By: Colin Daymude
I my job searches I actually received the majority of my interviews without ever submitting a resume or application.
Here's an interesting story that many of you will likely be able to relate to. When I lost my business and started acting like every other desperate job seeker, I did all the things that the media tells you to do.
* I formatted my resume for different industries
* I condensed it to one page
* I paid resume services (high and low end) to broadcast my resume to literally thousands of recruiters nationwide.
* I put my resume on every job board I could find
I figured that if I sent thousands of resumes and literally NO ONE responded then the obvious conclusion was that my resume just wasn't right even though I knew from personally looking at thousands of resumes that I was on target. You and I know that job searching is a humiliating and degrading process. And when you are beat down then you naturally start to look internally and question yourself; even when you are the expert.
That's the power of the media and external forces.
So here's what I did:
* I hired a professional contract resume writer (crazy I know since I'm the expert)
* I got three different formats (for different job descriptions I was interested in)
* Matching cover letters were also included
* Then I repeated the process of sending my resume out to numerous job postings and recruiters.
What? How could that be? Now I was getting a little suspicious. Were there evil forces working against me? Was some crazed IT guy searching for my resume and deleting it? Was someone taking hard copies from my mail box? Of course none of that is true but you start to get a little crazy don't you?
At this point I decided to try a little experiment. Here's what I did:
* I made up resumes and backgrounds to exactly match job descriptions that were posted for open positions.
* Perfect education, perfect experience level, perfect everything
Now I had the answer, the answer I was looking for all along. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me, my resume, my experience, my age, my social media status etc. There was something wrong with the system.
And when there is something wrong with the system then there is very little you can do about it except learn the issues and find work-arounds. And that's exactly what I did. And the results were immediate. How could I have been so stupid? I mean I knew the system and I was falling into the same trap as every other person who didn't have a clue how it worked.
So why is it that your resume can be a barrier to you getting the work you love and the money you want?
There are two reasons:
One: If you rely on your resume to get you an interview than it is in itself a barrier. You won't be doing all the really important things that you should be doing to get you the interview. As more people are unemployed and looking for a job, there are many, many more resumes for recruiters to sort through. That greatly reduces your odds. So never think of your resume as a way to get in the front door.
Of course there are a lot of resume writers that will tell you otherwise. That's because they want to sell you a package that includes writing custom industry specific and targeted resumes. These packages can range from $75 to close to $1000 if you chose a cover letter to go along with each resume.
Here's the deal: I will tell you that you need to ensure that your resume meets a few specific criteria but beyond that it is not a factor in getting you an interview. But never rely on your resume to get your foot in the door; it is irrelevant.
Two: You can't necessarily get a job just by a resume but you can LOSE a job just by a resume. Does that make sense? In other words there is a minimum standard that you need to adhere to but beyond that your resume is insignificant.
These are the items that you need to be cautious about when drafting your resume.
* Do use correct spelling (don't use spell check, get a proof reader)
* Do keep it as condensed as possible without leaving out critical keywords (especially if you are in a more technical position)
* Do use correct grammar
* Do always be honest as a good interviewer will cross reference your resume, application and references
* Do make it "scan-able" so the interviewer gets the general idea without working too hard
* Do include specific results-everyone has them, I don't care what position you had
* Do include current email and cell number
* Don't go back more than 3-5 jobs and 10-12 years unless you have a specific reason as being at the same company for numerous years
* Don't include a bunch of fluff-stick to the facts and details
* Don't include personal information or personal dates
* Don't get "cute", keep it simple and professional. You can let your personality show through later.
Enough said-your resume doesn't get you the interview, you do.
Companies don't hire resumes, they hire people.
Your blog on the disproportionate faith we place in the resume as a job-clinching tool strikes a familiar chord with my colleague and me. We have spent an inordinate amount of time re-writing, fine-tuning and tailoring our resumes for specific positions, according to sometimes conflicting advice from various “experts”, each touting the absolute merits/successes of his methods, that we failed to focus sufficient effort on the real task — circumventing the so-called “flawed” system.
Whereas you highlight the resume errors that can lead one to LOSE a job, you offer just fleeting mention of the need to “learn the issues and find work-arounds”. We would welcome your input on which approach finally worked best for you. We suspect a combination of tactics: networking, marketing letters and inside company contacts.