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How to Write a Human Resources Resume in a Recession

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Everywhere you turn these days you hear about how the economy is headed for, or is already in, a recession. The newspapers, magazines, television talk shows, and online articles all make it sound like you are going to go broke any day unless you ''recession- proof'' your finances. One of the main recommendations consistently made for recession-proofing your family's finances is to have plenty of savings on hand. The next most important recommendation out there is that you should have your resume ready in case your job is one of the many that will be downsized during these tough economic times.

As a human resources professional, you may already be seeing your employer engaging in less spending on training and development, and decreasing the employee perk programs. These are common cutbacks for companies that are feeling a pinch. If you are a recruiter, you may be seeing fewer positions being filled, or at least seeing less urgency in bringing on new employees. So with all these news reports and a little less work coming your way, it certainly would seem a good idea to get your resume in order, just in case.

The most important thing to keep in mind as you get started is that you and a whole lot of other people are thinking the same thing and will be competing for the same small number of available jobs. offers a solid warning when it comes to updating your resume. It can be dangerous to simply pull out the resume you used to score your current job five years ago, add a few sentences to reflect the work that you have done for your current employer, and start sending it out. This commonly leads to an outdated resume that will reflect the minimal effort you put into it. Your first chance at making a first impression with a company should not make you look like an individual who does the minimal amount of work required! Each position you apply for should have its own resume.

There is always room for customization and improvement in every section. Sometimes a company puts out a job posting that will call for specific skills like ''knowledge of SAP'' or ''extensive knowledge of hiring foreign workers,'' while another company may not use SAP and may never hire foreign workers. If you have those skills and put them down on the resume for the job that calls for them, you might have an edge over other applicants. If you put those skills down on a resume for the company where those skills are irrelevant, then you have just taken up valuable space on your resume that could have been used to improve your chances at getting an interview with them for their position.

Generally speaking, you might want to think about removing any basic, outdated skills and putting down new, more relevant ones. You should probably take off that you know how to use WIndows 98 and put down that you know how to get around the latest and greatest version of Windows available at your company that you are using on a daily basis. Also, make sure to add training courses or classes you've taken to show your continued interest in learning and that you are an educated worker. Education can be the edge you need in landing a job in a recession.

Accordingly, make sure that you are doing all you can do to take advantage of all your educational opportunities. Does your company have a generous tuition reimbursement program? If so, take a class or two at a local school or online university. Is your boss supportive of taking one- and two-day courses or training sessions offsite in your area? Sign up for ones occurring in the near future that you think would be most relevant in landing your next job but are still reasonably useful in your current position.

Include any classes or training you can on your resume. Even if all of the education and training is not 100% relevant, any education you can show that you have had is a good thing. All employers have to train and teach new employees to some extent, no matter what their backgrounds or prior experiences are. Demonstrating a willingness and ability to learn new things makes you a valuable potential employee. It will show that you are a good candidate for rapidly picking up on the necessary skills to have quick success in a new position at a new company.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that there are industries out there that will be losing as much as 60% of their workforces due to retirement in the coming years. The article goes on to say that they won't have a choice but to fill those positions despite the recession. However, they do have the choice to fill those positions with the best and brightest candidates they can find, and in a recession there are even more available candidates to choose from. A well-educated prospective employee will likely land the position over other candidates if all other things, even job experience, are equal.

Otherwise, don't forget the basics. Resume writing in a recession for human resources professionals is not really all that different from ambitious resume writing at any other time. When you start off with an ''Objective'' or ''Summary,'' make sure that you make that a worthwhile use of space. For instance, recruiters will likely groan and have to force themselves to read on if you start off with something like ''Objective: Seeking a position as a human resources manager with a growing company.'' However, you can really grab a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s attention and excite them to devour the rest of your resume if you start out with something like ''Summary: PHR certified human resources manager with 20 years experience looking to take on next career adventure.''

As you go along, be sure to spell and grammar check your resume, but have someone read it over for editing purposes, as well. Keep things clear with a simple font like Arial in a 10-12 pt. size. Do not extend your resume beyond one page if you can help it, and by all means limit it to two pages. At some point in your career, maybe you were or are a recruiter yourself. Do not hesitate to stop and think about what you like and do not like to see when you review resumes!

Furthermore, some good advice on Yahoo's site reminds us that, above all, every resume should be truthful and showcase how you can benefit a company. It is noteworthy to remember that a recession is not the time to think that a company owes you something — it is truly a time where just about any company can afford to be choosy because there are plenty of candidates available.

The online source offers additional tips on how to get your resume noticed and read out of the stack of hundreds of others sitting on someone's desk. Competition can be tough in a recession, so make sure your resume is specific and easy to read. A recruiter or hiring manager should be able to easily see what your particular accomplishments and achievements have been throughout your career. If you were given awards for the shortest time-to-fill when you were a recruiter at your last job, be sure to include that. If you negotiated a 10% lower rate for your company's health insurance contract, say that you “negotiated a 10% lower rate for your company's health insurance contract.” Things like this show a company what you will inevitably do for them. It will show that you are an individual who gets things done. It makes the job of the decision maker reviewing your resume easier because rather than guessing what you might be able to do based on your education, skills, and experience, you are telling them what your education, skills, and experience have actually produced.

When you write your resume this way, you will be better prepared you for the type of interview that you will likely be given. Most companies currently conduct ''behavioral-based interviews,'' which means that they will ask you to ''give an example of when you had to make a quick decision'' or ''tell us about a time when you didn't have all the resources you would have liked to have but had to get your job done anyhow.'' If your resume already sets up some of these scenarios, you will be well on your way to demonstrating your worth and how you and you alone can provide the most value to a company during these times of recession.

The best way to get in at a company is if you know someone. You can either go directly through that person by giving them your resume to take to the relevant person, or they can at least give you the name of a real contact person for the job you are applying for. Many job postings today contain general information, general email addresses, or company websites for submitting resumes. It can be very difficult to actually speak to the real decision maker who will be reviewing the resume. By using the conventional route — attaching your resume to an email going to a general email address – it’s possible that a real person may never even see your resume among the thousands of others getting dumped into a database. A personal touch, connecting with a real person, will always improve your prospects. Once you get your resume submitted the best way possible, be sure to follow up on it until you get your interview or have at least been given a satisfactory response otherwise.
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