Are Resumes Dead?

Occasionally I read something by a recognized expert on employment issues or job search techniques, suggesting—or plainly stating—that resumes are dead and job seekers shouldn’t bother using a resume to secure their next position. If you’re sitting there staring at your shiny new resume, especially if you’ve just paid a professional to create it, you might be wondering whether you’ve wasted your time and hard-earned money. Take heart; all is not lost.

I’ve seen experts make a strong case for not using a resume—including active job development approaches and value-demonstration tactics—and some of them have a much more exalted presence in the career management field than I do, even though I’ve been in it a long time. However, I’ve also had clients take the resume I created for them and parlay it into interviews and job offers that led to a satisfying career move. So my view is that a resume—done right and used effectively—can still help you capture desirable job opportunities. The operative terms are “right” and “effectively.”

It’s true that if you think having a resume is all you need for a successful job search, you’re probably in for a rude awakening. In the first place, I don’t know anyone who has ever gotten hired just by having a professional resume. Life seldom works like that, and the employment or hiring process virtually never does. In the first place, employers won’t “find” you in the vast universe of applicants unless you target them, so simply firing off your resume for an advertised opening is ineffective at best.

If you’re a senior-level manager or executive, you’re most likely not shopping your resume around via online job boards, company job postings or other similar methods anyway. To start with, you probably have a network of contacts you will selectively share your situation and goals with. Even though those individuals know you, you might want to provide them with a copy of your resume as a quick way for them to understand what you are pursuing and what you want to offer to employers.

As a matter of fact, even if you’re not a senior-level job seeker, that’s not a bad way to increase the effectiveness of your job search!

So don’t assume resumes are “dead.” Just re-think the possibilities and choose what works best for you in your unique situation.

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