Your Resume Is Not Enough

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in the last few weeks. I’ve been seeing a number of clients who are coming in solely to have a new resume. Either they haven’t looked for a job in a long time and don’t have a current resume, or have determined that their current resume isn’t working as they’ve not had any interviews during their job search.

The upshot is they want a new resume that will land them the job they want.

I’ll talk with these new clients about how resumes have changed over the years. Back in the day, the resume had an objective statement and listed responsibilities at each job in chronological order. It probably listed every job the applicant ever had. The best of them began each section with a verb to show action, but most read like position descriptions. The old resume may have included references, or at least let the reader know that references  were available “upon request.” These resumes may have listed proficiency in skills like Microsoft Office and spoke to key attributes like loyalty and integrity. Some may have addressed scope and scale of responsibilities: the number of direct reports and budgets managed.

In our conversations, I’ll mention that resumes today need to convey value in a very short timeframe, most likely 6 to 12 seconds. I’ll note that we won’t use the terms “X years of experience” and “responsible for.” These terms don’t convey value. They don’t let the reader know the impact of the client’s work, which at best should be quantifiable: revenue generated, savings accrued, efficiencies gained. Not all impacts can be quantified, but they can be described.

I explain to the client that we’ll work with them to develop clear, concise and crisp stories that convey their value, how they achieved that value and examples of those achievements. This is critical to set them apart from all the hundreds of applicants for a posted job.

I’ll also explain that the new resume we develop together will be the foundation for their LinkedIn profile, which is a critical element in their job search. Over 90% of recruiters seeking new talent begin their search on LinkedIn. So if you’re not there…you’re not there.

I also explain that people tend to hire people they know, or people who are referred to them by people they know. So networking is a critical element of the job search. LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool in identifying organizations of interest and people of interest who can provide introductions to those targeted organizations.

So while the resume is an essential element of the job search process, it is not the only essential element. At its best, it quickly conveys the impacts and value an applicant can bring a prospective employer. However, that applicant needs to also be able to communicate their professional value verbally and virtually as well. Their LinkedIn profile needs to demonstrate how they provide value.

In an interview, the applicant needs to show how their value aligns with the organization’s challenges. Organizations hire because they have problems that need resolving. They don’t hire because they have a vacancy. Vacancies save them money. People solve problems. So applicants need to know how to ask questions in an interview that uncover the hiring manager’s problem. They need to know what it was about their resume that caught the manager’s attention. Then they need to tell concise stories that convey their value relative to the manager’s challenges.

So the resume is only the beginning.

What often happens is once a client has their resume, they return to old habits of applying for jobs posted on websites and job boards. And they wait and hope for an interview. They don’t use LinkedIn to network; to identify key people to have strategic conversations about their organizations. They’re not prepared to clearly articulate their professional value in an interview as it relates to the organization’s needs.