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Resume [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2008, 21:39
I've been checking out some of resume books and I see applicants (in their first jobs) write stuff like "led cost saving process which led to $20m in savings" ... does this seem realistic to you? If the applicant of part of a team that undertook the cost saving initiative then it makes sense, but honestly, which company would give a guy straight out of university responsibility for a $20m cost saving opportunity?
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2008, 22:02
I hate to point out the obvious, and my response doesn't really answer the real question you are asking, but if it's something that is listed on a resume, then the company which provided this opportunity will be listed right there.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2008, 23:25
BSchoolorBust wrote:
I've been checking out some of resume books and I see applicants (in their first jobs) write stuff like "led cost saving process which led to $20m in savings" ... does this seem realistic to you? If the applicant of part of a team that undertook the cost saving initiative then it makes sense, but honestly, which company would give a guy straight out of university responsibility for a $20m cost saving opportunity?



Yes, I have also noticed that. I am an international, so when researching US schools I went through some CV books and realized that there might be one of three reaons

1. US companies provide big responsibilities very early

2. The schools select mostly the ( upwardly) outliers, or

3. In US B-Schools, people are more aggressive in writing achievements in CVs
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 03:14
Pelihu - actually my question regarding "what company" is a rhetorical one ... I was more suggesting whether it is convention to write "led cost saving opportunity" when you led it as part of a team. Do you think this is the case?

filmcity - thanks, I'm an international too and my thoughts are similar to yours.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 04:54
You will be more than adequately trained on the etiquette and style of resume writing when in school. After something has gone through about seven or ten proof readings and challenges, it is normally true.

Also, in a big business you can save $20m pretty easily and quickly! I know my resume well, and know that the numbers are off the scale at time - I am older, and it is exactly what I did - just stated aggressively rather than passively.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 05:44
It depends, it seems that significant responsibilities have to be evaluated on a case-to-case basis.
I am an international applicant with position in government sector. Working in government sector on an emerging market I was assigned with great responsibilities almost straight out of college, just because they haven't had some other to assign such a responsibilty to. That is the advantage (and of course danger) of a transitional economy: some issues have to be resolved, some changes are to be made - go there and do your best, if you are a fast learner you will get the promotion in a matter of months, if you are not you will quit that position. That is how some international applicants have such a great resumes.
Of course, it is much harder to make an excellent career advancement before 30 if you are in New York and you are working for some global financial institution (small player in the huge orchestra). How much impact can you make on the organization of Merill Lynch or something like that when you are 25? Yeah right... On the other hand, one could work for a Ministry of Finance of, for example, Azerbejan or Moldova and become leader of the team that is responsible for implementation of Basel II or IFRS or some other significant project at the age of 25-26. That way, one is obliged to push forward, to be creative, proactive and who knows what else or to quit the job.
Which of the two do the adcoms preffer? Who knows... I hope the later because that is something I will exploit heavily in my essays.
Of course, this is also true of some applicant from USA who worked in a small company but made significant impact, pushed forward and became true leader. It seems like an ethernal question: small company - big impact or large company with no impact...
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 06:57
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Also, people stretch the truth.

Resume: Responsible for $20 mil. in cost savings, Actual: Coworker saved my butt by showing how I would have blown $20 mil. because I made a huge accounting error

Resume: Lead-managed an initial public offering for a global agricultural conglomerate, Actual: Photo copied and binded the pitch books for a 3rd world rice farm offering

Resume: Led a $2 mil. strategic marketing effort for a Fortune 500 company that used new mediums to target Gen. Y , Actual: Wrote on all my Facebook friend's walls about how drunk I was last night and shouldn't have gone home with that guy
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 10:40
You sure you want to do an MBA, jb32? I already see you have a very rewarding career in PR ahead of you.

jb32 wrote:
Also, people stretch the truth.

Resume: Responsible for $20 mil. in cost savings, Actual: Coworker saved my butt by showing how I would have blown $20 mil. because I made a huge accounting error

Resume: Lead-managed an initial public offering for a global agricultural conglomerate, Actual: Photo copied and binded the pitch books for a 3rd world rice farm offering

Resume: Led a $2 mil. strategic marketing effort for a Fortune 500 company that used new mediums to target Gen. Y , Actual: Wrote on all my Facebook friend's walls about how drunk I was last night and shouldn't have gone home with that guy
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 17:39
jb32 wrote:
Also, people stretch the truth.

Resume: Responsible for $20 mil. in cost savings, Actual: Coworker saved my butt by showing how I would have blown $20 mil. because I made a huge accounting error

Resume: Lead-managed an initial public offering for a global agricultural conglomerate, Actual: Photo copied and binded the pitch books for a 3rd world rice farm offering

Resume: Led a $2 mil. strategic marketing effort for a Fortune 500 company that used new mediums to target Gen. Y , Actual: Wrote on all my Facebook friend's walls about how drunk I was last night and shouldn't have gone home with that guy


LOL! I actually think this post is right on...there's many ways one can 'stretch' the truth of their claims in similar ways as this...
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 25 Aug 2008, 18:03
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Not sure if I am missing the point, but it seems you guys are limiting the situations.

For example, a $20 million dollar savings would be possible for a single individual working at a chemical plant. Well I could see these savings at really any process manufacturing plant. Maybe not to the extent of $20 million, but really high dollars.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 02:52
Hi all, just checked the resume book again:

(1) The $20m cost saving was in Proctor and Gamble
(2) I see a lot of ex-bankers write "executed $2bn+ of transactions in retail sector" or "led $200m IPO in China" (from banks such as Lehmans and UBS)

Anyway, I asked my ex-manager (MBA from M7) about this and he said it was pretty much all exaggeration / resume etiquette ... eg. people say "led" when they mean "led as part of a team".

This makes sense to me because in my experience no bulge bracket bank is going to let a junior Analyst, Associate or even VP lead a deal. It's an insult to the client! The company I used to work for used investment banking services quite frequently, and we would be downright furious if our deal lead wasn't a high ranking MD, given the fees that we were charged.

We also went through a cost cutting exercise a few years ago. Again, this was led by a very, very senior staff member. I find it hard to believe that cost cutting is as easy as some have suggested (except for the Government agency situation as Pathfinder mentioned). When we went through our own cost cutting exercise, it was not an easy process. Division or General Managers get quite angry when you cut their budget. To have a junior guy go up to a DM or GM and say "hey I'm only 28 but I am going to review your budget because I think you can cut $5m out of it" is just asking for trouble. Haha, I can just see my old GM now ... the dude had an extremely short-temper and I think he would have murdered anyone but a Director telling him he had to cut his budget.

Anyway, my point is that while it is great to get these leadership roles as a junior or mid level guy, I would seriously question the quality of a company's senior management if they actually let their junior staff do this.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 04:20
BSchoolorBust, this is a good topic. I have wondered the same thing myself when I have looked through resume books. No doubt there may be some folks with such great experience, but a few have probably stretched the truth at least a bit. The question is - how can they credibly respond to questions they are asked in an interview? I know if I were to put something on my resume I'm not quite sure how much I had an impact on, it would be obvious to the interviewer - I'm not very good at talking my way through stuff.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 04:43
Hello hsampath,

I think it is common to say "led cost saving initiative" when you really mean "with my team, led cost saving initiative". At least it is in the US from what I am told. I think jb32 hit the nail on the head with his post.

But I know what you mean. Even though I'm told this is etiquette for resumes in the US, I'm a little uncomfortable writing my resume so aggressively. Because in my experience cost cutting is a serious, serious process - I mean, people are losing their jobs! In fact, when my old company did our cost cutting, two DMs and three GMs resigned because they were furious that their budgets had been slashed (can you imagine how many more would resign if the cost cuts were led by a middle manager?). Four of them went to our competitors. To be perfectly honest, the cost cuts we implemented were not good for us in the long-run. Although it gave us a decent saving immediately, it resulted in our company not being prepared for the economic growth that came soon after, and as a result our market share plunged from 35% to 25%. So, in my experience a reputable company would give a cost cutting initiative to a very, very senior person who is able to balance the short-term benefits vs the long-term strategic impacts. This can't be done by a middle manager, no matter how talented he or she it. It is usually done by either the CFO or the no. 2 to the CFO, and will have the explicit support of the CEO.

I know it doesn't really answer your question which is: "What should I write in my resume so I stand out but at the same time don't bend the truth?" I'm still debating that myself. Another way to look at it is this: if people asked you whether you led the cost saving initiative, you can always say that you "led it as part of a team" and you wouldn't be lying.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 05:49
In some cases, people spin their roles to sound more impressive; in others, they actually did what they are writing about :) I think it also depends on the industry/role you have. For me, I work in a healthcare IT firm where I've been fortunate enough to have roles where I am the person in charge of a team of 6-10.

So it is possible to have 20-somethings do this kind of stuff :-D
Now if I was in banking or consulting, I don't think I'd be able to do much of that at my age/experience level. I imagine the experts on the forum can tell us more about that...

Last edited by isa on 27 Aug 2008, 07:15, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 16:46
I have been reading here that people spin/exaggerate stories. How do they get away with that? I have been told that schools have a good verification process in place where they check every detail on your resume. I have been so cautious that I am actually writing what I did (even though it may not be as impressive).
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 17:00
aakashganga wrote:
I have been reading here that people spin/exaggerate stories. How do they get away with that? I have been told that schools have a good verification process in place where they check every detail on your resume. I have been so cautious that I am actually writing what I did (even though it may not be as impressive).


Schools don't verify every detail of the job responsibilities listed on your resume. It is too cost prohibitive. They verify you were employed where you said you were and maybe if you were actually involved in the activities you said you were, but that's pretty much it as far as professional requirements.

As evidenced by the famous Irishman George O'Leary, NEVER lie on your resume, but at the same time people do try and make things sound as impressive as possible. It's up to you how agressive you want to be with your past job responsibilities. I would personally play them up, but not to the point where anything is untrue.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 17:05
I think part of it is just that some people are more confident (perhaps arrogant). It's probably natural that they exaggerate.

I think people have different ideas of saving or at least they take credit for it differently.

If you prevent an expenditure that wasn't in the previous budget, did you really save anything? I would call that doing your job, but others might call it a savings. It might still be important, but it seems like cost prevention and cost savings are two different things (and as was mentioned below, cost prevention could be a result of something dumb that you yourself did) If you got super lucky and the cost of raw materials went down, can you take credit for that savings? I don't think so, but I'll bet people do.

I've seen resumes for people I work with and in my opinion they don't accurately represent what they do, but maybe I'm just too modest. Maybe jb32 can re-write my resume, he seems to have plenty of ideas on how to spice things up.
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Re: Resume [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2008, 17:10
I think a lot of it putting their experience in the best light. It's not lying and it's not stretching the truth, it's just putting it into perspective.

For example, I've worked on a number of manufacturing processes where my own personal efforts have prevented a problem from costing as much as it could have (you're comparing your result to an unknown). For example, if I solved a problem in one week instead of two, then I successfully reduced the cost of the problem by 50% and like others have said, in manufacturing the $$$ add up quickly.

I think it's kinda funny actually. I read these resume books of people in other industries and think "WOW!! That's so impressive!". Then I read them from people in my own industry and think "Big deal, everyone does that!". So keep in mind that your own lack of understanding about what other people do can make their tasks seem much more impressive than they really are.

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Re: Resume   [#permalink] 26 Aug 2008, 17:10
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