Sorry, Your Resume Does Matter: Tips from a Recruiter

The universe is telling me that it’s time to get out of my entrepreneur/new small business owner haze for a bit and write a quick blog post on resumes. Three things awakened me to this realization this week.

(1) Everyday I see at least one tweet scroll by or an article in my Google reader that talks about how resumes aren’t all that important because jobs are obtained through networking. I saw one last night that left me both tired and boiling mad at the same time.

Resumes and Networking are not opposite concepts or tools. Hot is to Cold is not the same as Networking is to Having a Great Resume.  When networking, you may meet the best contact ever, but if  he has no job openings, he will want to pass on your resume to someone in his network. His contact will likely put great stock in the personal recommendation, but your candidacy has to stand on its own and that has to be reflected, at least in part, on paper.

(2) Resumes were a hot topic on Monday night’s Twitter #jobhuntchat. Recruiters and HR folks were telling jobseekers that most of them actually don’t know how to do a resume, and the jobseekers were telling the recruiters they have great resumes. What was interesting is that the recruiters were all tweeting the same advice on resumes, but in most cases, the jobseekers  still weren’t convinced to follow it.

BTW- what’s a Twitter chat you might ask? It’s when a bunch of people (sometimes over 100) get together for an hour to chat on a topic that interests them. A host throws out 5-6 questions and you share your thoughts, reply to other’s thoughts, and retweet things you like to your followers. Everything you do, you include the hashtag in the Tweet. Yes, just writing some of these terms makes me feel like a teenager. But participating in the #jobhuntchat and the #genychat have been some of the best hours I have spent in the last week in making connections, challenging my thoughts, and becoming a better career coach.

(3) We had an awesome first stop on the Cocktails and Careers Tour last night at The Village Pourhouse. People brought their resumes and I did some free reviews over a Guinness. Everyone who came was great and super-focused and I have no doubts with some tweaks to their approach and how they express their brand, they’ll be hired soon. But when I was reviewing one resume, the person kept bringing up advice that she had received at a workshop offered by the public library. For example, she was told ALWAYS use an objective, while I was telling her it was taking up valuable real estate on her resume. If all of your experience is in one area and you’re applying for a job in that same area, I know your objective. I also told her to ditch her AOL email address and she was skeptical, again, because this was in conflict with information she had heard at this workshop.  I am not criticizing her- she was legitimately confused.

So I have three resume tips to share this week. The first tip is now obvious, but it’s to defer to advice being given by real people who hire and recruit. They see resumes all day long and can tell you what stands out to them based on evidence. If you’re a college student or alum using the career office, you should absolutely question where counselors are getting their ideas and if they are requesting and incorporating feedback from employers into their advice to you. What they are telling you could be taken from a book published in 1999.  Likewise, other jobseekers or moms and dads may have great feedback, but if it’s different than what an expert is telling you, you should defer to the expert.

I am becoming more and more convinced that jobseeking is like teaching. Everyone experiences it in some form or other (in the case of teaching, as a student), so they think they know how to do it and love to advise others. But hard data shows that only a small percentage actually succeed at either.

And on that note, if you are in New York City and want your resume reviewed by an expert recruiter, come join me on the Cocktails and Careers Tour. Our next two stops (September 15 and 18) are at The Copper Door Tavern. They are excited to have us and have offered us $12 bottomless glasses of wine tonight. Wine makes resume reviews so much easier.