Former White House Communications Manager Gets Help with His Message

Steve Derr knows how to keep secrets. But when he wanted to broadcast his skills, he looked to Ladders’ resume service.


Steve Derr’s high-level security clearances with the government mean he can be counted on to keep top secrets. When it comes to his personal brand, however, he’s all about communicating.

That’s what prompted the TechnologyLadder member to purchase a resume rewrite from Ladders. Currently employed as a senior vice president of engineering in the government subsidiary of a leading communications company, Derr is not actively looking for a new position. Nevertheless, in these uncertain economic times, he thought it prudent to update his resume.

Derr is interested in a position similar to the one he currently holds: a role in senior federal-sector technology leadership, such as vice president of federal sales or chief technology officer. Derr has held positions that have effectively combined both functions. Among his career highlights: While employed by the U.S. government, Derr served as communications manager for the White House.

J.M. Auron, the resume writer who reworked Derr’s resume for Ladders, said he was immediately impressed with Derr as both a job candidate and as a person.

“He is extremely highly cleared, working in the federal-contracting space,” Auron said. “Looking at what he sent me, I could tell he was an A player. You could tell he had accomplished a lot. His resume was long.”

Military precision

Derr spent nearly a decade in the Air Force, where he honed his communications skills and expertise in all manner of telecommunications and networking technology. Auron said generally he likes working with ex-military job seekers because they are typically comprehensive in providing information.

“They are great but not always concise,” Auron said of his military clients.

However, experience with process and protocol has its advantages. Derr delved into the worksheet Auron provided and gave him a detailed view of his career history.

Collaboration pays off

“You get out of it, what you put into it,” Derr said. “The resume worksheet that you fill out must be as complete and accurate as possible, with enough detail for the writer to work with.

“In addition, a phone call to discuss the resume worksheet verbally with the writer is also a must. They don’t know you so you have to educate them about yourself in order for them to do their very best in writing your resume.”

Auron elaborated, “His worksheet was so detailed that it took me a long time to work through it; he gave me every possible detail I would need.”

But work through it he did. And Auron was able to lop one page off of Derr’s original resume. He eliminated long “Career Summary” and “Qualifications Summary” segments of Derr’s original resume.

Specifically, Auron said, he cut out details describing Derr’s technical expertise and accomplishments and instead focused on the ways Derr’s efforts had helped his employer’s bottom line. “I had to downplay the technology and upsell how he impacted sales,” Auron said. “Everywhere he has been, he has solved problems and brought in business. I had to play that up.”

Auron added characteristics such as product business plans, strategic planning, team leadership/motivation, competitive analysis, needs assessment, presentations, product launch, sales forecasting, and budget planning/forecasting to a list of areas of expertise that also highlighted Derr’s technological skills.

Moreover, with Auron’s help, the three introductory sections, the objective, career summary and qualifications summary, were condensed into:

“Driven…professional with two decades of combined commercial and military experience in all aspects of Federal sector communications business development, including DoD, Civilian, and Intel, with a history of rapid promotion to positions of increasing responsibility. Dynamic problem solver, able to organize information, and develop and execute effective strategic and tactical plans. Motivational leader who consistently transforms organizations into world-class teams. Expert communicator, able to work effectively with senior management and technical stakeholders.”

“He is extremely cooperative, which is typical of former military people,” Auron said. He’s extremely loyal, as he’s been with the same organization for nine years. If I was still recruiting in that space I’d be marketing this guy in a minute.” And in addition to that, with his history prospective employers can count on Derr to keep their vital information close to the vest.