How to Position Yourself Favorably
In any career transition, whether returning after maternity leave, or transitioning from an administrative role to a management position, positioning is crucial. Your resume must demonstrate that you have what the position needs, and that you will provide the employer with a good return on his or her investment. A few simple steps will work wonders in positioning you as a suitable candidate. Let's work with an Office Manager who is heading back to work after a few years off.
Give Yourself a Headline
Since you've done this job before, you can certainly assign yourself a headline. Recruiters have actually asked for such a headline at the top of the resume (in place of that passé Objective Statement). This way they are assured, in case there are several openings, that your resume is in the right pile. A headline also works in your favour as a subliminal message that you are indeed an Office Manager. And why not take it a step further? Spell out what you have contributed in the past with a tag-line. In this case, our mom proves in her resume's content that she contributed to operational excellence and that her performance, and that of her staff, was “top notch. "
Not convinced that you should delete your Objective Statement in favour of the headline? Here are two more reasons: the objective statement is all about you, whereas the entire resume must be all about how your skills, education and experience can benefit the employer, and the headline is easy to scan in a milli-second, whereas the objective statement takes far longer to read (and is quite boring), and almost never contains the actual position title. Do yourself a favour: delete that objective statement and give yourself a headline.
It's All in the Details
Make sure that you convey your hard skills. These are the tangible skills that you developed before leaving the workforce, and can also include any new skills gained through schooling or volunteer work. Here is a listing that our Office Manager might use:
- Administrative functions
- Staff recruitment
- Committee administration
- Conference planning
- Staff training
- Training administration
- Corporate liaison
- Staff management
- Branch office management
- Setting priorities
- Correspondence management
Technical Competencies: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint); Email and Internet; Blackberry
It's All About Strategy
Rather than jumping right into the work history, why not further establish your credibility as an Office Manager? Our candidate developed a section full of great accomplishments, titled Indicators of Effectiveness and Initiative, that clearly spells out her usefulness. This section could be titled many ways, for example, Accomplishments of Note, Key Initiatives, Top 10 Accomplishments-use your imagination, be authentic to who you are and to your experience. Catch the recruiter's attention and sell yourself as a truly qualified candidate.
Indicators of Effectiveness and Initiative
- Named “Sales Assistant of the Year" at the Toronto branch-ABC Company.
- Held successful roles including Branch Administrator and Executive Assistant to President.
- Planned and organized bi-annual corporate conference, executed flawlessly for 150 participants.
- Administered schedule of vacation, maternity, and other leaves, for office staff of 14.
- Delivered “Effective Utilization of the Sales Assistant" presentation to 200 financial consultants.
- Earned all and substantial quarterly bonuses and annual increases-ABC Company.
- Volunteer as Board Member, Small Town Skating Club, contributing to annual events and fundraising.
- Volunteer at children's school, with reading program, and as organizer of Grade 8 graduation.
Another key to strategy is using an accomplishment based resume. This is a topic unto its own, and there is plenty of information available on this topic. Take the time to research developing accomplishment statements; it is crucial. (See the No Job Jitters articles “Write Your Resume without Bragging or Boring, " “Keep an Accomplishment Journal, " and “Are You a Generic or Brand Name?" for more insight into positioning yourself with strategy. )
Develop Your Character
Most resumes are devoid of character. In fact, most could be used by any number of like-employed people, indiscriminately. That type of resume doesn't work as it portrays you as a generic, unremarkable candidate with no character. You can develop your character in a number of ways, including using an accomplishment based resume, and here's another idea: why not include a quote from yourself? Make it a sort of “philosophy of work" or “when I am at my best. " Our Office Manager developed a statement that addressed the main areas of responsibility. The employer got a real sense of her, of her work ethic, of what he or she could expect from her, and couldn't wait to meet this candidate!
"I am most effective in overseeing the interconnection of the many facets of an office:
- managing staff and dealing with the day-to-day conflicts and circumstances;
- administering office output and reassigning and juggling tasks as priorities demand;
- and I truly excel in project managing events-from the cyclical committee meetings to complex, off-site conventions.
I thrive on ensuring that every tiny detail is attended to, checked off, and double-checked; the events I arrange are executed flawlessly. "
Finally, use your cover letter to truly convey a sense of who you are and why you should be interviewed. Research the company to gain a little insight into the employee culture, the mission statement and vision-whatever is available. And then insert some reference to what compelled you to apply. Perhaps because the company's vision of customer service matches yours, or its corporate responsibility resonates with your own life. As proof, add a story about your customer service skills ("My co-workers always call me when facing a difficult customer as they know that I will calm that customer down and find a win-win solution. "), or about your own sense of responsibility ("It was heartening to see that ABC Company supports our local food bank; I have volunteered for the food bank in the past and know how essential it is for our community's well-being. ")
Here's how our Office Manager wrapped up her package with a great cover letter:
" To be a successful Office Manager requires the agility to move between roles that address people and processes. Experience has shown that I have a natural ability to listen to people and address their concerns, to improve processes, and to project manage events. Noting that my experience and skills closely match your needs, I have enclosed my resume for the position of (insert position).
At my most recent position, as Executive Assistant to the President of an ultra-demanding Toronto brokerage firm, my value was recognized with a regular and substantial bonus, by accommodating, at the President's request, a part-time work schedule while on mat leave, and with recognition for flawlessly executed company conferences. After my permanent departure (due to the long commute between Small Town and Toronto), the President admitted that I had established a precedent of excellence, and he had some difficulties finding a suitable replacement.
I bring your attention to these details, only in an effort to convey the quality of work that you can expect from me. I am at my best when I must juggle several projects, when attention to detail is paramount, and when a hard-working, but pleasant office environment is expected.
Ending an extended leave, during which time I have immersed myself in my youngsters’ lives, I certainly have not been idle! A high-energy person, I volunteer as a member of the Small Town Public School Council, and of the Small Town Skating Club Board. On my initiative I organized the first “gala" Grade 8 graduation, a tasteful, but special event, which I negotiated, planned, decorated and organized. And as a member of a team of four organizers, the Skating Club held its first ever fundraiser, that raised $6K in one evening. I also contribute to the Club's annual recitals, an event that requires costume sourcing and fittings, program printing, coordinating rehearsal night-for an event that sees up to 700 attendees.
Ready to return to full time employment, I would love to present my strengths, abilities to communicate, and more examples of planning, organizing, and managing office staff activities, as well as small and large events. I am available for an interview, and invite your call to arrange a suitable time. Thank you for the consideration. "
Although she didn't have a company in mind, her character and value certainly shine through.
Here's a final thought: don't allow perceived obstacles to stop you from making every effort to position yourself for success. Resumes and cover letters are an investment in your future earnings and workplace happiness. Don't skimp on the effort you put into these two vital self-marketing documents.
Copyright©2008 New Leaf Resumes. Feel free to reprint this article, but please provide the author with full credit, and include the preceding paragraph.
Stephanie Clark, BA, CRS, CIS, http://www.newleafresumes.ca An Award-winning and published Resume Strategist, dedicated to advancing your career goals. Please visit my website for more information on the services offered at New Leaf Resumes.