Your Résumé Is Mostly Useless

Many job-seekers spend time, worry and money on their résumés, trying very hard to make them perfect.  They agonize over each line and each word.

What makes it worse is that everyone thinks they are a résumé expert.  Headhunters say one thing.  HR professionals say something else.  Your brother-in-law thinks he has the perfect résumé style.  There are thousands of templates on the Internet, in bookstores, and even on MS Word.  How can you know which one is right?

A dirty little secret that nobody wants you to know is that your résumé is mostly a waste of time.

Very few positions are obtained with résumés.  Most of my clients very rarely even pull their résumé out of their briefcases.  And this is how it should be if one is looking for the very best jobs.

Now, at some point in the job search process, the HR weenies are going to need a résumé, so you’d better have one.  They, being the ticky little linear thinkers that they are, want to have a résumé nicely arranged in standard reverse chronological order.  Have a copy of that ready to give to HR.  But don’t use it for real people.  In fact, if you’re an executive, you should very rarely give out a résumé to anyone but the HR weenies.  And then only after you’ve talked to someone who can actually make a decision on hiring you.

Here is why you should very rarely use a résumé in ten easy lessons.

1).  Using a résumé gives an employer a chance to reject you before they’ve even seen you.  A résumé is very rarely a good reflection of you as a person.  Many very good people are rejected on their résumés.

2).  Your résumé cannot give a good picture of your professional career. A résumé is a snapshot, not a video.  It only concentrates on certain areas of your skills and knowledge.

3).  It goes to the personnel weenies. HR is your worst enemy.  For more explanation as to why, read my post in ColoradoBiz Magazine.

4).  Sending out résumés gives you the illusion that you’re doing something about your job search.  This will often keep you from doing things that are actually useful for your job search. Like networking.

5).  Posting your résumé everywhere is a really good way to lower your offer. You will get to be known as someone who is desperate for a job, and will take any money that you are offered.

6).  You get to be known as someone desperate for a job.  In addition to the above, being known as a desperado does not help you get a job.  People rarely want to hire people who are desperate for a job.

7).  You waste time fiddling with it. I know executives who have spent whole days messin’ with their résumé.  These are wasted days!

8).  You have tons of competition for any job you have to send in a résumé for. And there are a thousand other people just like you, who have the illusion that they have the “perfect” résumé.  It’s like playing the lottery.  Too many people count on winning the lottery to “make them rich.”  If they put as much energy into learning and practicing the tools for creating wealth, they’d be wealthy other ways that don’t count on buying a little ticket and competing with millions of others to chase a state-sponsored gambling racket.  It is the same with sending résumés.  You’re gambling and hoping that you’ll be the lucky one.

9).  A résumé lets companies bypass human beings.  All they often do is feed your résumé into a document scanner and search for keywords.  If you haven’t happened to put the right keywords in the right place on your résumé…you’re dead.    Your résumé then goes to line a birdcage or be shredded for hamster bedding or some other useful function.


10).  A hiring authority will probably never see it. Even if you address it to a hiring authority, it is likely to be either sent to a). HR (see above) or b). discarded by an admin.  The chances of a hiring authority seeing it if you email it to him or her is even lower.

In other words, your résumé is one, big, fat waste of time and effort!

You need to have one, of course.  That is why I have a résumé book .  But you don’t use it to fish for a job.  You use it after you’re in conversation with an actual hiring authority.

But even then, a “bio” is becoming the gold standard, not a résumé.  Writing a good bio (subject of my next post) is actually more important than writing a good résumé. Instructions for writing a bio are in my résumé books. Click here to go to our Career Shop and get one of them.

Here’s one more reason not to spend time on your résumé.  Most companies see them as old fashioned and outmoded.  Especially if you’re an older employee, you want to look up-to-date and cutting edge.  The typical chronological résumé belongs in the Dark Ages…say, 1979, which my daughter tells me was before the birth of Jesus….or, at least, her, and, thus, unimportant.

Networking is your ticket to a very good job.  It is, truly, the only thing that works in today’s executive world.

Now, the fact is, that most executives go about networking in entirely the wrong way and wind up wasting their time there, too.  But that, as they say, is a whole other Oprah.

My advice on résumés?  Chill on your résumé.  You didn’t hire someone off of a piece of paper when you were hiring.  Neither will your next employer.  Stop being so superstitious about it.  Carry a rabbit’s foot if you must.  But just remember, that the rabbit’s foot wasn’t very luck for the rabbit, now was it?  Résumés are so last century!  Do the things that work in this century, which are networking and bios.

Future posts will address both of those issues.  But for now….chill on your résumé.

If you want to have a complete blueprint of what actually works, click here to purchase our Tough Talk series of books & DVDs.

Until next time…..the best of luck on your job search!

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