Surgeons on Strike; Doctors & Nurses Convene

Candidates Aplenty: Steve McGrath

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the January 29, 2003 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

New Rules for Resumes: Susan Guarneri

Resume rules change more quickly than the seasons, and

with each evolution they become more rigid. Once upon a time, when

a big issue was whether to play it safe and print on cream-colored

stock or to be bold and go with pale blue, few misjudgments were fatal.

Now, an infraction against a resume rule could easily send the vital

document straight to the trash. Well, not actually the trash, but

rather a black hole in cyberspace.

Susan Guarneri is the owner of Lawrenceville-based career counseling

firm Guarneri Associates ( and

and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer. "People tell me

they sent out 100 resumes, and got no responses," she says of

a common scenario. Of course, there’s no telling for sure what forces

were at work, but, she says, the reason for the resounding silence

could have been something as simple as leaving the subject line on

the E-mail carrying the resume blank.

Employers and executive recruiters now overwhelmingly prefer an electronic

resume to one printed on paper. Once the E-resume is received, it’s

all about getting it into a database. Quickly. Some resumes will make

it no farther. Those that make it to the next level — a trip to

the printer — will have made the cut, in no small part, because

they were written not with a human reader in mind, but rather with

an eye toward wowing a piece of software.

So job seekers need to know how to create a resume that will wow a

keyword-scanning piece of software, and they need to know how to transmit

that resume to an employer in a manner that ensures that he will open

the E-mail, be able to get the resume into his database quickly, and

will see a clean, relatively short document when he prints it out.

Guarneri explains how to accomplish all of this when she speaks on

"The Electronic Resume" on Monday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m.

at a meeting of the Job Club, a networking and support group for job

hunters, at the Unitarian Church in Princeton. Call 609-771-1669 or

E-mail to

"A seven-year-old resume is really old," says Guarneri. So

old that it is useless. That is because optical character reading

(OCR), introduced into personnel departments in or around 1993, has

shifted the job of resume review from humans to machines. "Only

the very largest companies used OCR at first," says Guarneri.

Now, however, nearly all employers use the technology. "It’s cheaper,"

she gives as one reason for the change. Back in 1993, and up through

most of the 1990s and even into the new century, OCRs spent a good

amount of their time on paper resumes, received by snail mail. Now

that most companies prefer to receive resumes electronically, the

documents go straight to databases, where software searches for keywords

in the same way that OCRs do.

Efficient, speedy, and non-discriminatory, the software is not as

flexible as the human mind. "It can’t figure out where you would

fit in the company, what job would be good for you," says Guarneri.

They search for specific information, and categorize resumes based

on what they "see," not what they intuit. There are no "Ah!"

moments when the machine, pausing to study a resume, thinks "I

never thought of it before, but this guy would be perfect for that

recreational director/corporate outing position I have been meaning

to create."

No, the resume must be oh-so-clear on exactly where its owner would

fit in, and on what open position he is qualified to fill. "Employers

and recruiters are telling me they want `quick match’ candidates,"

says Guarneri. Matching up in the age of evaluation-by-software means

crafting a resume with just the right keywords, and then transmitting

it so that it is easy to open, print, and read. Here is Guarneri’s

advice on getting it right:

Figure out your focus. Some clients ask Guarneri for a

generic resume they can use for the three of four types of jobs they

would be happy landing. "It doesn’t work," she says. "It

totally confuses the system." For each resume you must be clear

on whether you want to land a position, for example, as a geriatric

social worker or a teacher of social work at the graduate school level.

Search newspapers and the Internet. Find job listings

for the exact position you seek. Then make a table of all the keywords

you find. "It’s basically an extraction process," says Guarneri.

"Extract all relevant words based on knowledge, skills, and abilities."

Separate required from desired. Count how many times each

keyword appears in the ads you have cut out or downloaded. Then rank

them. The words that appear the most are "required" words.

The ones that appear almost as frequently are "desired" words.

For example, the social worker might find "MSW" in every ad,

and "clinic" in 6 ads out of 10. The ubiquitous words must

be included in the resume, and they must make it in more than once.

Words that appear a little less frequently should be included if possible.

Software separates job candidates based on the keywords it finds.

If every required word turns up, the candidate joins those being considered

for the job. If many of the desired words are present, too, he moves

up in the pack, and gets closer to an interview.

Get the keywords up high. Create a qualifications summary

near the top of the resume, and pack it with keywords. Here is an

excerpt from a resume Guarneri just worked on with a manager in the

financial services industry. "Finance manager with in depth experience

in financial administration and property management, proven ability

to develop and manage client relations, insuring high productivity.

Experience includes administrative management, commercial property

management, project management, accounts payable, cash management,

billing, and visual practice management software (VPM)."

Use synonyms. Notice that the last item, the software

with which this manager has experience, is both written out and given

as initials. Some electronic resume readers will search both ways,

but others will not. So, for example, be sure to get in words both

in their fully-spelled-out form and in their abbreviated form.

Repeat keywords in the body of the resume. Some of Guarneri’s

clients think it is only necessary to get the keywords in up high.

Not so. Employers look for support for the knowledge, skills, and

abilities enumerated at the top. They should find it in details of

work history, education, awards, and professional affiliations mentioned

farther down.

Follow the rules. Name always goes on top of the resume.

"Not the word `resume,’ but name. Always name," says Guarneri.

Next comes the qualifications summary, and make sure to include all

relevant degrees, certifications, and licenses in this section. She

sees many clients who put education down at the bottom of the second

page, but the software may not get that far, and will toss them out

for not having the degree or degrees that it is programmed to see

as required keywords. More details on degrees, certifications, and

licenses can be added after work experience, which should be listed

in reverse chronological order.

Paste the resume into an E-mail window. After all the

work is done, and the keyword resume is complete, prepare it for the

E-mail window. Do not just send it as an attachment. "I know recruiters

who refuse to open any attachments at all," says Guarneri. Most

employers are leery too. Viruses, including a virulent one named "resume"

that circulated recently, have everyone scared.

To make sure your resume is not summarily deleted, send it in the

body of an E-mail. Prepare it to be sent this way by saving it as

an Ascii file. When you do so, a menu will appear. Choose the "text

only with line breaks" option. Then rename the file, close the

window, and look for the notepad icon on the desktop. Open the notepad,

count 65 characters — including spaces — and insert a hard

return. Then put in a hard return at the end of 65 characters in each

line. This takes time. "There’s no way around it," says Guarneri.

But omit this step and the resume will appear in the E-mail window

as one long paragraph.

Prepare an attachment. Sending an E-mail stating that

a resume is attached is no good, but that said, there should be a

resume attachment in addition to the resume in the body of the E-mail.

This is so, says Guarneri, because an employer might want to print

out the resume.

The Ascii version of the resume in the body of the E-mail is, of necessity,

stripped of all its formatting, including bolding and bullets. An

attachment will look a lot better. It will also be shorter. Because

of the small number of characters per line in an E-mail window, an

E-mail prints out about twice as long as an attachment. A two-page

resume printed from an attachment will be four pages long if it is

printed from the E-mail window. The shorter, better formatted document

is more pleasing to the humans who take over when the keyword software

has done its job.

The attachment can be sent as a Word or RTF document, but Guarneri

says it is a good idea to consider sending it as a pdf file instead.

Opened with Adobe Acrobat, a free program most employers use, the

pdf file "really is a picture," says Guarneri. It will look

exactly the same as a paper resume — bolding, color, stylish bullets

and all.

Add a cover letter. Prepare a short cover letter, just

two brief paragraphs, and use it as an introduction to the resume

that follows in the E-mail.

Pack the subject line with information. Never send a resume

by E-mail without filling in the subject line. That is how viruses

often are sent. Employers and recruiters know this and often delete

E-mails carrying no subject line without ever opening them.

Many job hunters just put the word "resume" into the subject

file. That is no good, says Guarneri. It just forces the overworked

recipient — an employer or recruiter, who may receive hundreds

of resumes daily — to rename the file. When responding to a posting

for a specific job, start the subject line with the job code. Follow

it with a dash. An "n" dash, Guarneri states, convinced that

nothing should be left to chance. "That’s the short dash,"

she explains. Leave a space on either side of the dash, type in last

name, followed by a dash, and job title, followed by another dash,

and then years of experience.

The subject line can be rounded off with anything that sets the candidate

apart, perhaps an MBA or other advanced degree, knowledge of an highly-desirable

computer language, or niche experience. This sounds like a lot, but

Guarneri points out that subject line holds from 60 to 80 characters,

and that it is perfectly all right to use standard abbreviations.

The focus of resume preparation has shifted from personality

to technical knowledge and a firm grasp of what keyword software looks

for, and Guarneri says this is not a bad thing. "I’ve seen too

many people who don’t figure out what they want to do, and put it

on others," she says. With the keyword resume, there is no waffling,

no "Gee, I don’t know exactly what I want to do. I just want to

work with people." The job candidate must be crystal clear about

who he is and just exactly where he fits in.

Top Of Page
Surgeons on Strike; Doctors & Nurses Convene

New Jersey’s surgeons are threatening to cancel all

elective surgery on Monday and Tuesday, February 3 and 4, to draw

attention to what they say is a critical problem in getting malpractice

insurance. As it happens, the Women’s Heart Foundation and Robert

Wood Johnson Medical School are holding a medical conference that


Mehmet Oz, author of "Healing from the Heart," is the

keynote speaker of "Getting to the Heart of It: Interventions

to Improve Women’s Outcomes," on Monday, February 3, from 11:30

a.m. to 7 p.m. at the medical school at 125 Paterson Street in New

Brunswick. Cost: $30 for nurses, $65 for physicians. Call 609-771-9600.

Other speakers will be Lou-Anne Beauregard, clinical associate

professor of medicine, and Bonnie Arkus, founder of the Women’s

Heart Foundation.

Beauregard hopes to point out the gender bias that women encounter.

"Women need to know about the manifestations of heart disease

for us, as women, as well as to have a better understanding of epidemiological

and clinical research that is taking place in these areas," she

says. Among the topics to be discussed as they relate to women are

the use of estrogen for heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, underutilized

pacemakers and ICDs, and shortness of breath as it relates to congestive

heart failure.

Perhaps surgeons not planning to be in the operating room will have

a better opportunity to attend this conference.

Top Of Page
Candidates Aplenty: Steve McGrath

Employers are still looking for a few good men (or,

of course, women) to fill senior positions. "There is a critical

need for salespeople and sales managers, right up to the v.p. level,"

says Steve McGrath, founder and president of McGrath & Associates

(609-844-7579), an executive recruitment firm with offices in the

Princeton Pike Corporate Center. "There’s a pretty good demand

for scientists and engineers, too," he adds. "Mechanical engineers

are in great demand." And while there are not as many opportunities

for chemical engineers right now, the market is pretty good for electrical

and manufacturing engineers.

That’s the good news. Those are the bright spots in an economy that

is still refusing to turn around. "Since I’ve been in business,"

says McGrath, who founded his company in 1995, "I’ve never seen

so many people available. We have more candidates than at any point

since we started." Certain industries, he says, "have been

decimated." His firm specializes in placing executives with companies

in the financial services, pharma/healthcare, consulting, and high

tech industries. In that group, the only sector he immediately thinks

to list as doing well is medical devices.

While the overall economic climate leaves a lot to be desired, strong

candidates are getting jobs, and McGrath says his is one of the few

executive recruiting firms willing to work with those candidates.

Like most recruiters, McGrath goes out and finds most of the executives

he places. Typically, they are sitting at desks, more or less happily

employed, when he calls with an opportunity. Unlike most recruiters,

he and his staff are willing to spend time with candidates, many of

them downsized executives, who come to them.

"I spend one day a week working with candidates," says McGrath.

He does this because he might find a perfect match for a client, and

also because "you never know where business comes from." In

other words, it is entirely possible that one of these out-of-work

executives will one day be in a position to retain an executive search

firm. "People have long memories," says McGrath.

When executives do come to him, McGrath puts them through their paces.

"It’s a process," he says of the road to a good, new job.

He finds that many executives don’t quite grasp how the process works,

but provides insight when he speaks on "What the Recruiter Can

— and Can’t — Do for You" on Tuesday, February 4, at 7:30

p.m. at a free meeting of Jobseekers, a networking and support group

for downsized workers, at Trinity Church in Princeton. Call 609-924-2277.

McGrath earned a degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytech

in 1974 and an MBA from Wharton in 1977. He went into management consulting

and found the part of the business he liked the best was selling consulting

services. After nearly 20 years, he decided that "if I can sell

X million for you guys, I can sell some smaller amount for myself."

He left his corporate job, set up his own shop, called up all of his

former clients, and soon had a substantial roster of clients.

The way McGrath started his company points toward what he considers

to be the key process downsized executives need to employ in looking

for a new position — targeted networking. Here is how to hone

networking skills.

Reach out to people with entree. Most people think they

know how to network, but, says McGrath, there are relatively few good

networkers. "You need to find the people who can open doors for

you," he says, acknowledging that this is far easier said than


Offer help before asking for help. After identifying these

priceless contacts, find out how you can help them. "Understand

what they’re looking for," says McGrath. Shortly after the meeting,

and armed with an idea of how you can be of service, follow-up.

Look for a personal referral. Most of the candidates with

whom McGrath & Associates agree to work come through referrals.

That is also the way most people land in good jobs. "Identify

companies you would like to work for, and then work your way in through

referrals," is McGrath’s advice.

Don’t worry about being unemployed. Being out of work

no longer carries even the hint of disgrace. In fact, McGrath says

that on at least a few occasions he has counseled job changers to

leave their current jobs in order to devote all of their energy to

looking for a better job. "If you’ve been out of work for two

years, that’s a red flag," he says. But no networking contact

— and no employer — will care if you have been downsized.

Networking, along with research, carefully targeted online resume

postings, and polished interview skills all require work — more

work than many job hunters expect. "A lot of people who approach

us make the assumption that we have jobs sitting on the shelf,"

says McGrath. But no, he declares: "It’s their responsibility

to find a job, not ours."

Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments