By Lisa Spencer
There’s a lot of great advice out there on how to write an effective resume. But what do you do with that resume once it’s written? Many job seekers get completely focused on creating the “perfect” resume, but have no plan of action once it’s done.
You need to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect resume. It’s not math. There’s no one right answer. Some people will love your format and content, but others will hate it. Sift through articles on resume writing and find formats that are a good fit for you.
Once the resume is in order, you need to develop a marketing plan. Job-hunting is essentially a sales job, and the product you are selling is yourself. The resume is just a marketing tool; it’s not going to get you the job, and too much reliance on it will lead to an unproductive job search.
According to Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, less than 10% of jobs are found through job boards. Therefore, it makes sense to spend about 10% of your time sending your resume to posted openings and uploading your resume to job boards, but you need to spend the other 90% of your time being more productive.
What does it mean to be more productive? Aren’t job boards the way to look for jobs in this electronic era? Many job seekers believe this is what you are supposed to do when looking for work. Applying for positions online lets you believe you are working hard at finding employment and you are doing all you can. The reality is that you are being a very active job hunter, but not very productive.
Bolles research reveals that job-hunters tend to seek employment by letting the resume do the work, while employers prefer to fill vacancies with people they know, have met through a connection, or that have been referred to them by a reliable source. Therefore, the best way to find a job is to follow the route that employers prefer. This means that you will have to leave the security of your computer, go out in the real world, and meet people. It’s a scary process, and that is why many people stay at home and hope that the resume and the computer will do the work for them. Unfortunately, that usually results in a long and frustrating bout of unemployment.
If applying to jobs online is not terribly useful, what are you supposed to do with your resume? Use it as a calling card. Go out and meet people that work in your industry or field: talk to them; ask them what their company does; what their challenges are; discover how you could help them solve their problems; and find out who else you could talk to. After you’ve established a connection and told them all about your qualifications, they may ask for a resume. Don’t bring a generic resume with you to most networking functions, it may not fit the needs of your contact; even if you do possess the skills and experience they are looking for. When they indicate they are interested and would like a copy of your resume, tell them that you will be happy to e-mail them one as soon as you get to a computer.
Sometimes you will find yourself at an event that requests that you bring resumes, such as a job fair. Even in that setting, you never want to walk up and immediately hand someone your resume. You want to start off by making a human connection and building rapport. They can’t get to know you, as an individual, from a resume, so don’t rely too heavily on it. As soon as that resume is in their hands, the conversation stops and you become just words on paper. Leave it behind as reminder of the person they met and the conversation you both had. Or e-mail it after you meet with a message recapping the highlights of the encounter.
A key point to remember is that resumes don’t get people jobs; people get people jobs. If you want to reduce the time spent collecting unemployment, focus your job search on getting out of the house and meeting people rather than sitting in front of the computer and applying to jobs online.
Lisa Spencer is a career counselor and workshop leader specializing in helping high school and college students start off on the right path to a fulfilling career. She also helps people of all ages understand and succeed in the art of the job hunt. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.