By Dominic J. Frúges
In today’s turbulent work environment people can find themselves in a few status stages:
• Recent college grad or 20-Something Gen Y
• Returning to Work after Child Rearing or Elder Care status
• Over 45 – 65 and facing “long-term” unemployed status, skills not up to date, or age discrimination
• Unemployed: suddenly laid off, downsized, right-sized, or job eliminated
Many people have a shock period with emotional lows, worries about family and economic issues, then an onset of reality. At that point they sit down and immediately want to create a resume so they can start looking for a job.
As anyone knows who has been through the myriad of career coaches, books, and webinars, there are numerous ways to write a resume. Many people agree that if you line up 100 people to review your resume, you will get 100 different opinions.
Some years ago, I invested nearly $500 to have a professional resume writer prepare my resume. The short story is that he in turn passed off the assignment to someone else “on his team”. What I got back was a document with misspellings, incomplete sentences and sentences that made no sense. I had to reach back out to the original writer and express my dissatisfaction. He then worked directly with me to create a new resume.
However, what I remember most about the entire process was the reams of paperwork which the writer demanded I prepare before writing the resume. Ironically, at that time I had a friend going through the same process with a different resume service. We compared notes and essentially came to the same conclusion: the entire process was like walking over hot coals.
Years later, I acquired the services of a well known career coach in the New Jersey area. He, too, had a process, one element of which was the same as the resume writer. My career coach, surprised when I handed in my first draft of this requirement, said: “You’ve got this done pretty well.”
It’s called PARR: Problem, Action, Resolution, Results
You may have heard the same expressed as PAR, CAR, SARB, and other acronyms. Here’s why you want to use PARR before you start a resume especially if you are in any of the categories that I described above.
PARR takes you out of resume thinking mode and forces you into a deeper thinking mode. It makes you reassess all of your experience throughout your entire career. That could start at the local supermarket when you were a teen all the way up to your most recent position. Precisely, that’s what it is intended to do – detach you from resume writing mode to thinker and analyst mode. You are analyzing your own career in a way that you have probably never done before.
Here is how it looks in reality. Open up a new MS Word document and put it in landscape mode. Then insert a table with four columns. Add a series of rows for your input. I prefer MS Word to MS Excel because most of your input will be words, not numbers or equations.
Add as many rows as you may need. The document may be multiple pages.
Here is a sample:
So, now you have defined a specific challenge / problem that you handled, the action you took, the resolution (which may or may not include a numeric value), and a result that should be numeric in value.
One of my major challenges as a marketing person is that in the old classical marketing days there was often no feedback — either numeric or qualitative — on a given campaign. Yes, that is how old I am. Today, as I often half-jokingly say, “You can’t put a stamp on an envelope without a Return on Investment (ROI) on the campaign.”
That is especially true in the digital marketing world and most of marketing in general.
A New Twist on PARR
In the last few years, as the number of resumes submitted for jobs has grown, the PARR format has come under some criticism for being too “verbose.” Human Resources staffs have been trimmed and the remaining staffs handling positions are swamped with resumes from both qualified and unqualified candidates.
So, I read about a new format at www.TheLadders.com which allows you to still use the information from a PARR analysis, but in a shortened way.
Now you can shorten the language but use the Results column along with the Resolution column to place a significant bullet that attracts the attention of:
1. Resume Scanner
2. Human Resources staff
3. Hiring Manager
What this does is gets Results or Resolution up front for the reader’s eyes and minimizes the time explaining the problem. So, using the PARR format from above:
• IMPROVED CUSTOMER CREDIT and MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY: Added $100,000 to company revenues through improved credit processes. Improved collections by 15%, decreased charge-back investigations by 10%, and sped up the credit approval process. Accomplished this by taking responsibility for all credit-related issues and writing appropriate internal rules to address issues.
This process helps you through “the forest and the trees” when starting or restarting your career. I would urge you to try using PARR as an exercise before you write a resume.
Also, your PARRs become the “snippets” of information that you feed to the hiring company.
The first few bullet points on your resume should directly address the specified job requirements. If this information is hidden on Page 3 of your resume, you will not hit the mark. As you only have about eight seconds to attract attention to your resume, put what the company wants on your first page.
I use what I call a “Mini-Hybrid” resume — heresy to some career coaches. I try to match the first four or five job requirements specified by the hiring company in the first portion of the resume’s first page. My bullets from my “snippets” list correspond directly to their needs.
One career coach states that you must answer the requirements for the position — not the duties and responsibilities. That is easier said than done. I could write the War and Peace version of how companies have forgotten or lost the ability to write a succinct job description. I can tell you that Jason and the Argonauts are still looking for The Golden Fleece and a well written job description.
In any event, if the company states in their requirements:
• Need to improve customer credit processes, increase collections, and decrease charge-back investigations to speed up the credit approval process
Then your answer to solve their problem had better be on Page 1 of your resume, not on Page 2 or 3. Remember, you have eight seconds to get that in front of their eyes:
• IMPROVED CUSTOMER CREDIT and MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY: Added $100,000 to company revenues through improved credit processes. Improved collections by 15%, decreased charge-back investigations by 10%, and speeded up the credit approval process. Accomplished this by taking responsibility for all credit-related issues and writing appropriate internal rules to address issues.
Good luck and do not not forget to pay it forward whenever you can.
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Dominic J. Frúges is a marketing innovator and thought leader who uses strategic, market and situational analysis to assess strengths or areas for improvement. He is expert at developing value propositions, strategic messaging, features and benefits that position products.
Fruges achieves vision by extracting intelligence from market research sources, using situational analysis, and then applying it to positioning and marketing strategies. His marketing efforts were instrumental in increasing revenue by $51M in one year for a tech firm and generating a new revenue stream of $500K through a brand launch for a consumer products firm.
An ex-military officer, Fruges brings the discipline of situational analysis along with prior industry diversity in sales and marketing to identifying market needs and solutions. He is responsible for three solution launches at Lucent Technologies, seven product launches at Adtran, Inc. (carrier telecom equipment). He has B2B, B2C, High Tech, Services, and sales experience as well as the CloudMASTER® Certificate from NJIT University and a Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing and MBA from Rutgers University.