Skip to content

Business consultant analyzes resumé

Part of our NOW WHAT!?! series of stories on looking for work
Tracey Fieber
Tracey Fieber has authored a new book called Mentoring - A Push In The Right Direction.

Estevan – The first stop hitting the pavement on this job hunt was to see someone who specializes in human resources, a firm that can sometimes be colloquially referred to as a headhunter.
That firm was Estevan-based Tracey Fieber Business Solutions.

Among their services (see relates story Page A16) the company will screen resumés for their clients.

“We’ve gotten 120 resumés for one job. That’s a big change from two years ago, or one year ago,” Tracey Fieber said.

The difference between being flooded with resumés or getting none is all in the wording of the advertisement, she noted. Too broad an ad can lead to the flood, but too restrictive of an ad can result in a field of prospective workers that is too constrained.

In her time both in her previous career and as a business consultant, Fieber’s seen a lot of resumés. My goal here was to see if my resumé was up to snuff, and if it would be appropriate today given that it’s been 12 years since I had last handed out a resumé.

“You’re well connected,” was her first comment, scanning the resumé.

“Some are hiring right now. This is a great time to find people we couldn’t get before,” Fieber said, referencing the long-standing labour shortage that had been prevalent in the region.
In this case, I was looking for excavator operator work primarily, or other oilfield work. However it’s been 12 years since I’ve run an excavator. Would she consider that stale-dated?

Perhaps in my own mind, but not in the mind of people hiring, she replied. “You could still jump on,” she said. “Don’t sell yourself short. Previous experience still applies.”

However, she also noted it’s important not to brag, either.

“It’s the stories you tell that will tell people your expertise. Talk in a lingo that describes it.”

She suggested checking in with Sask Apprenticeship to see if it is still possible to complete my pipeline equipment operator (excavator) journeyman ticket. That would involve acquiring another 1,000 hours on excavators and taking the exam.

When it comes to resumés, she noted it’s important to make the email address easily seen. Social media line items would not be necessary, nor had they been included.

“What is it my industry uses?” Fieber questioned. “Cellphone? You could use home phone, email. You don’t need street address, although 'Estevan' shows you’re local or if you will need to move elsewhere.
“Remember you’re applying for a trade.”

As for the layout, she said someone may not believe I had done it myself, but rather someone might have done it for me. This was because I actually did prepare resumés for other people as a sideline in university.

She picked up on a few typos that had been missed. While people hiring excavator operators may not be as picky about typos and formatting, other employers might be.

But while I thought it was somewhat fancy, Fieber said “I would call yours plain by today's standards. But back then (15-20 years ago), it was higher quality.”

She liked the presentation of education and training, as well as skills and certificates, but suggested some format changes and the inclusion of ticket expiry dates. This is important to potential employers, since a ticket that’s still good for another two years means they won’t be expected to pay for your recertification right away.

“Some people like to see a combination of union/non-union experience,” she said, pointing to my work record. If a person’s experience is totally union, “it changes the dynamic.”  Fieber also suggested replacing my “skills and attributes” section with a listing of three to five “competencies,” providing examples such as leadership or independent.

This is where we got into the tricky thing – this resumé is long – five pages including a page of references.  It’s wordy, she noted. “They want quick facts.”

Two pages are ideal, three if needed. My resumé, in other words, is way too long in her eyes.
A resumé should include contact information, skills, work experience, education, hobbies/interests and references (as an option). You have seven seconds to catch someone’s attention, according to Fieber.
“You don’t have to include everything,” she said. 

In the job experience, dates are important, because they show things like longevity or job hopping. For a period where I had a lot of short-term projects, she suggested explaining just that – “completed three week project;” “layoff due to weather,” etc.

“Many times it’s not just what’s in the resumé, but what’s not,” she noted. When reviewing resumés for clients, she said, “We’re trying to verify the assumptions people would make.”

For instance, employers may ask about gaps in employment. 

She noted an example of someone who may have lost their drivers licence. Some employers may want to see a year of being clean after a DUI incident. “They want to see they can stay clean,” Fieber said. “People believe we can improve, but to employ them, they need to see a track record (of improvement).

One of the more curious things about the resumé I presented her with was the mix of news reporting, photography and excavator experience. While photography and newspaper work are a natural link, “Dirt work and newspapers are more of a stretch.”

However, plenty of people change careers, she noted, and it’s not uncommon for people hitting 40 or 50 to make a big change.

This resumé had a number of references from different areas. Asked about the theory that some people won’t look at a resumé without references, Fieber responded that one third to one quarter of employers will expect references on the resumé. “You want at least three,” she said.

If you don’t include them on the resumé, you should take them on a page with you into a job interview so you can provide them immediately. 

There’s also a question of how much weight references can be given, since these days negative references are rarely given for fear of legal issues. “You have to be honest, but you can’t negatively affect them,” Fieber explained.

For instance, a person called for a reference might only provide basic facts, like the position held, and dates of employment. They may choose not to say much more than that.

If a reference is asked if the person is re-hireable, they are allowed to say “yes” or “no,” but may say “I can’t comment on that.”

Many companies today require pre-job drug screening. While you may have passed a drug test in the past, don’t include it on the resumé, Fieber noted. “Just because you passed a month ago, it doesn’t mean you will today.”

Summing up, she asked, “Are you sure you want to do excavation?”

Fieber suggested an alternate career in sales. “You have the relationship skills and can talk to people – a natural connector.”

There are not a lot of jobs out there for excavator operators right now, she noted. For municipalities, perhaps, but oilfield-related, no.

“No one is hiring, and they’re having a tough time keeping staff,” Fieber said.

For workers in general, she said, “No matter what is happening, you need to think about your options. You can be laid off. It can be a shock.

“It’s never easy to lay someone off, yet those business decisions need to be made. A lot of people should be doing assessments if they have to change careers.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks