— Rachel felt like pulling her hair out after spending 45 minutes submitting her online resume and application for a job that looked perfect for her, the 3rd she’d completed that evening.
— Mark shrugged his shoulders and shook his head in exasperation because the most recent resume feedback his sister-in-law, a “talent acquisition specialist” at a local financial services firm, gave him was just the exact opposite of what a friend’s IT recruiter advised.
— Anna, stymied about how to write a resume that positioned herself for a career change, began to despair of ever finding a career that would be a better fit.
— Ricardo’s eyes burned and the text blurred as he tweaked the wording, fonts, and format for yet another version of his resume.
— Mallory was excited to give her resume to a contact she met at a networking event but then was at a loss about if, when, and how to follow up.
— Tom applied for 47 jobs in 6 months, and had yet to be called for an interview.
Like many of us, these job seekers believe that landing a good job requires looking for openings, online and through connections, and submitting their resumes for consideration.
Relying on your resume as the primary tool in your search is, in fact, just as likely to stall, derail, or result in dead ends as it is to uncover opportunities. Why?
First, it’s impossible for a one- or two-page document to convey more than a skeletal view of you and your capabilities. At worst, it’s a lifeless list of job descriptions with your contact information at the top of the page. At best, it’s an organized presentation of accomplishments related to your job target(s).
Second, opinions abound about what makes a good resume. Ask 6 people for feedback and you’ll get 9 reactions, many diametrically opposed.
Third, most large employers now use application tracking software. No human will see your resume unless your application/resume contains the keywords, education, and experience levels specified. (See article “Your Resume vs. Oblivion” in the following section.)
Fourth, as soon as you hand over your resume to someone else, it positions you as a job supplicant. What happens next is out of your control. Readers begin to evaluate your resume in terms of a particular role, maybe even typecasting you based on your past experience, employers, or education.
The Solution: Beyond the Resume
The real value in preparing a resume is that it forces you to identify and articulate the skills and experiences you can bring to your next employer. Yes, you can still submit it with online applications, but you won’t be lulled into thinking you’re conducting your search in the most effective way.
Instead of a resume, prepare a “Targeted Opportunity Profile”: a one-page document with three sections: Contact Information; relevant Selected Achievements, and Targeted Connections (companies and people you’d like to meet with informally–not to troll for “openings”).
Then, convert 80% of your job search time and effort to tapping into the unpublished, “hidden,” job market through your connections.
This does not mean “networking” in the uncomfortable, asking-for-favors sense. It does involve recognizing and cultivating natural connections in a professional, reciprocal, and thoughtful way. No cringing and humiliation required.
Then if asked for your resume for anything other than a formal job opening, provide your Targeted Opportunities profile. It’ll help others know what you’re looking for and save you from the job-beggar mindset.
Unlike Rachel, you’ll still have your hair. Unlike Ricardo, your eyes won’t burn and your vision will be clear. And unlike Mallory, Tom, Anna, and Mark you’ll be equipped for a more productive search
♦ ♦ ♦
What Happens to Your Online Application?
“Your Resume vs. Oblivion” is an article that appeared in 2012 in the Wall Street Journal’s career section; it explains the inner workings of applicant tracking systems–what likely happens after you submit your online application and resume. Just in case you wondered…!
Although the economy has improved in the 4+ years since the article was published, the information remains accurate.
Consider a CAP (Career Action Planning) Session if you:
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results.
In this 90-120-minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it. For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the comment form on my website.