Government Resume Gets Hotwired

This Ladders member is used to working literally under the gun in some of the world’s hottest combat zones. But how could he aim the bullet points in his resume so corporate employers would take notice?


One Ladders member has hotwired jeeps in the middle of a hot war zone, stared down rebel chieftains who threatened to make trouble for his organization’s operation, and served as a general troubleshooter at sites in developing countries across the world.

Because of the sensitivity of his position and the nature of his business, “Angus Jones” did not want to reveal publicly his real name or his employer. Suffice to say that Jones holds a senior position in a federal agency, and he has had to be a combination of Angus MacGyver and Indiana Jones throughout his career.

Indeed, Jones joked with Tina Brasher (the resume writer who works with Ladders and overhauled his resume) about whether he could be described as “MacGyver” in her rewrite. She quipped that if he really were MacGyver, he would write his own resume on tree bark using berry juice as ink.

“His is not a typical corporate-type resume,” Brasher said. “He was trying to get across that he was a troubleshooter in difficult environments, but he was having trouble getting his point across so that corporate decision makers could understand his true value.”

“I am really looking for a senior position with a company that wants to start up operations in the Third World,” Jones said. Explaining further, Jones said he would like to be involved in “sort of a ‘go forth and be fruitful’ venture into high-potential but high-risk countries.”

Jones is looking for a position as vice president for international business development in a major corporation. His experience in going into hot zones and opening U.S. facilities or re-opening facilities that had been closed due to violence or political instability would fit well for companies working in high-risk areas of Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East or Eastern Europe, he said. He already has done work in locales in many of those areas, he said.

But with sensitive operations, how could he get that across?

“At first I was concerned because my background is not like that of most corporate America execs,” Jones said. “I felt it was going to be hard to translate my experience into bullets that would have some relevance to corporate hirers. Moreover, I really have not seen much in job listings — on Ladders included — that really match with what I’m aiming at.”

Jones has had more than 10 years’ experience directing global operations for his organization and managing international development in trouble spots.

“His track record shows that this fellow can go into troubled operations in a dangerous country and fix things,” Brasher said. “He’s such a unique talent. He can help companies get their business started in other countries, and he can also help if they’re having problems. Like MacGyver, he can solve problems with whatever material he has on hand. And like Indiana Jones, he can get out of sticky situations.”

Jones said he believes one of his key strengths is “the ability to go into foreign countries with different cultures and languages, at times in high-security risk areas, and get jobs done.” And a big part of that is his capacity to “convince people to give me information that provided me with considerable insight into what was happening and the ability to act quickly to change events.”

Getting to the bottom line

Brasher said she had to do a second draft of Jones’ resume to get it just right.

Jones agreed. “I think the most important ingredient in the process was that Tina, as my assigned writer, really cared about doing the best job possible for me,” he said. “It took a long talk on the phone I think for her to get a better understanding of where I had been and where I hoped to go. Conversely, Tina spent a long while getting me to understand that maybe what I felt were important issues in my background were maybe not what was needed to grab the attention of both the computer-sorting mechanism as well as recruiters and hirers.

“Tina earned my respect, both for the personal interest she took in my personal interests as well as for her pragmatism in making the resume a document that would stand some chance of success.”

In conducting his business, Jones has had to deal with CEOs, barter with feuding tribal and rebel leaders, and even strike deals with local street vendors to gain accommodation for his operations. And these moves helped save not only money but also lives. Brasher decided to showcase his feats in dollars and cents, even though they were conducted on behalf of a nonprofit organization within the federal government. The bottom line: Jones‘ results actually translated into huge savings.

His original resume “was more of a job description resume that said, ‘This is what I’m responsible for,” but not detailing what his accomplishments were,” Brasher said. To get to the kind of position he is seeking, Brasher helped Jones explain exactly what he is capable of delivering to an organization.

“My strategy was to show how the success of his operations could work in the context of a business,” Brasher said. “If I were a business owner or CEO, I’d snap him up in a New York second.”