Resumes Are Dead

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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.

AFTER THE RESUME: PREPARE YOUR INTERVIEW TOOL KIT

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Ok so you have a great Fresh Milk Résumé, right? No? Well get one! THEN…prepare yourself for the great interview you are going to get with that new fresh résumé! What’s in your Interview Tool Kit?

1. Portfolio: Invest in a professional looking portfolio. It will add professionalism and class to your presentation and show your organizational skills. Think of it as the toolbox you put all the following information in!

2. Notepad and Paper: Seems simple but don’t forget a nice notepad and pen. I once forgot a pen. I was too humiliated to admit it, then stole one from a secretary’s desk when she wasn’t looking! (Walk of shame…)

3. At least one copy of your résumé: You don’t need to pass them out as your interviewer will probably already have them. BUT…you will want a copy to reference for yourself, or an extra in case its needed. Also keep a copy of the cover letter you submitted. If you are applying for many jobs, you may forget just what you submitted!

4. And speaking of the subject of résumés: Whether you have a Fresh Milk Résumé or your own fabulous creation, KNOW WHAT THE RESUME SAYS! Study it. You would be surprised how many people forget what they put or never read it closely when done by a professional (that’s me!). Much of the information in your résumé and cover letter will help you when you get stuck on the hard questions. Know it!

5. References: Again, you don’t have to pass these out but keep them on hand in case they are needed or asked for… you will look freshly prepared!

6. A list of questions: Do your research and ask some really great questions. Steer away from questions of salary and benefits, generally speaking. (Save those for the second interview or job offer.) You don’t have to ask them all but have enough so that you don’t have to worry about them all being answered in the interview as well as having enough to fill up time if necessary. Don’t just ask the questions, either. Be sure to give a response that allows you to interject the points they DIDN’T ask about you. It’s like steering your own interview.

7. Interviewers Contact Information: Be sure to have their name, number, etc. on your phone or in your portfolio. Again, sounds simple but Murphy’s Law will get you on the way to that interview. You will take a wrong turn, not find a parking space or spill coffee on yourself. It happens. Make sure you can contact them immediately in case of emergency. (I typically pull up their website on my phone ahead of time just in case I need to reference it quickly.)

8. Mints, nutrition bar or snack, and a bottle of water: We don’t want your breath stinky, your tummy growling, or your mouth dry from nervousness. I once had an interview that lasted two hours and I didn’t eat lunch before hand…I nearly passed out in the parking lot!

And remember…don’t arrive too early…but never too late. As my sweety says “If you aren’t 15 minutes early, you are late.” (He is mid-western.) Well you don’t have to be that early but do give your self some time to find the location, building, office number, etc.

Happy Job Hunting!