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Working ✍️ Resumes/applications for low level position - review questions

Salmissra

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We have an entry/low-level position posted. I've received several resumes for this position that make me scratch my head:

1) Applicant has several years of experience with a community, rising up to Senior level. No explanation was provided as to why they want to demote themselves to this entry-level position.
2) Resume has 3 color blocks and leaves/branches down the side. Why??
3) Applicant has relevant experience but has not stayed at any one job for more than 10-12 months. I'm hesitant to interview this person - what would you do?
4) Applicant has no relevant job experience (all retail) but has appropriate degree and skills. WIll interview but why does his resume include his GPA?

I'm sure I'll add to this list as more resumes come in.

Maybe I'm just too old-school on what a resume should look like?
 

Faust_Motel

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1) Ask why. Bluntly. or google around if you want to see if you can find out. We had one like that where a quick search revealed that they were (publicly) underperforming 9 months into their last job. But sometimes there's an OK reason- moved with a spouse, burned out, willing to take the hit to have access to different opportunities. Most people worth interviewing and hiring who are like this know what it looks like and are prepared to address it.

2) I don't know. It's annoying. Are they trying to fluff things up and take up space?

3) Red flag, ask around or Google. Short stays in multiple places tells me the person has been the constant and not the workplace.

4) I used to be advised that if GPA was over 3, put it on there. I don't do that on my own resume, I think it's irrelevant at this point. I wouldn't hold it against somebody fewer than five years out from graduation though.
 

luckless pedestrian

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1) they may really want to work at your organization/municipality/firm and are willing to start over to do it - or maybe they need a reset - I would definitely ask - my current position is a demotion from previous jobs since 1999 but I love (most of the time) not being in charge

2) it's annoying - I would put them in a maybe pile

3) It is a red flag but maybe they want to find the right fit and just haven't found it so google and ask

4) we have seen many people post in here saying have the degree, but can't find a job, so I am doing this - so I would interview that person to see if they might be a good fit - they likely put their gpa as a way to say, I am not working in my field yet but I did very well in planning school!

remember, if it's an entry level position, that's code for you needing to train them a lot so I would be looking for someone that fits into your office culture, that you connected with, that has some level of humility such that they are trainable/malleable
 

mendelman

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...someone that fits into your office culture, that you connected with, that has some level of humility such that they are trainable/malleable
These are the most important factors for your evaluation process.

As for the specific questions, I say the unnecessary frills graphic design would be a turnoff for me. You're trying too hard the absolutely wrong way.
 

kms

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These are the most important factors for your evaluation process.

As for the specific questions, I say the unnecessary frills graphic design would be a turnoff for me. You're trying too hard the absolutely wrong way.
Someone looked up resume templates and that was the best option given the choices. Unless it was cartoon characters or other childish nonsense, I wouldn't judge anyone for using one.
 

Suburb Repairman

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1) Good question for the interview. I've seen this sometimes when they want to get into an organization, have a personal reason for relocating, etc.

2) I don't get worked up about this kind of resume format thing UNLESS part of their job is going to involve creating public engagement outreach documents or urban design. That's a template, and people use them when they aren't sure what to do to make their resumes look more jazzy. Now typographical errors on a resume? That's a kiss of death from me.

3) Massive red flag for heavy job hopping unless it is between industries, or perhaps between public and private or radically different employers. Worth googling though--it could just be bad luck, or they might be internships, etc. that were essentially "gigs." I knew someone with three job hops, but it was because his "toxic work/political environment" bullshit detector was not functional. He had terrible luck until he landed in a better place. He's been stable for 7 years now.

4) Lots of professors dispense bad advice about this. I was told to only include it for first relevant industry job application, and even then only if it is magna cum laude level or higher. I LOVE for entry level planners to have retail experience. It almost guarantees an interview with me. Heck, be proud of your grade (if it is something to be proud of).
 

Faust_Motel

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1) Good question for the interview. I've seen this sometimes when they want to get into an organization, have a personal reason for relocating, etc.

2) I don't get worked up about this kind of resume format thing UNLESS part of their job is going to involve creating public engagement outreach documents or urban design. That's a template, and people use them when they aren't sure what to do to make their resumes look more jazzy. Now typographical errors on a resume? That's a kiss of death from me.

3) Massive red flag for heavy job hopping unless it is between industries, or perhaps between public and private or radically different employers. Worth googling though--it could just be bad luck, or they might be internships, etc. that were essentially "gigs." I knew someone with three job hops, but it was because his "toxic work/political environment" bullshit detector was not functional. He had terrible luck until he landed in a better place. He's been stable for 7 years now.

4) Lots of professors dispense bad advice about this. I was told to only include it for first relevant industry job application, and even then only if it is magna cum laude level or higher. I LOVE for entry level planners to have retail experience. It almost guarantees an interview with me. Heck, be proud of your grade (if it is something to be proud of).
I always have entry-level applicants talk about retail. We also model a "difficult counter customer" interaction in our second-round in-person interviews.
 

Salmissra

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I firmly believe retail jobs are great for new professionals - if you can get and keep a retail job for a while, then I know that you 1) can understand and respect a schedule 2) have experience dealing with Karens 3) can understand and follow rules 4) can be a team player.

You learn other skills working in retail/hospitality that will carry over into any professional environment, but I want the applicant to tell me about it in an interview.

For an entry-level position, I expect retail and internships on a resume. I will interview you if you have related skills and degree and only retail experience. But I start to wonder why anyone puts GPA on a resume - I was always told NO NO NO. The old advice to me was only put magna or summa, not the actual number. But it looks like some of you had different advice, so I'll shelve that question for now.

Where do you all fall on the "including activities and associations that clearly indicate a race or ethnic background"? I was told NO but then . . . you all may have heard differently.
 

glutton

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1. Agree with others that it could be due to personal reasons like relocation for a spouse or wanting to move to a different city/break in to an organization. But hiring overqualified candidates will likely create issues downstream, for the candidate as well as for your existing staff; I'd ask them in the interview why they are applying for this role given their past work history.

2. It's entry level, the person is probably young, found a template and doesn't know any better. I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. That's not really a valid reason to reject them.

3. Job hopping is very common for junior level employees. It could be because they got married, it could be because advancing was taking too long, it could be due to layoff, it could be because they wanted to relocate, it could be for family reasons. There could have been racism/sexism/ableism at work. They could have been pushed out. Or it could have been multiple reasons - different one for each job. It could also be because they were discovering what aspects of planning they liked or didn't like. The point is, you don't know until you ask (and perhaps not even really then). So not worth it to make assumptions. How many jobs does this person have anyway? I can't imagine that it would be more than 3. I'd still interview and ask about the short stints.

4. Junior and entry level folks will usually write GPA and retail positions. Until 5 years I'd say it's ok.

Remember that you are hiring for an entry level role and that most applicants won't have the wisdom you do now at their age and career level. Your concerns are totally valid for more senior level positions, but please keep in mind that these are likely people in their early, mid or late twenties. Think back to that time in your life and try to remember how uncertain everything felt (and now add a pandemic and subsequent recession!).

Where do you all fall on the "including activities and associations that clearly indicate a race or ethnic background"? I was told NO but then . . . you all may have heard differently.
Really don't see why this is a problem...someone indicating they were the Vice President of the Black Student Business Fraternity, Puerto Rican Student Association, or an Indian dance team to me not only shows leadership, but also the ability to work with diverse communities, and potentially even hint at language skills. If one of your organization's goals is to increase diversity, it's a subtle way to find that diversity without having to ask about race directly. I am younger/earlier in my career and I've been told to keep it on. Of course, any college organization should be left off after a few years of graduating. But for entry level positions I'd say it's fine.

As a person of color myself, if I read Gamma Pheta Pi or [insert whatever other fraternity/sorority here], I automatically assume that's likely to be a white person. That's probably my unconscious bias showing, but I really don't see why putting Greek life down would be ok but not a more direct POC student club.

People are more than just their career choices; especially in such a public-oriented field like planning that values soft skills and transferrable skills.

Also, keep in mind that if you're getting applications from undergrads (or recent college graduates who haven't done a master's), then the undergraduate experience today is very well rounded. Most college students don't ONLY do clubs associated with their major - they are tour guides, they are resident hall advisors, they play intramural sports, they join religious clubs, they run for student government, etc. The way I see it, if medicine and medical schools can see value in non-medical activities (which they very much increasingly do), then why wouldn't planning? People come to planning from all sorts of unrelated fields and walks of life.
 
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Suburb Repairman

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Forgot to mention... for entry-level "first job" hires I typically do a short debrief on their resume and interview during their first day or two--what stood out that prompted me to interview them, things I looked for in the application, what I thought they did well on both, areas for improvement, etc. They were always shocked by it, and appreciated it.
 

mendelman

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I generally do a simple stress test of some mild water-boarding to get a baseline and then proceed from there.

:p
 

Salmissra

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A couple more resumes came in:

1) We have a winner! :omg: Comic Sans:omg: font for the activities and skills sections, and roman for the bulk of the single-page resume.

2) Another applicant used A LOT of acronyms on the resume, without explanation as to what they are. In a closer look, the applicant has a degree from a non-US university, so maybe that is the norm there? I think it'd be nice to let those of us who didn't go to college overseas know what the significance of the letters is.
 

luckless pedestrian

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Comic Sans - that is crazy

Confused Excuse Me GIF by GIPHY News
 

glutton

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Comic Sans - that is crazy

Are they an international student or a U.S. student who did their degree abroad? If the former, I'd forgive the comic sans. If the latter, well, that's a problem - even Gen Z knows not to use Comic Sans lol.

EDIT - never mind, I misread - the Comic Sans and acronym person who got their degree abroad were two different applicants.
 

Salmissra

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Got another batch Friday from HR. So far nothing too entertaining. But I do wonder about the person with 20+ years of experience and a PhD looking at an entry-level position. I will not fill this with someone trying to ease their way into retirement!!

One of our interns applied. His resume looks good and I will definitely make time to interview him. I have not been his supervisor as an intern - he might be in for a shock!
 

luckless pedestrian

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As a 56 year old myself - it may not be easing into retirement, it might be that they are facing age discrimination on getting director level jobs that are going to 40-somethings and so they need a job to support themselves - most people have to work well into their 60's to get to a financial place where they can retire - so if they aren't a know-it-all-mansplaining-blowhard (LOL) then they might be helpful - I know for me, having a boss and then the city manager for the first time since 1999, so I am a division head and not a department head, I treat my immediate boss the way I would have wanted to be treated as a director and we have a great relationship because of it

I know #okboomer but really, give that person another look before they end up in the service industry
 

Faust_Motel

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As a 56 year old myself - it may not be easing into retirement, it might be that they are facing age discrimination on getting director level jobs that are going to 40-somethings and so they need a job to support themselves - most people have to work well into their 60's to get to a financial place where they can retire - so if they aren't a know-it-all-mansplaining-blowhard (LOL) then they might be helpful - I know for me, having a boss and then the city manager for the first time since 1999, so I am a division head and not a department head, I treat my immediate boss the way I would have wanted to be treated as a director and we have a great relationship because of it

I know #okboomer but really, give that person another look before they end up in the service industry
Don't want to age-discriminate for sure. The good thing I have found about applicants like this is they are pretty easy to Google and figure out a little about what's up. And the "coasting" vs. "motivated" will come out in an interview for sure.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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Got another batch Friday from HR. So far nothing too entertaining. But I do wonder about the person with 20+ years of experience and a PhD looking at an entry-level position. I will not fill this with someone trying to ease their way into retirement!!

One of our interns applied. His resume looks good and I will definitely make time to interview him. I have not been his supervisor as an intern - he might be in for a shock!
I have a very similar experience right now. Just seems to me that this level needs to be filled by an individual struggling to get their foot in the door or basic experience and not someone who knows the doorman intimately.
 

Salmissra

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We are about halfway through the interview process. So far 1 definite no, 2 maybes (for different reasons), and 2 "would be very nice but you want double-digit more $$$ than this position pays".

I think it's time to take a long weekend . . .
 

Salmissra

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Heading down the far stretch, we have 3 remaining interviews.

Interviewed the girl with the colors and flower/leaves border. Liked her a lot, and I did refrain from asking why she did the colors on the resume. She is very into nature/the environment, so for now, I'm going with "she wanted to show her love of nature".

I haven't had any real imaginative or creative responses to some of our standard questions. Maybe one of these last ones will provide an insightful answer . . .
 

WSU MUP Student

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I haven't had any real imaginative or creative responses to some of our standard questions. Maybe one of these last ones will provide an insightful answer . . .

Sometimes I think applicants can sense that the interview questions are themselves unimaginative and uncreative and this elicits uncreative and unimaginative responses. I understand that there is a reason why most questions are sort of standardized for all the applicants being interviewed, but there is something to be said about the delivery of the questions.

I'm not saying you have a poor delivery, but it's just something to consider.

Us non-supervisors take turns participating in interviews for positions when we have them. I've sat in with three or four different supervisors for various positions here over the years and we had one person who was always so curt and so obviously reading off a script when she would conduct interviews that you could see the applicants just start to tune out or write this place off after about the 3rd question. The best interviewer here is the head of our planning side who starts every interview with the exact same few questions, word for word, but does it in such a pleasant and conversational way that it comes off as if it were just two friends running into each other at a coffee shop. You can see it in the body language of the applicant how they just relax and give more thoughtful responses (those applicants inevitably also ask better follow-up questions).
 
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