This resume thing is making me nuts. Everyone has an opinion. I've revised it so many times that I can't read it anymore. When I think I have it down, someone else will tell me that it should be one page. When I get it to one, then people will say two. Or that it should be a larger/smaller font. Or functional and not chronological/accomplishment format, and so on. Help. There just doesn't seem to be a right way.
Dear Resume Hater:
The fact that you're actually spending so much time on this is a typical problem in career transition. For some reason, job seekers think having a great resume is THE key to success.
It's only one of many important tools.
Yes, I realize it's necessary to have a great resume. One that looks good (which I think is as important as the content), and clearly articulates how you're marketing yourself to your target. What it is not is a record of everything you've ever done professionally. Remember, this is a marketing document.
But it's not going to get you a job all by itself. The exception is that for a very small number of people, a response to an ad or an approach to a recruiter or a key word search on LinkedIn will justify the agonizing over the resume. For everyone else--and we're talking about a large statistical majority here--the resume is probably somewhere around #12 on the list of important aspects of search. Necessary and important, but not the determining factor.
I can hear the loud chorus of professional resume writers, career advisors, and job seekers chanting all at once, "But it gets you in the door!" I recently saw a long discussion on one of the professional group sites on LinkedIn, which went on for weeks, about whether there were instances when a resume should have color on it. Weeks! This sort of rumination adds a complexity to the process that is unnecessary. While job seekers should be thinking about high-touch, relationship building--otherwise known as networking--they're thinking about the resume. Or revising it for a seventh time. This, in my opinion, distracts from the real work at hand--research, relationships, and maintaining those relationships over time.
(For the record, I think color on a resume is silly; just keep it simple and to the point.)
Another loud objection to what I've just written (and I know there will be many) is you can't get to decision makers without a resume. I encourage my clients and students to use the resume only when asked for, and focus on getting to those decision makers through personal contact. The piece of paper cannot answer questions or address any possible issues that may be raised by something perceived to be unusual on the document. But you, in person, can answer those questions.
I realize it's tough for many to accept the fact that the resume is not as important as has been commonly held. Let's face it--it's easier to spend lots of time writing something, and then rewriting it over and over. What's hard is the relationship building and getting to those who can actually hire. Resumes usually end up in Human Resources, which is not a particularly effective search technique.
This shift of priorities should help create a successful search.
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