Any resume doctor worth his or her salt will tell you that a good resume really can make all the difference. This is not mere hype. It’s true. If you keep sending out what you think is a great resume and you’re just not getting any job interviews after many months – and in some cases not even hearing back at all – well maybe…just maybe…(but not really maybe)…you need to rethink your plan of action.
Either you’re sending your resume to the wrong places for your skills and background and expecting miracles (without even backing it up with effective networking and a great cover letter), or you have no skills and background (ouch), or you simply have a resume that is not selling you well for the particular job.
So what should a good resume do?
For anyone who doesn’t yet know this, a resume is not just a list of jobs. A resume is a picture of who you are as it relates to the specific job. It tells the employer you understand what they’re looking for and have taken the time to begin a discussion proving you know what they want and can meet their needs.
A woman I know decided she wants a totally different career. And yet she dusted off an OLD resume geared to her former career and is sending that around. Granted, the resume looks beautiful, but it has nothing to do with what she wants. And most importantly, it has nothing to do with what the employer wants.
I can’t begin to tell you how many resumes I’ve seen that come off as only barely suited for the job we advertised. (We spend a lot of time writing those ads to attract the right applicants.) But sadly – in case you’ve never thought about this – people spend only a few seconds screening a resume – so if it doesn’t look like an immediate fit (even if you might actually have the right skills) you may very well wind up in the “no” pile.
It’s your job to make it easy for the screener to say “yes”.
The ad tells you what they’re looking for. If you can’t even bother to take the time to adjust your resume AND cover letter to what they say they want, why should the resume screener or anyone think you will take the time to do things right when they hire you?
But people tell me my resume looks good!
Oh I know…some of you think “My resume is good enough and anyway I want to get it out right away.” You might as well just mail a blank sheet of paper if “right away” is your main criteria.
Think about it. Would you call it sane to keep sending out a resume that never gets a response and doesn’t even look anything like the job you’re applying for? Of course not. And yet most of us have done it at some point. I can honestly tell you when I was younger I did it too. I was sure they’d be able to somehow see how wonderful I was anyway. Luckily, I at least knew to use my cover letter to clear up the differences and also highlight a few things that directly related to the job ad. But a lot of folks don’t even do that!
Now of course I don’t really think you’re insane if you send out weak resumes. Like I said, most of us have done it. But seriously…if you keep underestimating the importance of a strong targeted well-presented resume and cover letter, you are only hurting your own chances for the job you really want. PLEASE give yourself your best shot at getting that interview.
Short note about networking and resumes
Most jobs – at least the ones you probably want – are never posted or advertised. They happen because you know someone who knows someone. Or because someone recommended you. Or because someone who once worked with you calls you directly. Or because you made the effort to get found.
So there are gurus telling you resumes are a thing of the past. Not so!
Many potential employers forgot to read the tweets and still think resumes are alive. Plenty of people still judge you on your resume, so why run the risk?
And even if networking gets you to the interview, that resume still has a life in the organization. It gets passed around and the last thing you want is for some key decision-maker to say “I don’t get it. This resume hardly has anything to do with the job. Plus it’s not well put together.” Don’t kid yourself. It happens. Judgment is at a hyper level during the interview process; and people look for things that might be warning signs of a bad hire. Your job now is to make sure you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” – literally as well as figuratively.
So if you’re doing the same thing and getting bad or spotty results, don’t just chalk it up to bad luck or a tight job market – arm yourself with the best resume and cover letter you can possibly create. No, they are not a guarantee. But to not give yourself the very best representation of what you have to offer an employer…well, isn’t that just a little bit nuts?
Good luck getting that interview – and staying sane! 😉
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About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.