When potential clients are referred to me, one of the first questions I receive is “Do you help with resumes?” The answer is a definite “yes,” and I have numerous clients, whether in search for the first time in a long time, or if newly in search after having been in search just a few years before, strengthen the language and presentation of their resume. And, while this piece could become a debate on “how to present the resume,” “what is the right length for the resume,” “tips for how to make the resume” stand out, etc., I want to approach it from a somewhat different angle.
Some of the clients that ask me for help with the resume move on and I don’t hear from them again once the resume update is done. Others do decide to work with me and I explain to them that now starts the real work of our process, the job-search strategy portion of the work. So, why may the resume itself not be enough? There are several reasons it is not.
Depending on who may be reading your resume, their interpretation of it, their attention to detail, key points in your resume may be picked up on or missed completely. When your resume is in a stack with dozens and dozens of resumes for a particular opening, it may never ever really surface with the individuals you need to see it. It may be screened out, by a scanning computer tool. If a human being is reviewing the stack, when they find a few resumes that seem to match what they are seeking they may just say, “I don’t have to go through the rest of these,” and begin to focus only on the first few they selected.”
So, is all this fair to the person seeking their next employment opportunity? Frankly, it is not a question of fairness. It is a question of reality. While the piece of paper with your work history is a representation of what you have done, its sole purpose is to get you a conversation with an organization that could ultimately hire you. So, if the goal is really the conversation (interview), what other steps should one be taking?
While certainly getting your resume updated and having it reflect what you have done and how that can contribute to the needs of an organization that may hire you, it is important for you as the job searcher to seek out those organizations that may be able to use your skills. Whether they have job openings or not, are they an organization for which you would be willing to explore work opportunities? If so, how do you plan to contact them? Do you know someone who works at that organization? If not, do people you know know of others who work there? Absent contacts, are you willing to take the next step and actually contact the organization directly, (by telephone, writing a direct contact letter, introducing yourself to someone who works at the organization at a networking meeting)? You may say to me, “I won’t be seen as being very bold doing this.” Perhaps you will, but there is a difference in terms of boldly taking a chance of learning of opportunities, as opposed to being totally unprofessional in how you may connect with a potential employer.
In identifying organizations with which to connect, are you prepared to do the research to see which companies match the values and type of work you are looking to do? How far are those companies from where you live? How far are you willing to commute to them? Are you willing to work for them in a virtual environment? Are you identifying only large-name companies, or also mid-size or smaller companies? Are you recording the companies you are identifying by industry type? Are you sharing what you are gathering with those in your network to see if they know of contacts at these identified organizations or if they know of other organizations that you don’t, which do similar work?
If you have taken the steps to update your resume, have applied for jobs by submitting applications and have not heard any responses, ask yourself, “what other steps have I been taken to identify and connect with companies which may be “target” companies for me? And if you say to yourself, “I really have done nothing much but update the resume,” and have just applied and are waiting, then realize there are numerous steps you can be taken “BEYOND THE RESUME.”
About the Author
Tony Calabrese is the founder of Absolute Transitions, LLC and a Certified Get Five Career Coach where he works with clients who are in job search or looking to change careers. Tony also does Career Coach and Acclimation Consulting work with REA – Partners in Transition. In 2020, he began providing coaching services to clients of Marriott International who were let go from their jobs due to COVID-19. In 2023, he became an outplacement coach for Careerminds. Prior to his coaching career, Tony was with Prudential Financial for 30 years, where he led teams developing and supporting financial systems applications in Prudential’s Group Insurance Business Unit.