Yes, resumes matter. But not nearly as much as you think
About a year into my first job out of college, when I started realizing that I didn’t want to be a management consultant after all, I got in touch with my first headhunter. His advice to me was to update my resume and “write it so that a manager reading it would feel like he was making a bad business decision by NOT bringing you in for an interview.” This was great advice and really started me thinking about effective marketing in the context of a job search. He also said that the only purpose of the resume was to generate an interview. This was good advice too. But when I got further along in my career, and spent more time as a recruiter and a manager, I realized that how bad resumes actually are at generating interviews – no matter how well-written. Do resumes matter? Given the amount of time people dedicate to creating and customizing them, it’s an important questions to answer.
Yes, they do matter. But nowhere near as much as you think – or as much as professional resume writers will tell you. Resumes are important in helping you think through your experience and how to present yourself. Resumes are useful when you’ve already got an interview (informational or regular) lined up and need some structure around the conversation. Your Linkedin page (which has become the modern world’s online resume) matters so that people can be funneled to find you. Other than that, resumes matter only when you’re playing the wishful game of “apply online and hope.”
Too many people fuss about the details of their resume when they should be fusing about other things, like networking. Here are 5 reasons why the content of your resume doesn’t matter as much as you think it does:
– Very few people are going to read it. Most of the reason why HR wants you to submit your resume online is so that you’re easier to screen out automatically. Even if you do get through the screens, a human isn’t likely to read your resume – other than quickly glancing at keywords.
– If you are referred to a hiring manager, the referral means much more than what’s on your resume. You’d be surprised what managers will overlook in order to hire someone who comes from a trusted source.
– There’s only so much you can do to stand out. You’re competing with thousands of other people trying to look extraordinary on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. It’s hard to be impressive.
– Every day, people get interviews and job offers without resumes. Companies like “passive” candidates – those professionals who are already working and aren’t actively seeking another job. Passive candidates aren’t creating and distributing resumes.
– Your online identity (LinkedIn, for example) is where many people will go to learn more about you.
I’m not saying you don’t need a good resume. But allow yourself to create one that is “good enough” and dedicate your time to doing something more impactful to your job search!