A colleague recently interviewed a jobseeker who brought 35 years of experience as an aircraft mechanic to the job. This, one would think, was terrific, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because his expertise would make him highly desirable. No, because if all he was selling was his expertise, he was going to blend in with the woodwork.
This client could disassemble and reassemble a Sikorsky helicopter in his sleep. He knew all about Airbus A320, Boeing 707, 727,737, 747 and 757ER aircraft, as well as the Jetstream, Lockheed L-188, L1011 MD88 and MD11. His resume was filled with references to his having performed A, B, C, D, and phase checks. He’d done line maintenance coupled with expertise troubleshooting. Disassembled, repaired, installed variety subassemblies on diverse aircrafts. Rigged flight controls. And he’d performed systems operational and functional checks.
But where was he in all this?
Nowhere in that resume was there any reason given why an employer should choose him over any other aircraft mechanic with 35 years of experience. His resume was all knowledge and no performance. Did he assume responsibility for his work, regardless whether or not the job title called for it? Did he work specifically on difficult or large-scale projects?
Did he hold secret security clearance? Was he chosen to travel to other locations to take on specific assignments? Did he show any awareness that people’s lives depended on his doing the work right the first time? Or did his jobs all have to be done over by someone else?
Your resume needs so much more than simply your expertise. The employer, after all, already knows what an aircraft mechanic is supposed to do. But what the employer is looking for is that employee who stood out from the rest, whose work showed that extra “something” that made it special. That employer wants accomplishments, not mere duties.
Consider these items taken from one jobseeker’s resume:
Fixed wing aircraft:
Hanger maintenance. Performed A, B, C, D and phase checks. Line maintenance coupled with expertise troubleshooting electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems and documenting discrepancies. Disassembled, repaired, installed variety subassemblies on diverse aircrafts. Rigging flight controls. Systems operational & functional checks
Rotor wing aircraft:
Assemble and install 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stage mechanical systems, including engines, transmission, fuel and subassemblies, coordinate and install A/C, EMS oxygen, and cargo hook systems. Perform structural as required.
This person thought these items were important, and in the scheme of things they are. But all the candidate gave here is a job description. The description tells us nothing about the person doing the work. It tells us nothing about his performance, and gives an employer no reason at all to choose him over any other experienced mechanic.
Here’s what he might have said:
- I was recruited as team leader for new helicopter modification project, overseeing seven assemblers tasked with performing line maintenance and troubleshooting of electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems and documenting discrepancies. This team won awards for quickest turnover with zero defects.
- Developed a new aileron for the Flying Shoe that won the company a $2.5 million production contract.
- Earned a reputation as the company expert at assembling and installing first, second and third stage mechanical systems, including engines, transmission, fuel and subassemblies.
- Held top-secret security clearance, traveling extensively to sites in Guam, American Samoa, Thailand and Morocco to perform emergency repairs to such components as A/C, EMS oxygen, and cargo hook systems.
- Earned a reputation for doing the job right the first time; I was frequently brought in to correct the mistakes of others.
This second version not only places the job seeker in the resume, it shows why he made an impact at his previous employer. It shows why he was special, and gives the prospective employer a reason to put his resume into the “yes” pile.
Against an average of 400 other resumes for the same position, your resume needs much more than expertise. It needs you. Try it!