Think of your resume as a well-aimed sales tool. It should begin
with a specific objective and include a Summary of your experience,
education and credentials to illustrate how you will successfully
accomplish the job. It should list your experience in prioritized
order and clearly follow the job description of the open position.
A company, in search of a quality control
manager, for example, will expect to see your background in quality
control as the first listing on your resume. If that means using a
functional resume to bring older experiences to the forefront, do
it. And while writing three resumes is a good start, you should be
able to adapt every resume you send (thanks to personal computers)
to the company that receives it.
Your cover letters can also capture employer
attention by including three key ingredients:
State specifically why you are interested in the particular
company. Mention their prominence in the field, their need for
quality control experts and that your friend Bob Brown in
engineering suggested that you write.
Explain why they should meet with you. Write that you have 15
years of experience in manufacturing control and testing and that
you have successfully implemented the program that they are about to
Then make clear that you will follow up with a call to
schedule an appointment to discuss potential employment.
If a networking contact doesn't have a specific
name for you or if an ad is devoid of a name, call the company to
find out who is in charge of the area where you're applying. Then
address your letter to that person. Even if it eventually makes its
way to human resources, the person who does the hiring will have
seen it and may remember you later on.
Once resumes and broadcast letters are out of
the way, concentrate on developing personal contacts. Managers want
to hire people with whom they are comfortable, particularly at the
senior executive level. That's why you must follow up every resume
with a phone call. Face-to-face discussion can never be replaced by
a piece of paper.
When phoning, be prepared to briefly reiterate
your interest and qualifications for the job and your desire to
schedule an appointment. Most managers will grant you a meeting
following such a call even if you aren't a perfect fit. If they like
you, they may offer you the position, create an opening or refer you
to someone else who can use your service or offer guidance.
As you follow up on resumes sent, increase your
networking efforts with friends, relatives and business associates.
They may know of unadvertised openings and can help you extend your
contacts beyond people you already know personally or
professionally. Don't be afraid to go one step further by contacting
acquaintances within professional organizations, your church,
fraternal and civic groups, hobby clubs, fellow volunteers, the
instructor and fellow students in a continuing education course, and
even those people you read about in the library.
Ask for 30-minute appointments with each
contact and make sure to discuss your mutual interests from the very
start. If you're a generalist, emphasize your combination of talent
and expertise. If the contact is unwilling to meet, ask for names of
other people who may be helpful. Once a meeting is scheduled, create
a proposal to bring along that outlines how you can help the
In your specific case, it may be wise to speak
with a few recruiting firms that specialize in manufacturing. Use a
directory of recruiters, such as the ones published by Consultants
News (Templeton Road, Fitzwilliam, N.H. 03447) and the Association
of Executive Search Consultants (17 Sherwood Place, Greenwich, Conn.
06830), to identify the best prospects. Your experience will likely
coincide with one of their searches.
One trap you should avoid-which often plagues
long-term job hunters-is lowering your sights because employment has
been hard to find. While it's true that director of manufacturing
positions are relatively scarce, opportunities below that level may
be both counterproductive and more difficult to la. Most companies
are afraid to hire people for jobs below their capabilities. If
you've been hearing, "We want someone with five to seven years of
experience for his position. You're tremendously overqualified,''
it's a sure sign that you need to aim higher.
Working your way up the ladder from assembler
to manufacturing director required real initiative and strong
communications skills. Use them now to find a management position
that closely matches your abilities and background.