A point that is often questioned by hiring clients but also applicants is just how to address the short-term positions. In all cases, clients and recruiters expect to see the exact dates of the assignment. It is appropriate to indicate it is an “internship” or “contract.” In this challenging job market you may have gaps on your resume due to being out of work or taking temporary jobs that are not part of your career path; you can explain it as such. If you are working with a recruiter, be sure to be forthcoming with explanations about gaps. All in all keep your resume in a bullet format is preferred in one to two pages maximum unless you are applying for an academic position and a curriculum vita can be more appropriate. Be sure to proof read multi-times. Remember one typo could send your resume to the trash.
One note on References is that it is not recommended to include them as part of your resume. Rather write at the bottom of your document “References available upon request.” References do not want to be caught off guard by receiving an unexpected phone call or email requesting information about you. It is preferable for you always to prep a reference about the position you have applied for and why you have applied for the position.
In the end you want to have made it clear to the reader of your resume, whether it is an in-house recruiter, hiring manager, or search committee member, that you have read and understand the skills and experience they are seeking for the successful candidate.
An additional way you can convey why you are qualified to be the successful candidate for the position is with the Cover Letter. The purpose of the cover letter is to invite the reader to look directly at your resume and also next insure an invitation for an interview. If you have not done your homework on the company that you are interested already, it is a must. You may find this law firm has a specialty that is one of your particular research focuses.
The Cover Letter should be well written, well organized, and customized (Yes, customized) for the position you are seeking. Always use the addressee’s name in the salutations. Research the right contact and get the facts straight, addressee’s title and the job title. (Sometimes searching LinkedIn is a good tool.) If you can’t successfully find the first name of the contact, it would be appropriate to put the initial and last name R. Jones. The Cover Letter is a way you can introduce yourself and convey your personality, impress a reader with your achievements, and your writing skills. If no name using Hiring Manager or Recruiter is appropriate. The cover letter is a vehicle for you to tailor a document to a specific company more than you can with a resume. The letter should not be over 3 to 4 paragraphs. There should be plenty of white space left on the page.
The opening paragraph should state your intentions, what positions you are applying for, and how you learned of the opening. If you have been fortunately to have been referred by someone, be sure to include the person’s name – maybe it is a colleague in the same company. The following paragraphs should address the position as it pertains to your background. Call attention to those elements of your resume that you would like the employer to notice first that most clearly relate to what the client is looking for in the successful candidate. It should have supporting evidence that there is an appropriate match between you and the employer. Talk about both skills and experience. Highlight your merits. Include special contributions or achievements that are applicable. Convey enthusiasm – What can you do for them. Show them how you can be an asset. This is NOT the time to be thinking about salary, or anything else about what they can do for you. It is what you can do for them. The final paragraph should include a gracious thank you for the employer’s time and consideration, and indicate your availability for interviews. There is information in the cover letter that is not included anyplace else. The letter can end with “Thank you for your time and consideration” or “Best regards.” It can be helpful to add your email address after your name.
A bonus method to stand head and shoulders above the other candidates is to have a carefully crafted Resume Portfolio. If you are a recent library school graduate, this application is ideal for inclusion to set yourself aside from other graduates. By definition a Resume Portfolio is a well-prepared portfolio providing additional “evidence” to an employer of your accomplishments, skills, abilities and it documents the scope and quality of your experience and training. It is an organized collection of documentation that presents both your personal and professional achievements in a concrete way. Effective sample portfolios can range from an online version of your resume to a web site full of your created material. A portfolio can include writing samples, custom research or analysis. What is fundamental is that what you are presenting is applicable to the position you are applying for or to client discussion.
When all is said and done the person who’s most talented, has the most relevant skill set, and has proven to be most valuable to his or her former employees achieves the new position.
Sarah L Warner and Associates LLC offers distinctive services for direct-hire and executive search in the areas of the information professional that incorporates Records Managers, Research Directors, Senior Legal Researchers, Digital Image Manager, and Account Manager. Sarah L Warner and Associates LLC’s proven techniques of sourcing candidates allow us to represent talent not found on job boards. We introduce you to custom recruited candidates so you see exceptional candidates for direct hire.
Sarah has over ten years of experience directing recruitment services with personal care and expertise previously at Wontawk, a leader in recruitment, and over twenty years of experience in entrepreneurial, corporate, and non-profit settings, developing and providing a full spectrum of library & information services, including management, staff recruiting, and research. Sarah is a long-time active member of SLA with a Masters in Library and Information Science is from Pratt Institute. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org