Between the Lines: Career Makeover

not too many <196> to the wise for">Words <196> not too many <196> to the wise for

The Candidates

Nancy King Baskin

Jim Hockenberry

Nancy Clayton

Ruth Craxton

Robert Guthrie

Scott Hartshorn

Patricia Jackson

Garnett Thompkins

Kenneth Turi

Corrections or additions?

This story by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.

Resume Not Magic Wand

Top Of Page
Between the Lines: Career Makeover

Resumes are like hair dos — they can take the same

information and tease it in several different directions. Which would

be best? It’s partly a matter of personal taste, partly depending

on what’s in style. Resumes are also like hair cuts because we all

have one, no matter how outdated, and those of us who are in the job

market tend to obsess about them. If only we could get a makeover!

U.S. 1 this week approached two dozen job seekers: Some had used our

free "job wanted" ads, others belong to the JobSeekers group,

and still others we encountered by chance. For our "career makeover"

story we asked them to submit their resumes for review by a team of

experts — career counselors, human resource executives, and personnel

agencies — and promised we would print the constructive criticism.

Very special thanks go to the dozen experts, including high ranking

personnel officers at major employers, who contributed comments. But

the real kudos go to the brave job seekers whose submitted their resumes

for this story. They showed they are not afraid to go to any lengths

to get a job done — or to get the job. They are hoping that a

U.S. 1 reader will spot their resume and the perfect job will land

at their door.

As you read the story starting on page 14, you may apply what the

experts say about resumes to your own. But please also ponder the

experience and job histories of Nancy King Baskin, Nancy Clayton,

Ruth Craxton, Robert Guthrie, Scott Hartshorn, Jim Hockenberry, Patricia

Jackson, Garnett Thompkins, Kenneth Turi, Richard G. Wheeler, and

Lois Yuhasz.

Does your company need their expertise? Can you think of someone who

might offer one of them the perfect job? If job hunting is all about

networking, then this story is a giant networking opportunity. Do

call these job hunters if you have a "lead."

For privacy reasons, we printed phone numbers and E-mail addresses,

but not street addresses. If you wish to contact the job hunters by

mail, write to them care of U.S. 1 Newspaper, 12 Roszel Road, Princeton


Top Of Page
Words not too many to the wise for


by Barbara Figge Fox

Too many words — and not the right words —

ruin a resume. You may think your resume has to say everything about

you, but it doesn’t. It is not your autobiography. "People who

have a job with one company for a very long time want to tell


about what they did," says Pat Clayton of BAI Personnel Solutions,

the Independence Way-based personnel agency. "But it is so much

information, they don’t know where to begin."

U.S. 1 asked a dozen job seekers for their resumes, and then submitted

those resumes for review by career counselors, corporate human


executives, and employment agencies. All agreed that, for most, the

major mistake was length. They were too wordy.

"Resumes are nothing more or less than junk mail advertising,"

says Niels Nielsen of Princeton Management Consultants. "They

have to be really eyecatching in 20 seconds, period."

Rather than expect your resume to include everything you ever did,

prepare it as a marketing tool. When human resource executives scan

a resume, says Elizabeth Hinds, vice president of Educational Testing

Service, they are looking to quickly scan the "flow" and then

see where the candidate is now. "Give them something to grab their


"Just open the door with the resume," says Helen Neuman,


group leader for the Professional Roster and career development


"Leave something for the interview."

Overall, what should a resume look like? "A resume is not just

words on paper — it is a whole approach, the appeal of the whole

document to a particular audience," says Susan Guarneri, who has

a career counseling practice. "The first thing is to look at the

entire document, the whole eyeball full."

The experts agree that resumes generally should never exceed two pages

in length; that they should be laser printed on white, 25 percent

cotton bond paper; and that they should be limited to one font —

Courier, Helvetica or Times Roman, with a minimum of bolding. Beyond

that common advice, they cite pitfalls associated with these common

resume elements:

Objective and/or summary statement. Vague and verbose

statements swamp a lot of these resumes. A one sentence career

objective should tell the industry, the position, and the level of

responsibility that you seek. Does everything on your resume clearly

support this objective? Alternately, is the summary compelling and

make the reader want to read further?

Some experts prefer resumes without objectives: "We find a career

objective is limiting. Handle that task in a cover letter, and make

the resume generic," says P.J. Dempsey of Morgan Mercedes.

"I don’t like objectives," says Patrick Mooney, vice president

of human resources for Mathematica Policy Research. "Every time

I see one I say, `I know what your objective is, to get this


Chronological work history for the last 10 years or the last

three jobs with job titles, names of employers, dates,


in reverse chronological order. But in the chronological resumes


too many people went too far back in their job histories.

Those with breaks in their job history, or those trying to change

careers, may want to substitute a functional resume that groups


around specific headlines and provides the work history only in


form on the second page. A combination resume puts a summary of major

accomplishments at the top, followed by the chronological career


Be forewarned, however, that the functional resume is not always


"I have a personal bias against functional resumes," says

Mooney of Mathematica. "Career counselors like them, and they

are wrong. If I have to look for information, I can lose


"Companies are looking for breaks in jobs, for `where is this

person now and what does this person do.’ If someone has to look too

hard, the resume will go to the bottom of the pile," says Dempsey.

Accomplishments along with each job, each beginning with

an action word and showing the benefit received by employer. Failure

to qualify or quantify the accomplishments is a major mistake.

One Peterson’s Guide book suggests a helpful acronym — think of

putting your OAR in the water: Opportunities you seized, Actions you

took to make improvements or to solve these problems, and Results

or benefits the employer received, in quantitative terms.

Education. Put this at the end, unless you are a new


graduate, are applying for a teaching position, or if your degree

gives you an advantage over most in the field.

Optional elements. Our experts agreed that applicants

can include a skills profile, foreign language expertise, professional

affiliations and licenses, and miscellaneous achievements that


your career objective or demonstrate your excellence."

Gone are the days when you would want to include the intriguing


that you are marathon runner or deep sea diver. "I am not too

keen on personal stuff. I don’t want to risk being biased one way

or another," says Mooney. "I want someone who says I am


on this job and when I work for you that’s what I am going to do."

All of our experts want to see evidence that the applicants are


literate. But one job seeker did not specify any computer skills and

also used a typeface that just happens to resemble pica type on a

typewriter. Some reviewers assumed he had not computer skills —

when he does. So if it is not obvious from your work history that

you know the relevant software programs, say so.

Jargon, yes or no? Yes, if you think your resume will

be scanned in, use the key words.

Marlene Devlin of Cittone Institute favors what she calls a


resume, with a certain font size and no bolding so your resume can

be scanned," To find the right scannable key words she recommends

"The Job Hunters Word Finder: the complete guide to key words

and phrases for resumes, cover letters, and interviews," by James

Bluemond, published by Peterson’s (1996, $12.95).

But use plain English also: "Anyone should be able to pick up

a resume and understand what you did, even if they don’t know what

the technical terms mean," says Hinds of ETS.

When all is said and done, a bad resume might keep you from being

considered, but it won’t get you hired. So write your resume


but don’t think it has to be your magic wand. "A resume is an

appetizer, not the entree," says P.J. Dempsey. "They are


you, not a piece of paper."

Top Of Page
The Candidates

From art director to financial executive, from B&B owner

to hospital administrators, a dozen job seekers sent their resumes

for evaluation. What could be done to improve these resumes, we asked.

What suggestions would you have for this person’s career? We consulted

career counselors, human resource executives, and employment agencies,

Here are their suggestions for career makeovers.

Top Of Page
Nancy King Baskin

Nancy King Baskin, East Windsor.

Fax, 609-448-7447,

E-mail:">> ,

or contact Experience Works.


art director or graphic designer.

In the resume printed on the cover of this issue — the only

one pager in this bunch — Baskin lists her qualifications at the

top, followed by an employment history that consists of three years

as senior art director at Montgomery Commons-based VCG2 Inc. and 10

years as head of her own agency. Then comes her education (Cooper

Union BFA, advanced computer graphics degree at Platt College in San

Diego, and a certificate in computer design) and memberships.

"The resume is very plain, and it doesn’t do much for her. For

graphic artists, you see a lot of those personable "original"

resumes," says Bill Grober, of Crossroads Personnel.

But those "original" resumes are just what Baskin wanted to

avoid. "I didn’t want to sell myself through the resume. I do

that through my portfolio," says Baskin. "People don’t like

to read a lot. I wanted to keep it as legible and clean as possible.

Resumes that are arty, after a very short while, start looking


"An art director doesn’t need to be wildly creative because an

art director is also a manager," agrees Susan Guarneri of Susan

Guarneri Associates, "But I really don’t think it should be plain

vanilla unless you are going to apply to a very conservative company

and are willing to work in that environment."

"It looks like she cut herself short. But quite frankly when I

recruited these kinds of people, I excused the bad resumes," says

Elizabeth Hinds, vice president of ETS, and a veteran of 20 years

in the entertainment industry with Capital Cities ABC.

The skills, says Hinds, should not be included with the qualifications

but could be incorporated with duties. "Just saying `highly


or `excelled’ in a global sense doesn’t give it to you. Don’t say

excelled in creative concept, say where you used it, perhaps by adding

a few bullets on what some of your duties entailed."

"Or at the bottom, instead of awards, put the skills. They


don’t belong up top."

Top Of Page
Jim Hockenberry

James L. Hockenberry, Princeton. 609-452-6208; fax,


Summary: "International senior financial executive with

a special focus on financial and investment analysis, strategic


and business development," and six more bullet points.

Hockenberry has worked in Switzerland for 15 years and now seeks

a stateside job. He has been a controller and a business analyst,

but from 1988 to 1997 he was director of financial planning and


at Grace Europe Inc., a division of a Fortune 100 firm, W.R. Grace

& Co. Some of his bullet points:

Managed all aspects of the planning, analysis, and


development function for the Product Lines reporting through the HQ.

Teamed with special task forces;

Led 12-member Financial Reengineering team to redesign

Grace Europe’s financial operations and processes.

At the bottom of the resume he puts his professional


education (cum laude in economics from Lafayette and MBA from


and an "Addenda" with "working knowledge of French"

and extensive participation in an English-speaking Swiss theater


In general, says Pat Clayton of BAI, his length of service with one

company "tells you that he is a good employee who gives 150


and has a heavy background." She suggests Hockenberry might do

well at Rhodia (formerly Rhone-Poulenc, with its parent company in

France, and Rhodia — which happened to review this resume —

agrees, saying Hockenberry would "would be a potential candidate

for a director of finance position at Rhodia."

Hockenberry has misfocused his accomplishments, says Humes of American

Reinsurance. Rather than "teamed with special task forces,"

the important thing is that he "redesigned the financial


and processes."

All agree that Hockenberry should drop reference to his theater group

but feature his fluency in French, probably higher up, or under a

heading of "Personal" rather than "Addenda."

Computer skills are not ubiquitous among European executives. "If

he were to apply for a position here he would, at basic, have to know

Windows 95 and Excel," says Pat Clayton. "I would suggest

that if he doesn’t have that, he should take some classes, then put

it on the resume."

Top Of Page
Nancy Clayton

Nancy A. Clayton, Yardville. 609-585-1481.


project or customer service manager.

Alone of all the resumes, this is a functional one, with a


overview followed by achievements in sales, customer service,


finance and accounting, management and training, travel and event

planning, and project management/telecommunications.

On the second page is her career chronology with dates, titles,


and location; education (an associates’s degree from Southern Virginia

College, a BS from Rider University, and studies toward an MBA at

City University in Washington State; and affiliations.

In sales, says Mike Toht of Experience Works, "you want to come

across as dynamic. The words she uses gives us that perception of

a dynamic, `go out and do’ person in a fast paced environment,


multiple projects."

He wishes that Clayton could get all of the functional assets on the

first page. Rhodia’s HR people agree that Clayton should limit the

achievements to those relevant to the job she is applying for, and

that she might want to create different resumes for various jobs.

They suggest that she would be a potential candidate for an executive

secretary position at Rhodia.

Top Of Page
Ruth Craxton

Ruth A. Craxton, Princeton, 609-921-3799. Objective:

none listed on the resume.

After graduating cum laude in economics from Columbia in 1981,

Craxton was executive assistant to the president of the Metropolitan

Museum of Art, controller of a California technology firm, staff


at Thomas Cook in Princeton, and administrative assistant to the


of the Center for Health Care Strategies Inc. Her two-page resume

chronologically lists her jobs, starting in 1967.

"We couldn’t tell what she wanted to do, especially because she

has two tracks — administrative and accounting," says Toht.

"Everybody thought she could do the resume on one page," says

Toht, "and that this should be a functional resume highlighting

finance/accounting and administrative/coordination. If you do a


resume, you lose lines."

"We can’t tell if she is PC friendly," says Toht. "If

you are not, you don’t put it there, but if she is PC friendly she

should say that."

"In total she had too many jobs listed over too long a period

of time," says Patrick Mooney of Mathematica. "She got her

degree in ’81, and unless she thinks those earlier jobs really enhance

her I would start with the job when she got out, the Metropolitan.

I am not saying to pretend to be a lot younger, but there are an awful

lot of jobs here."

If you are filling out an application you must list everything, for

as many boxes as the firm provides, and if you are talking to someone,

you tell them everything, says Mooney. "But on a resume you can

summarize them by saying "also held jobs as. . . ."

"Her descriptions of her two most recent jobs are too brief,"

says Mooney. "She needs to present more information about what

skills she gained in the jobs. The most recent one she says almost

nothing about, and that may be because she went from controller to

accountant to administrative assistant. She might want to put


in her cover letter about her career path."

Top Of Page
Robert Guthrie

Robert L. Guthrie, 3694 Aquetong Road, Carversville, PA.

215-297-0758 or 609-452-6263. Summary: "Senior management

executive with extensive experience in operations management and



Guthrie went to University of Delaware (Class of 1974), has

an MBA from Temple, and had spent virtually his entire career at


Hospital, moving from assistant director to senior vice president,

but lost his job due to downsizing in the healthcare industry.

The experience section is a chronological account of his jobs with

a dozen bullet points — quantified actions such as "developed

and implemented five-year Facility Master Plan . . . to maximize


funding" and "coordinated facility construction and directed

startup activities for $3 million MRI Center."

On the second page he continues these descriptions and then lists

education, an impressive array of professional affiliations, and


community service record, including being campaign chairman of United


At Experience Works, says Mike Toht, "Everybody really liked his

summary. Basically, he got out of school and worked at one big place

and worked his way up. We thought the way the market is now he would

want to go to professional healthcare staffing agencies or consider

being a consultant."

To make the resume relevant to other industries, it could be redone

as a functional resume, Toht suggests, emphasizing the bullets


"Restructured and introduced" over those that say


or "Coordinated."

"Hospitals are being cut to the bone, and management is


but we are under the assumption he is willing to move around and,

with his experience, could go to any number of hospital settings.

If he doesn’t wish to move he has to think of broader categories."

Bert Newton of ETS would like to see Guthrie’s resume reduced to one

page: "His work experience is too wordy. He should quantify


— state how many people he supervised, and if he had a budget

he should tell how much it was. For jobs that date back 10 years,

a summary is sufficient, and the education is so long ago that he

needs to take the dates off."

Top Of Page
Scott Hartshorn

Scott F. Hartshorn, Princeton, 609-921-3929. No objective


He has taken various training courses, including those at Mercer

County Community College, and since 1995 has been studying the


development curriculum at Landmark Education Corporation in Edison.

In 1995, after being director of library services for Gallup &


house manager for McCarter Theater, and a manager at Alchemist &


restaurant, Hartshorn became an independent contractor for


same-day delivery.

Both P.J. Dempsey of Morgan Mercedes and Niels Nielsen of Princeton

Management Consultants agree that Hartshorn needs some strong


direction. "There is no indication of what kind of employment

he would qualify for," says Nielsen. "He should get career

counseling and a degree, based on the counseling, perhaps by getting

life experience portfolio credits at Thomas Edison State College."

"His objective is way too vague," says Dempsey. "A company

seeing this would say, `So what does this guy want to do?’ He should

go to a career counselor and discover that and work with that. It

is hard for companies to understand that people want to be hired when

they have businesses."

"Someone who has been on his own, making his own decisions, can

be a tough guy to supervise," says Nielsen.

"He can talk about what he has done in business that made him

successful, how he goes about marketing and invoicing," says


She suggests stretching out the restaurant experience, now listed

as "supervised personnel, inventory, and operation" and using

each as a bullet item.

Top Of Page
Patricia Jackson

Patricia Jackson, Lawrenceville, 609-936-0787.


director of utilization management or manager of quality improvement.

Jackson has an RN and a BS in nursing and has certifications

in Total Quality Management and Certified Risk Manager. She has had

staff nurse positions from 1973 to 1979, three quality assurance


from 1985 to 1995, director of quality improvement at HIP Health Plan

of New Jersey (1995-’96), manager of quality improvement at Prudential

HealthCare (1996-’97), and director of utilization management


at Pinnacle Health Enterprises in Somerset.

The resume is too long, the type size is too small, and the


should be shortened, says Humes.

Susan Guarneri also objects to what she calls "brick wall


as well as to a "too small" typeface, underlining, and bold

face. She recommends changing Jackson’s extensive job descriptions.

Her Prudential and HIP jobs show good accomplishments, Guarneri says,

"Edit them and make them bullet items with quantifiers." For


Developed four population-based clinical quality improvement

studies for this network model HMO serving 600,000 members in five


Designed quality improvement activities for this HMO’s 17 health

centers serving 208,000 members including a provider network serving

27,000 members statewide.

Marlene Devlin of Cittone says Jackson should omit the earlier

jobs. "Most stuff going back that far doesn’t have any relevance

in today’s environment."

Top Of Page
Garnett Thompkins

Garnett Thompkins, North Brunswick, 732-545-8492.


"Seeking a challenging and responsible position where seven years

of purchasing experience enables me to" etc.

Thompkins has a temporary job as


service representative for Church & Dwight, but in California had

worked as a material controller coordinator, purchasing agent for

a medical center, and has had other jobs as assistant warehouse


and a supply specialist for a Naval Supply Center. He gives complete

job descriptions for some of these jobs — as many as 20 lines

— and has a three-line objective.

"On the plus side, this is a good resume for purchasing and


planners and is good for more than one type of position," says

Bill Grober of Crossroads Personnel. "But with five or six or

10 bullets for each job, it is extremely repetitious."

"He should eliminate the objective unless it is structured for

a particular job," say Rhodia’s HR people. "Include an


summary or overview highlighting selected achievements, and limit

these achievements to those that are job related. Summarize the work

experience — it should be only two or three lines, and eliminate

the irrelevant educational references, including certifications and

high school diploma."

"With his background, he might be better off with a functional

resume," says Elizabeth Hinds, vice president of ETS. "He

is pretty much on the track for warehousing support."

She notes that Thompkins changes from paragraphs to bullet points

in the middle, and that both read too much like job descriptions.

Many companies have decentralized purchasing "and that could be

why he is having a hard time finding a job, because purchasing is

part of another job. If purchasing agent is what he is looking for,

build on that, and drop some things that don’t relate to that,"

says Hinds. "Just the way he put this resume together speaks to

his being an individual contributor not a management level person,

and I think he should target manufacturing."

Top Of Page
Kenneth Turi

Kenneth Michael Turi, Box 441, New Hope, PA 18938,


Turi was a civil servant who left the treadmill to open a home


business and a bed and breakfast in Lambertville. Now he wants to

reenter the job market. Objective: manager or supervisor in

education, government, or nonprofit entity.

"Turi needs to try to understand exactly what type of work

he wants to do," says Bert Newton of ETS. "If he wants to

be in a technical area, he should go to Cittone, DeVry, or Brick to

get some courses under his belt so he will know what kind of work

he wants to get in."

Robert Humes suggests that Turi is a prime example of someone who

should use a functional format. "It allows an individual with

a diverse background to capitalize and highlight the


Guarneri thinks that duties now listed in paragraph form could be

bullet points with examples of accomplishments. One he does list is

that, as senior buyer for the state treasury department, he


advertised bid transactions for contracts totaling in excess of $75

million." She would like to see similar specifics for his other

jobs — contract administrator for the state labor department,

public administrator for Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders,

and community service officer for the state department of community


She notes that as an entrepreneur Turi purchased, restored, and sold

nine properties. "This is the meat!" she exclaims. "Tell

me more about the profit made. Tell not just how you did it, but was

it successful."

Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

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

Facebook Comments