Who knows? Maybe the money isn’t worth the hassle.
Santa Fe County Manager Roman Abeyta resigned last month amid a widening criminal investigation into apparent favors granted to politically generous contractor Advantage Asphalt. Abeyta’s replacement will be expected to repair the county’s reputation while coming up with more than $6 million in budget cuts or new taxes.
Last week, SFR reviewed 180 pages of résumés, cover letters and reference lists from the approximately two dozen applicants to replace Abeyta as county manager. Most of the applications could use some work. With help from a four-page tip sheet for job seekers produced by the state Department of Workforce Solutions, SFR offers this list of dos and don’ts for would-be county managers.
DO: Emphasize relevant experience.
Especially when applying for a leadership spot at a troubled organization, show how you can help steer a new course. For instance, lawyer John B Hiatt’s résumé highlights his long experience as a fraud investigator, and notes his past chairmanship of the National White Collar Crime Center.
Likewise, former Santa Fe Police Department officer Daniel J Gonzales mentions that his private investigative work includes backgrounding government contractors.
And Santo Domingo Tribal Housing Authority Executive Director Charles Rodney England writes the following: “Before [I was] hired, the Department of HUD was considering taking over operations, and the Office of the Inspector General was investigating former board and former director for embezzlement, however, the office was turned around…”
DON’T: Raise questions you’re not prepared to answer.
New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Katherine Miller may be the most high-profile candidate for Abeyta’s old job, although she hasn’t formally applied for the position (two county commissioners nominated her). Miller’s four-page résumé suggests she has a good deal of experience navigating the revolving door.
Her first listed job is as a contract negotiator for the US Air Force. Then she became a contractor for the Air Force. Then she took a higher-level procurement job with the Defense Department. Then she went back to the private sector as a contract negotiator for Anstec Inc. on a “$40 million weapons system program.”
And after all that, she became Santa Fe County’s finance director and procurement manager in 1997, before moving on to bigger jobs with Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration, itself racked by a series of pay-to-play scandals.
DO: Proofread, proofread, proofread!
That squiggly red line in Microsoft Word sure is helpful, but for something as important as a résumé, running spell-check isn’t enough. A second or third look can avoid embarrassing mistakes.
“CORPORATE AND PUBLIC BUSINESS LEADER” Edward Gil de Rubio commits many crimes against proper English usage and the elements of design in his résumé—beginning on his cover letter, where he signs his own name twice.
Santa Fe Community College Vice President Thomas A Romero’s excessively wordy résumé is full of typographical errors, including two in one sentence.
DON’T: Tell your life story.
Perhaps the worst offender in this crop of candidates is Peter Merrill, a construction mediator, who opens his résumé by apologizing for its length. A former Rio Rancho sports bar owner, Merrill writes, “I am quite familiar with the regulations and laws related to owning a restaurant and the serving of alcoholic beverages.” He goes on to cite his past presidency of “the NY Tri-State Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association,” an organization for which he became the “First ever Honorary Life Member.”
“I am proud to be an Eagle Scout,” Merrill goes on. “I have been awarded the Silver Beaver Award which is the highest Boy Scout Council Award that an adult can receive.” Also, “I have a collection of over 200 kachina dolls and I have a wonderful collection of bolo ties (which I hope to wear to work as SF County Manager).” And, as an aside: “I do not drink alcohol or smoke and never have.”
DON’T: Insult your prospective bosses.
Here’s Merrill, again: “I feel that bringing in a new County Manager who has no ties to anyone in the county organization…will be of great benefit… Please don’t get the opinion that I am an impersonal individual… I just don’t have the ‘baggage’ that many county employees might be ‘perceived’ to have.”
Less awkwardly but more emphatically, Eileen G Gorman, a chemist and business owner, writes, “Santa Fe County is in need of NEW LEADERSHIP!”
DON’T: Include your transcript from an online university.
It could do more harm than good. Despite his respectable 3.7 grade-point average, Gonzales’ transcript shows a C in algebra.
DO: Get to the point.
General contractor Philip J Rael explains why he’s looking for a new job thusly: “The economical environment we are in is very difficult to stay in business.” Points for brevity and honesty. (Unfortunately, “economical” is incorrect.)
In contrast, John H Windham, a “Successful, Eclectic, Visionary, Compassionate Executive,” succumbs to the worst kind of managerspeak. His résumé says he “Turned around an ISO9000 Company with a standardized cookie-cutter approach to manufacture 95% of like systems, employing a snowflake or individualized approach for the other 5%, justifying a price increase and doubling end user product sales almost overnight[.]”
DON’T: Start a cover letter by making excuses.
Workforce Solutions Labor Relations Division Director and former Albuquerque City Clerk Francie Cordova made this mistake: “I apologize that the application form is handwritten,” she writes, “but my computer does not have the Adobe 7 PDF capability.”
DO: Know what job you’re applying for.
Graphic designer Aryeh Swisa, who has worked for both SFR and the Santa Fe New Mexican, boasts extensive knowledge of difficult-to-master software. Unfortunately, he doesn’t list any experience that has anything to do with running Santa Fe County.
DON’T: Take credit for failures.
Troy D Fernandez, a rehab program director for OptumHealth and former deputy secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, notes his service on the board of Santa Fe 400th Anniversary Inc. Consider that he and the other board members have had four years and $1.3 million to plan the celebration, but have successfully staged only a handful of money-losing events [News, Aug. 26, 2009: “Years Late, $ Short”]. As of July 2, the 400th website listed “‘Something SF400’ at the Railyards” as its July 4 event.
Similarly, Santa Fe County Community Services Director Joseph Gutierrez’ résumé says he “facilitated the process to start the design and construction of the new 1st Judicial Building.” Since the new courthouse was located on a tract of contaminated land, perhaps this isn’t an accomplishment worth highlighting?