How To Use Your Resume and When To Do It

Nobody ever reads the instruction manual, but resumes don’t come with details anyway. Instructions on how to use a resume would almost seem to be unnecessary, but there are some very wrong things that people do with them. Underexposure is one culprit. The best resume in the world will not be of any help if it never gets seen. The biggest offense is usually overexposure. This happens when the job search turns into a game of chance. Playing it as multiple tickets on the job lottery almost never pays off. There are even professional services that will take your resume and blast it out to lists of recruiters. This may help a hungry recruiter build a database of future potential candidates, but it will do little for a hungry job seeker that needs a job now. Our culture of instant gratification has made it way too easy to upload that one-size-fits-all resume to job boards and simply click to apply. Of course, we also expect instant results from our push button campaign.

From the incoming end of this game, it will be readily apparent to a recruiter which resumes were shotgunned and which are from thoughtful applicants that actually read the job specs. If you truly understand how it is that transparent to everyone, consider other recent changes in the hiring process that also make mass applications a bad idea. There are more people looking for the same job that you are and company recruiting staffs are operating from bare bones levels. Annoying the very people you want to be your ally is not a good idea. The uncomfortable choices about where and when to use the resume boils down to a happy medium that avoids being spammy and also takes advantage of every opportunity. Opportunity may only knock once, but all knocks are not necessarily an opportunity.

  1. Job Boards – Clickaholics need to understand how this works before diving in blindly. The two actions that are most likely to kill resumes are failure to read the job specifications and failure to follow instructions. Is there a link to a company website? Ignore this at your peril. Clicking on a link and sending into some black hole never works. Always upload your resume for each application instead of lazily using a one-size-fits-all job board resume. Contrary to popular opinion the job boards are not dead, but they also are not your primary source to apply for jobs. Frequency: Do your boards daily and keep track of all submissions.
  2. Company Career Sites – One of the facts about today’s hiring is that many companies are cutting back on expense by only selecting a few (if any) jobs to post to job boards. You are more likely to find all or most openings at the company’s career page online. Anything dependent on a computer for results will be flawed. All jobs posted may not be open at the time you see it because some human has not noticed that it is still there. Only apply to jobs appropriate to your level of experience and when approximately 80% of the criteria for the specs are met. Applying for a “stretch” job is OK but be prepared to show that you have the background to be qualified. Frequency: Update target companies at least weekly and more often if you see leads.
  3. Networking – The resume is the script for engaging with network contacts about skills and accomplishments, but never make desperation to find a job appear to be your primary motivation. Give to your network as much or more than you receive. Participating with fellow professionals will always lead to a discussion of work… you will know when it feels right. Dale Carnegie was right: To win friends and influence people you must talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Networking is the recommended way to find job leads and employee referrals are the most successful hires. Frequency: Varies, but never overlook the chance to build the network for the future.
  4. Third Party Recruiters – In case you didn’t already know, all recruiters are not the same. Corporate recruiters operate within the bounds of a particular company and Agency Recruiters service many different clients. These brokers of talent are a great source of knowledge about who is hiring, what job requirements are important, and what salary expectations you should have. There are also recent changes to this dynamic in that many companies are controlling expenses by hiring more experienced sourcers and acting more like an internal agency. These people are on your side, but they work for the companies that hire them… always keep that in mind. Frequency: At least weekly revise recruiter contacts through your network and stay in touch.
  5. Social Media – Looking for work is not something to be ashamed to admit. Making that your only focus in those with whom you are being “social” is tedious at best. LinkedIn is not a job board because in addition to seeing available openings you get to talk with key opinion leaders and learn how to apply your skills in the search. Twitter chats such as #JobHuntChat and #OMCchat expose you to people with advice as well as other job seekers that may be good contacts. On Reddit there are several subreddits such as /r/jobs and /r/GetEmployed where you can ask questions and get answers. Frequency: Daily use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit are recommended IF you can resist the temptation to derail your train of thought on garbage.

These five categories don’t even come close to touching on all the ways to use a resume. There are also unmentioned things such as a mass emailing to multiple addresses that show that you are desperate, careless, or just plain stupid. Don’t do stupid stuff and you should be OK.

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