Resumes Are Dead


So I was reading a blog entry from a renowned, national career advice expert on resume writing. This individual (who I am sure makes her money from headhunting, advertising, and high-level executive career counseling) proclaimed that resumes don’t get jobs. Here’s the quote:

“These days, 8 out 10 resumes aren’t even seen by human eyes. Most online applicants never get a shot at the job they apply to. Why? 80%+ of all jobs filled today can be attributed to referrals. Someone inside the organization refers the candidate that gets hired. Hiring a referral is a lot easier than going blurry-eyed reviewing hundreds of online applicants. Plus, the referral makes them more credible, as compared to an online applicant nobody has worked with.”

“More credible.” Hmmm…so this implies that if I apply online, I’m clearly not credible. Like spam, or porn, I’m just some magical digitally enhanced cyber-product released onto the World Wide Web from somewhere in Thailand. Interesting.

First, I would like to address networking and referrals. Yes, having a referral always helps. But this advice is not always sound. I had a friend who asked an individual from the organization she was looking to get into to join her for a cup of coffee to chat about her career direction…there wasn’t even a specific job posting available. The person furiously responded that she couldn’t “bribe her” into a job with coffee and that it was inappropriate to ask…total backfire. Not only should networking be subtle, but in New Mexico particularly employers have a significant sensitivity to nepotism and favors. Rightly so. Network for the sake of networking. Join organizations and associations, volunteer, etc. in lines of work that you are interested in…the networking will be there for you when the time comes and you will not have to overtly wear a sign around your neck that says “I need a job!”

Second, yes it’s true that resumes aren’t always seen by human eyes. Some large employers use filtering systems that identify key words in your resume to determine your eligibility. Isn’t this even more reason to ensure that your resume is optimized to use preeminent key words and dependable formatting?

Notice I emphasize SOME employers. There is no foreboding Liquid Terminator 2 out there wanting to swallow your credentials the minute you press send. In New Mexico, I can think of four MAJOR employers who use this type of filtering, and in the end those resumes will most likely fall right into the hands of the person who might want to hire you anyway. The most important jobs I was hired for was because I was skilled and my resume showed it. Not because I knew anyone. Also, you must respect their process by following job application instructions, which for most employers today is online. You aren’t going to surpass their online application because your buddy works there. You also can’t just mail a copy of your resume and expect to get hired if the job posting specifically says apply online. Thankfully, nearly every online application system I have seen also allows you to upload your resume. (Always do this in PDF format.)

Third, career advisors like to say applying blindly online won’t get you hired. What won’t get you hired is not having a solid job search plan and having a horrible resume. I promise you…I have seen too many resumes while serving on search committees from people with incredible talent and experience full of grammatical errors. Why is it a big deal? Because if I am taking time out of my work day to review your and 50 other credentials, you should probably show me you care by ensuring that this one little piece of paper is impeccable because the other 49 probably did. Honor people’s time. What’s a job search plan? I will talk more about that next week.

Bottom line- a resume is a tool. Yes, it will not be the one factor that gets you hired, just like your looks. And if they are hiring you just on your looks, you probably don’t want to work there. From my 15+ years of experience on both sides of the conference table, the hiring process is much like a good relationship. You must have the same values and direction; you are bringing a past full of expertise that is going to solve your future employer’s specific need. They will also need to fill yours (pay, benefits, location, etc.).  But a plumber can’t show up without a wrench to fix the sink, even if he is the world’s best plumber. The worst plumber in the world can show up with all the best tools and still suck.

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