One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Scott Hammac left his job as the general manager at a manufacturing company in 2006 to start his own business.
He founded Hammac Manufacturing in Oswego, Ill., a small sheet-metal fabricator that built parts for everything from computer chassis to precision tools and welded tubes.
Hammac, who lives in nearby Joliet, Ill., this year decided to return to the corporate world. He was confident he could leverage his engineering background, his years of experience as a project manager and procurement manager, and his record running a successful business into project or process management jobs.
Instead, he found it difficult to explain his varied background and hard to translate his experience as a business owner (he used the title director of operations of Hammac Manufacturing) to positions in a corporate hierarchy. His resume received not even a nibble.
“As a person wanting to advance his career as a manager or director, one of your objectives is to recognize problems, analyze and solve,” Hammac said. His analysis led him to conclude that his resume wasn’t making it past the automated applicant tracking systems used by most corporations, let alone the human readers in HR departments.
Most of his problems translating his experience could be remedied by rewriting his resume, said Ken Moore, a certified professional resume writer who works with TheLadders and helped Hammac craft a new resume.
Explaining your own business
Hammac had trouble explaining his experience as a business owner in a way that translated to a position inside a company, a common problem for many entrepreneurs who try to return to the workforce.
“(We) put a different flavor to it so that it didn’t appear that he was a full-time business owner,” said Moore, “and he would be more readily accepted by a corporate department or group.”
For instance, in his original resume, Hammac wrote:
“Began a dream of owning and running my own fabrication company with the knowledge, skills and abilities from past experiences. Developed a business plan, implemented and altered accordingly based on daily business obstacles and challenges.” But Moore did away with all of that and focused on Hammac’s accomplishments with a bulleted list.
The next major issue for Hammac was trying to join his experience as an engineer, project manager and procurement manager in a way that would land him a job as director of project management, procurement management or engineering management, or some combination of these roles.
Moore focused on what he called “unification and summarization.” For instance, Hammac had worked more than 12 years for a company that had undergone a name change, and he had simultaneously changed roles. The result: His resume made it look like Hammac had worked for two different companies. Moore combined the roles and responsibilities under one entry on the new resume. Instead of being a “design engineer at Ready Access Inc.” and a “project manager at Ready Metal Corp.” – Moore listed Hammac as a “Design Engineer/Project Manager” at “Ready Access Incorporated (formerly Ready Metal Corp.).”
The result was a document that translated his experiences in a way that tells recruiters and hiring managers what jobs Hammac can do at their companies. It also gave him a resume that gave his “past career positions a feeling of accomplishment.,” he said.
“You know you did the work; you know you made things better for other organizations,” he said. “But the choices of wording to describe this and yourself are night and day in comparison.”
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