I am seeking a job as an Accounting/Operations Manager. Half of my
experience (aside from education) comes from running a family-owned
(i.e., my husband is the President) business. I've been meeting with
recruiters and submitting my résumé for consideration online for
certain opportunities, without much luck. Could working for a family
business affect my ability to get a job? How do I overcome this
challenge? - Elena
Dear Elena: Absolutely,
often presenting experience with a family business is immediately
discredited as it is assumed you did not have to do too much to get the
job nor keep it. It is so unfortunate that this can be the assumption,
or that other inaccurate assumptions are made, because having worked
for a family-owned business?growing up?and now as a business owner
myself, I know how hard you must have worked and the value you gained
in being given the opportunity to wear multiple hats during your tenure.
overcome this, you need to present your experience in the same way as
you would any other professional experience. If it is difficult to hide
the fact that this is a family business (i.e., if the business has your
last name in it), then I would pull out highlights of your career and
place them in their own section before presenting the employer’s name,
your title, and the remainder of your professional experience section.
If the company name will not immediately be seen as a family business,
then you could present a more traditional reverse-chronological résumé.
The point would be not to showcase that you worked for a family
business, so as to avoid the reader discounting the experience.
mentioned presenting this experience in the same manner as any other
professional position, as I see a lot of résumés from candidates who
really dilute their experience which occurred in a family business.
Another fault I see often is candidates who try to communicate too much
about the diversity of their experiences, positioning themselves as a
jack of all trades and a master of none. Just be careful to present
select aspects of your background (i.e., those operations- and
accounting-related) that are going to market you well for your current
career objective. Best of luck to you!
I read your column every week and need some assistance. I have had to
leave a position involuntarily and I am not sure how to handle this in
my résumé as well as the interview. I have 30+ years of professional
experience, so you can imagine that this came as a shock. I am a
self-starter, motivated to do a good job, and educated. Everyone who
knows me is in shock. So, I am on a new path for a career change and
looking faithfully every day for a new opportunity! I need some
suggestions on how to handle this. – LK
I'm sorry to hear that you were let go from your position. As you
haven't had to look for a job in some time, I am sure this is a
difficult situation. Let's first address the résumé. There is no reason
to include the reason for leaving a position on a résumé, so really
that is not a concern. You can, however, utilize certain strategies
within your résumé to curb some of the negativity hiring managers may
feel when they hear that you were let go involuntarily.
have 30+ years of experience, I am assuming that you had many good
performance evaluations. If so, pull out quotes from some of them to
include at the top of your résumé. This will be great reinforcement
when you tell the hiring manager that your separation came as a shock.
If you don't have access to these, try to have a former peer or
supervisor write a recommendation letter from which you can pull out
quotes and also present at the interview. If you still have a good
relationship with your former manager, you could also ask for a letter
from him/her attesting to your performance, only if you feel doing so
would result in a positive reference.
Additionally, be sure that
you focus your résumé on your past accomplishments; doing so will
diminish the impact of an assumption that you were let go for
performance reasons. Also, include the promotions you have had over
your tenure to show that you were rewarded for a job well done.
you will need to formulate a response for the inevitable Why did you
leave your last employer? question. First, try to put aside your hurt
feelings, as hard as that can be at a time like this, as it is crucial
that you not portray any sort of anger or assignment of blame during an
interview. Instead, prepare a confident and honest response to the
question, ending on a positive note focusing on what the experience
taught you. Perhaps this could be related to affording you the
opportunity to assess what you want to do at this juncture in your
career, and seek a position where you are a match for the organization,
its culture, and your shared goals. All the best.
I am in a quandary and need some advice. I have more than 15 years of
experience in the human resources arena, look at hundreds of résumés
each week, and can't seem to create an effective résumé marketing MY
skills! As evaluating the effectiveness of a résumé is part of my daily
job, I find it frustrating and mildly amusing that I can't seem to
write my own. Also, as human resources people are going to be looking
at my résumé, I'm finding it difficult to figure out what to tell them
that they don't already know. How should I go about developing an
effective résumé as a seasoned HR manager? – Sonya
Don't feel bad; I have heard the same comments time and time again from
the majority of my clients in the human resources field. Perhaps, as
you know so much about résumé writing and are trained to have a
critical eye when reviewing résumé content, it is difficult to have the
objectivity you need when creating your own masterpiece! In any case,
let’s go through some ways to create an effective résumé when you are
an HR professional.
As an experienced HR manager, you likely
have exposure to all generalist areas. Be sure that you use your
qualifications summary to highlight the breadth of your knowledge. I
find that using a paragraph summary of your most notable achievements
and experiences, followed by a bulleted list of noun phrases exploring
your generalist involvement, often works best for seasoned HR
professionals. This strategy allows you to focus on the factors in your
background that differentiate you from the competition, while still
incorporating all of the appropriate keywords.
Next, be sure to
highlight your professional affiliations and/or certifications. As you
know, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the leading
professional organization for the industry, and highlighting membership
reinforces your commitment to continued professional development. If
you do have any of their certifications, such as the Professional in
Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR),
or Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), be sure they are
highlighted prominently, even adding the credentials after your name at
the top of your résumé. These coveted certifications play a key role in
differentiating you from other highly qualified candidates.
showcase your accomplishments, adding quantifiers to demonstrate the
level you have achieved within your career. There is a big difference
between being an HR Manager of a small company and being one for a
5,000-employee organization with multiple sites and a union presence.
If the quantifiers work for you, be sure you leverage these to further
differentiate yourself from others. I can't stress enough how the
accomplishments section will play a key role in your evaluation, so
take some time to review what you have done that was over and above
your general responsibilities as an HR Manager.
As you noted,
the reader of your résumé likely performs the same or similar functions
to what you have done in the past. Having said that, you certainly
don't need to go into extreme detail about everything you have ever
done within the generalist arena. Certainly make a note pertaining to
the areas that you have managed, but only go into detail when the
efforts in a specific area were out of the normal scope. For example,
you wouldn't need to tell the hiring manager that recruiting entailed
placing ads, screening résumés, reviewing competencies, and
interviewing candidates, as they are all too familiar with the
functions entailed within such a role. However, if the recruiting you
performed involved utilizing numerous channels, including job fairs,
temporary agencies, and recruiters, then you would likely want to note
this extensive level of involvement within the arena.
when you have developed your résumé, it might be helpful to have a peer
or friend read it over. You are going to be more critical than most
when it comes to finalizing your résumé, and you don't want that to
hinder getting your résumé out there working for you.