Writing a Resume for a Logistics Career during a Recession

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The following article discusses the various sections that should appear on every logistics resume, providing advice regarding each. It also covers several mistakes logistics job seekers must be careful to avoid when crafting their resumes.

As the manager of a logistics company, I spend a considerable amount of time evaluating logistics resumes with the aim of finding the best candidates. Though this might seem like a simple task, I cannot begin to describe how complicated and frustrating it can become. It is no surprise that most job seekers looking for employment in the logistics job market today have extended searches for work.

A good resume is one of the most important advantages you can be equipped with; after all, your resume is your introduction to the hiring manager. According to the book Proven Resumes: Strategies That Have Increased Salaries and Changed Lives by Regina Pontow, the attention span of a logistics manager who receives any given resume typically lasts no longer than 30 seconds. Thus, it is extremely important that you, the job seeker, put forth your best effort in representing yourself.

Furthermore, according to a recent survey of thousands of hiring authorities, nine out of 10 resumes will simply be inappropriate for the job in question, says Joyce Lain Kennedy in Resumes for Dummies. That fact could leave you with an even narrower margin of error when it comes to demonstrating that you will be a perfect fit.

So we can describe the situation this way: 90% of candidates will be rejected immediately based on their resumes; of the 10% left over, only two may actually be called for interviews; and out of those two, only one will be the correct match for the job.

Over the years I’ve discussed this topic with many logistics hiring managers. When it comes to making that first impression, it doesn’t matter how great a job seeker is. If the resume is insufficient, he or she risks losing his or her chance at landing that dream job.

The majority of resumes turned down after they’ve been reviewed by hiring managers are rejected due to false information, lack of documentation of achievements, poor use of language or spelling mistakes, or missing summaries or cover letters. The hiring manager reviewing your resume will likely be concerned with the survival of the company during tough times, so he or she will only want to bring on people he or she is absolutely sure will contribute to making that possible.

The logistics industry, being concerned with shipping goods, is directly and immediately impacted by every turn the economy takes, according to Arthur D. Rosenberg’s The Resume Handbook: How to Write Outstanding Resumes and Cover Letters for Every Situation. You can expect that if the economy is in a bad state, whatever logistics firm you are seeking employment with has likely already felt the effects.

A logistics resume typically includes an objective as well as sections discussing your experience, work history, and education. Particularly during a recession, the point of your resume is to present yourself in a light that demonstrates incredible success. Here are short explanations of the sections that should be included in your new, more effective logistics resume:

How to Compose an Objective Statement for Your Logistics Resume

An objective statement provides you with a chance to explain your goals. Be specific and concise, and use action words that accurately describe where you want to take your career. You need to be certain that you clearly state what you are seeking and why you are the best candidate for the position.

How to Describe Your Experience on a Logistics Resume

In creating the experience portion of your resume, it’s very important that you pay careful attention to its format. Although logistics experience commonly is presented in a list format, you may want to create an attractive table to present your relevant skills and expertise.

Falsifying information is always a bad idea, but be particularly careful regarding accuracy in writing this particular section. Most hiring managers will use it during the interview, asking you specific questions about what they find written here. They will want to learn all they can about your experiences in all related jobs you have held.

In the book Strategic Logistics Management, James R. Stock and Douglas M. Lambert recommend focusing on job experience that is pertinent to logistics tasks, such as experience dealing with shipping schedules and customs or other transportation industry concerns.

How to Describe Your Work History on a Logistics Resume

Creating a concise and clear listing of your work history will highlight important areas for the hiring manager. In this section the hiring manager will read about your experience, skills, periods of unemployment, stability, goals, and motivation. This section will also demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively to others in a report because your resume is a report about yourself.

How to Describe Your Education on a Logistics Resume

There is always a question about where (or if) your education should be placed on your resume. This is something you will have to decide for yourself based on the formal education you have and how relevant it is to logistics. Many in logistics worked their way up through the transportation industry as drivers or warehouse staff before they began to work in offices, according to Leonard Doty in the book Statistical Process Control. Not having formal education and degrees to list can definitely be made up for by relevant experience.

I recommend placing this section at the bottom of your resume. However, if you are a recent graduate or have very little experience but impressive education, it could help you to put this section at the top of your resume. It’s a good idea to list your exact GPA along with the college, university, or other school you attended.

The main focus of your studies is probably the most important factor. It’s also a good idea to include details about continued education and/or specific certifications obtained that show your motivation and dedication in this part of your logistics resume.

Labor Jobs versus Management Jobs in the Logistics Industry

I should point out that there is a distinct separation between labor jobs and management jobs in the logistics industry, so here is some focused advice for each:

For skilled laborers, such as truck drivers, longshoremen, and warehouse staff, it is most important to highlight experience, especially where your safety record is concerned, and proof of familiarity with equipment that will be used, including certifications and licenses. The good news is that high turnover and increased domestic freight importing ensure a steady flow of jobs for drivers and other skilled vehicle and machine operators.

If your goal is to obtain a high-paying trucking or warehouse job or to enter the management arena, you will need to find a way to set yourself apart in order to secure a place at the very top of the pay range. For logistics management technology and law are the two most important topics of discussion as they are the most important factors in moving almost anything anywhere. Sales experience tends to be of less importance since customer turnover is not a large factor for most in the logistics industry, although it is for those in retail.

Include as much as you can about the technology you’re experienced with and trained to use. Vehicles, tools, communications equipment, and security and tracking devices are important aspects of all logistics providers.

Mistakes to Avoid When Composing a Logistics Resume

There are several mistakes to avoid which could kill an otherwise perfect resume. For most logistics jobs on the market, the fact is that managers or their recruiters will receive dozens to hundreds of resumes, depending on the types of positions that need to be filled.

Your resume is a beacon of your professional abilities. Poorly constructed resumes with grammatical errors are immediately discarded. It’s important for a resume to have a professional appearance, and if your resume makes it possible for the hiring manager to quickly see the finer points of your qualifications, you will stand out from the competition.

Typical resume-writing mistakes include:
  • Supplying false information and/or exaggerating: Honesty is an important factor in any hiring decision. Don’t fabricate degrees. Do list training sessions, classes, and workshops you may have attended. Don’t exaggerate your qualifications, any documented achievements, or your knowledge of systems specific to the logistics industry.

  • Being too modest: For most professionals the most difficult aspect of writing a resume is self-promotion. Accordingly, job applicants may downplay their credentials and assume that the reviewer will either make assumptions or ask relevant questions about missing information in the interview. This is a mistake because you likely will not even make it to the interview stage if you’re too modest in your resume. Make sure your skills, accreditations, and achievements are clearly shown from the very beginning.

  • Supplying excessive or irrelevant information: It’s best to restrict your resume to one page. This doesn’t mean you need to use a tiny font and write long paragraphs or rambling sentences. Rambling is always a bad thing in resumes and interviews. Keep all points as clear and succinct as possible, with enough empty space on a nicely formatted page. Recruiters have many candidates to consider and don’t have time to read long paragraphs. They also don’t need to know about every aspect of your life, such as what pets you have and where you go to church — speaking of which, don’t mention anything that reveals your religious or political background; it’s not relevant (unless you plan on providing logistics support for churches or politicians).

  • Using a sloppy or amateurish format: The old adage ''You can’t judge a book by its cover'' doesn’t apply to resumes. The first impression created by your resume’s format will set the tone for the reviewer. Your resume should be attractive and nicely formatted for easy reading. Consider using a format you might use when making a presentation to the top management of your company. You would not provide a long, wordy report — rather, you would show an appropriate and informative series of slides summarizing the relevant issues. Your resume should be formatted based on the same criteria while providing sufficient content to show your professional abilities.

  • Writing excessively long paragraphs or rambling, run-on sentences: Too many logistics resumes resemble prologues to dry textbooks, with needlessly wordy paragraphs and sentences. Many resumes go into far too much detail in describing responsibilities and past experiences. Some may even copy the ''job responsibilities'' blurb directly from an old human resources handbook. It’s best to summarize your past responsibilities in a few succinct sentences, then list your achievements.

  • Putting too much emphasis on length of experience: It’s fine to be proud of having had a long career and possessing all the experience, skills, life lessons, etc., that come with it. It’s also true, however unfair, that recruiters may pass over candidates who are older. This doesn’t mean you must hide your experience. Just avoid introducing yourself with a statement that draws attention to how long you’ve been in the industry. They may get the impression that it’s all you have to show for yourself — not what you did, but how long you did it for. For all they know, you may have barely been hanging in there the whole time. Impress the recruiter with your unique and varied skills and qualifications.

  • Forgetting to leave or leaving insufficient contact information: Most job seekers should list their names, email addresses, and phone numbers on their resumes at the very least. In order to protect yourself from identity thieves, never list your address on your resume if it’s going to be displayed on the web. Also, sometimes candidates post their resumes on websites anonymously without providing contact details due to carelessness, which makes a horrible first impression. This often occurs when candidates fill in registration data using only their email addresses and then copy their resumes into text fields, forgetting that they must include a way to be contacted somehow.

In composing your logistics resume, remember to include an objective as well as sections covering your experience, work history, and education (if relevant). Additionally, watch out for common pitfalls such as being too modest and placing too much emphasis on your years of experience. If you follow this advice, you should be well on your way to drafting an effective logistics resume that will help you land the job you desire.
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