Can you risk putting all your eggs in the resume basket?

The resume continues to be one of your most important career marketing documents. Unfortunately too many job seekers rely on it as the main tool to land that next position. It just won’t serve you well. Here’s why.

The dreaded conversation

It happens all the time in my practice, regrettably. This year, I was contacted by John via email. John’s a 40ish executive who had been in the printing business for 20 years. He wanted me to look at his resume and let him know how much it would cost to rewrite it. I said I’d be happy to call him for a brief phone conversation about his resume and job search needs. We spoke and he was delightful. But here’s the problem. When I asked him about his job search strategy and plan, he had none. “I just want to get my resume current so I can get it out there,” he told me. He admitted that he was not sure what he wanted to do. He had lost his job three weeks earlier, and had concerns about printing’s shrinking opportunities. “I feel I’m versatile; a Jack of all trades and I could contribute in a number of areas. I’d like to just get it out there.”

Well, I stopped him right there. “Employers honestly are not interested in you being all things to all people. They want to know that you can fill a void to meet their specific need. They want a match for a certain opening. They often want a purple squirrel,” I said.

I told him frankly, “John I can write you a great resume that’s focused, branded and rich with content relevant to your targets. But if you don’t know what those targets are; if you don’t know what you’re marketing, it’s the cart before the horse. John, the best resume in the world just isn’t enough today. Yes, you should customize it to mirror back to the position / audience you are marketing to. But all the tweaking in the world won’t make it the do-all-end-all in today’s employment landscape, no matter how much you wish it would.”

John got more baskets

Here’s another thing that often happens when people contact me. Although John said he knew that networking and social media were important, he admitted he had no approach, no plan. So, in a nutshell, John did not know what he wanted, where to find it when he did know, or how to get it after that. This was a setup for a long job search peppered with a lot of frustration. Here was an executive who was clearly not in control.

I did not “sell” John on coaching, but I did educate him on its benefits. He was glad to know about this resource available to him. In our work together, John was able to:

  • Manage his expectations of the job search and use techniques to stay proactive and positive.
  • Conduct a thorough self-assessment of what he was good at and liked.
  • Create authentic professional branding and a thick inventory of success stories.
  • Research his targets markets, organizations and roles.
  • Market himself beyond the resume with a suite of documents and powerful LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter content.
  • Manage his online identity and promote himself online as an expert in his field (which he found, was Product Management).
  • Learn more while selling in networking and informational interviews.
  • Connect, clarify, collaborate and close in job interviews.
  • Master the dance of salary negotiations.
  • Jumpstart success in his new position (Yes, he landed two weeks ago in a growing industry, in what seems like a great fit).

According to a study by talent management firm Lee Hecht Harrison (quoted in Wall Street Journal), people who use a career coach find jobs up to 46% faster than those who don’t.

Yes, resumes are important. I write them and absolutely advocate their value. But making your job search dependent on primarily that one thing is like having all your financial planning in a bank savings account. Coaching can help you diversify with multiple resources and tools. Feeling stuck? I can help!


Photo: kevinspencer

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