Write a Resume to Win a Job

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(Credit: KQED/Myrow)

With unemployment in California resolutely stuck around 12.4%, I offer this tidbit from Craig Palmquist, manager of the NUMMI Reemployment Center in Fremont.  He's managed a number of similar centers around the country.

Palmquist says a lot of people go into the search for a new job still stuck in the mindset of their old job.

"You give me any job title you have, and I can help you define 200 or 300 different skills you have right now, and jobs you can apply to."

For instance, Palmquist worked a "huge" layoff with miners back in Arizona. One skeptical guy challenged him in disbelief. "I mixed reagents." Palmquist had no idea what that meant, but he pressed the guy for details. "OK, walk me through a day."

  • Read gauges and dials
  • Adjusted chemical levels
  • Moved drums and sacks of chemicals with a forklift
  • Maintained inventory of chemicals

You get the idea. So this guy can be a bartender, Palmquist says, or work in a photo lab, or a hospital lab, or for a utility company.

"Forklift operator, inventory control," says Palmquist. "Don't write on an application to a new company that you mixed reagents. They're going to look at that and ask 'What the hell is that?' Every resume, every application, for every job, has to be specifically tailored, written in the vernacular of the new employer."

If you're job hunting, post your stories about resumes that got you in the door for an interview...and why.

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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