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.

Research Target Companies on LinkedIn

By now, I’m assuming you’re already a member of the LinkedIn community. This post is about a way to make that membership work even better for you when you conduct a job search or want to improve your career management techniques. I believe anything that could give you a head-start on the competition for desirable job opportunities is worth checking out.

When you identify companies you’d like to work for now or in the future, companies whose actions might at some point affect your employer and its operations, etc., wouldn’t it be great to be able to keep track of what was going on with those companies, easily? Trying to set up such a tracking system on your own would probably be a mammoth task. Luckily, there are tools to help you track potential employers and other companies of interest to your career, and LinkedIn has incorporated one of them in its features: Follow Company. You can get more details on how it works from an article called “LinkedIn Provides Insider Information,” by Wayne Breitbarth (November 1, 2011); but here’s a brief excerpt:

“It is part of the Company Page section of LinkedIn….You get to this file drawer on LinkedIn by clicking ‘Companies’ on the top toolbar….” Breitbarth lists two ways to follow a company: “1. Once you land on a company profile, just click ‘Follow Company,’ which is on the top right of the company profile page. 2. When you are on an individual’s profile, you can scroll over any of the companies listed in the Experience section. Then when the company detail box pops up, just click ‘Follow Company,’ which is in the lower left of that box.”

The possibilities for using this feature might not be limitless, but they’re extensive. You can track potential employers, your employer’s competitors, companies you might want to sell products or services to, vendors/suppliers your employer does business with, and more. For example, Cisco Systems has over 220,000 followers; I could become one of those. Of course, there’s another possibility as well: I have 580 Cisco connections–one first-level and 579 second-level. I could tap into those for information, too (but that’s a topic for a different post).

Stupid Recruiting: Are You a “Victim”?

Nick Corcadillos, of Ask the Headhunter, offers advice and opinions that are sometimes controversial, but it appears that when people follow his recommendations, they experience a high level of success. One of his most recent articles was titled “Employer Fined for Stupid Recruiting.” It had to do with a company in New Jersey that was fined under a new state law for placing a service manager ad that said, “’Must be currently employed’ because the company wanted someone ‘at the top of their game and not people who have been unemployed for 18 months.’” Corcadillos also noted that the company’s CEO had spent three years searching through resumes to try to fill the position, which means that all that time they didn’t have someone doing the job. Crazy, right?

I’ve heard from a few resume writing clients about ads stipulating that job applicants must be currently employed, and it struck me as not only short-sighted but also discriminatory. If you experience this, do you have any options? Apparently, it’s not yet against the law in any state except New Jersey, so your legal options are probably non-existent unless the company has actually violated a law that is on the books. You might not even want to work for a company that has that kind of “stupid” employment policy, but if you do, you probably need to adopt a more creative approach than just responding to their job posting by submitting your resume. In other words, find a way to get in touch with an influencer inside the company, preferably the hiring manager or someone who has a connection to him/her.

You are not less valuable if you’re currently unemployed. The trick is to demonstrate that to potential employers and generate enough interest to get them to call you for a possible job interview.

Nonprofit Jobs on the Rise

If you haven’t previously considered working for a nonprofit organization, you might be interested to know that as of a month or so ago, that sector was adding jobs while others were shedding them like mad. It’s true that there’s often a noticeable gap between salaries in the for-profit and nonprofit arenas, but sometimes other factors can help offset that. In any case, it could be a good idea to check out the nonprofit sector during your current or next job search. Ideally, you might be able to find opportunities in an area that you’re really passionate about–such as making the environment cleaner, safer and so on.

In an article published on October 18, 2011, “Top Sites for Nonprofit Jobs,” author Michelle Rafter noted that “from 2009 to 2010, jobs at U.S. nonprofits grew 8.8 percent, according to an annual report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality….When it comes to jobs, the biggest nonprofits fared best, with organizations of 1,000 or more workers showing a 16.7 percent increase in employment in 2010….” Rafter lists the top 10 sites as follows: Bridgestar; CharityChannel; Commongood Careers; Encore Careers; Idealist; LinkedIn; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation;; Philanthropy News Digest; CraigConnect.

Searching online for nonprofit jobs can, of course, be done in a number of ways. For instance, you can use or other job aggregators to help identify opportunities, and there are also job boards devoted to the nonprofit sector, including, which is described as a national online job site, HR resource and career development destination focused exclusively on the nonprofit community. According to the Opportunity Knocks website, “nearly 300,000 job seekers use These highly educated and experienced individuals range from current nonprofit professionals and graduates to transitioning corporate professionals who are looking for jobs that change the world.”

If you have the time and can afford to, one option is to volunteer for a nonprofit that you think you might like to be associated with on a more formal basis. That experience can give you a real-world view of how the organization operates and help you decide whether it’s the right place for you. It can also connect you with influencers inside the organization who could become advocates for you if/when you decide to pursue that as a career move.

Cyber-Vetting: Is It Happening to You?

The fact that a lot of information is available about you online in various places might not be news to you. You might even know or suspect that employers check you out online after you apply to them. However, you might not know the extent of what is or can be done and its potential impact on your job search and chances for desirable employment. Technology is a two-edged sword: used wisely, it can be your friend; not wisely, your enemy.

Yves Lermusi, head of a company called Checkster, wrote an article in September 2011 called “Cyber-vetting’s Usage, Risk, and Future.” The article focused on cyber-vetting from an employer’s perspective, but you might want to pay attention from a job seeker’s perspective–whether you’re currently conducting a job search or might be in the future.

According to Mr. Lermusi, around 80% of employers currently search and track candidates’ online activities when they’re considering hiring someone. This includes online forums you participate in (ask and answer questions, etc.).

One problem Mr. Lermusi mentioned with cyber-vetting is that it can be done without your knowledge and can provide employers with access to data that leads to discrimination.

Here’s a quote from the article that might give you something more to think about: “Cyber-vetting will be used more and more by organizations, first to avoid surprises, and more as a digital background and fact-checking tool. Second, it will be used as a way to assess the expertise, motivation, and in some aspects the character of the candidates. Finally, it will expand into leveraging the collective intelligence that social network contains. We know that even if HR does not perform cyber-vetting, or admit to doing so, hiring managers will.”

This is definitely one of those situations where ignorance is not bliss. High-tech tools are increasing in sophistication and availability, and they will be used. The question is, will they be used for/by you or against you? At least to some extent, that’s up to you–how you manage your career, your job search and, ultimately, your life.

Recession & Retirement

If you’re nowhere near retirement age yet (a number that keeps changing, by the way), you might not have given much thought to the possible impact the latest recession has made on the concept and timing of retirement. It’s something that you might want to think about, though, because ignoring it could be a recipe for disaster.

A recent article by Emily Brandon in US News & World Report lists several conditions that are affecting people’s retirement plans: unemployment, falling income, declining retirement benefits, few options to recoup losses, and increasing reliance on Social Security. Brandon notes that although the recession has affected all age groups, it has had the greatest impact on older adults. For those inclined to pessimism anyway, this is not good news! Being naturally an optimist, I tend to take a somewhat less gloomy outlook, but there’s no denying that the situation is challenging at best.

Just as an example: If people are putting off retirement longer because they feel they can’t afford to retire when they originally expected to, they’re staying in (or trying to stay in) their jobs; this means those jobs aren’t opening up for other would-be employees to fill. Another example is that people who are continuing to work longer are probably not indulging in the leisure-time activities they had planned to engage in during retirement, and that pull-back could affect others who work in the industries and regions where those activities would occur. It’s a ripple effect.

What can you do? First, don’t press the panic button! Seriously, knee-jerk reactions to potentially dire news can cause us to make unwise decisions that we could well live to regret. They can also prevent us from seeing and exploring possibilities that might improve our retirement situation–whether we’re nearing retirement age or still many years away from it. Wise career management definitely comes into play here, along with good financial sense. Impulsiveness can have a positive place in our lives, but probably not when it comes to preparing ourselves for retirement.

The Curse of Experience

Jon Gordon’s blog often contains items I find both inspirational and practical, and his October 24, 2011 post definitely met both “tests.” He called it “The Curse of Experience: Think Like a Rookie.” The title alone intrigued me, as it was undoubtedly meant to do. More important, from my perspective, the article caused me to think seriously about an issue that too often arises for both employed and unemployed job searchers. You’ve probably heard one or both of the following statements in your business career: “We can’t do that. We’ve never done it before” or “But we’ve always done it this way.”

Those statements are the kiss of death to success in business, whether you’re in job search mode or just trying to do your job as well as you can. The attitude they represent can stop progress in its tracks, sabotage a promising career–in other words, do serious damage in one form or another. As Jon Gordon puts it, “…sometimes experience can be a curse. Such as when your experience in business causes you to focus on the good ole days.” He goes on to say that rookies “don’t know about the way things were. Rookies don’t focus on what everyone says is impossible. They bring an idealism, optimism and passion to their work and because they believe in the future they take the necessary actions to create it.”

Does this mean you can blithely assume that great and wonderful things will happen just because you try something different in your job search or career management activities? No. A touch of realism can actually be healthy–but not if it shuts down enthusiasm, optimism and determination. If your resume, interview techniques and other job search elements reflect someone who can turn experience into a blessing and not a curse, employers are more likely to sit up and take notice.

LinkedIn Mistakes You Might Be Making

It’s not uncommon for me to see an individual’s LinkedIn profile that doesn’t do him or her any favors, in terms of creating an effective professional presence online. However, I recently read an article by a colleague, Meg Guiseppi, that brought up mistakes I hadn’t even thought of (the article, published March 28, 2011, is called “29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes”). It prompted me to give the matter more thought and put together this post, in hopes that those of you who read it will take a look at your profile and see whether you’re missing the boat.

Meg’s article divides mistakes into two main categories: not building your profile and not leveraging your LinkedIn membership. I won’t get into the second category here because there’s just too much ground to cover. Maybe I’ll revisit this subject later and tackle that part then.

Here are just a few of the mistakes Meg noted that I was already aware of, as well as one that was new to me:

  • Keeping the default LinkedIn profile URL, which is a jumble of letters and numbers, instead of using your name (or as close to that as you can–if you’re John Smith or Mary Jones, you might find that someone has already take it!).
  • Not using your branded resume and career biography to add meat to your profile’s message.
  • Failing to include a photo–and we don’t mean one taken in the photo booth at the local mall.
  • Having a ho-hum Summary section, or none at all–LinkedIn allows you to use up to 2,000 characters and spaces; you don’t have to use every last one, but you should be communicating a strong value proposition there that distinguishes you from your competition.
  • Not using the Files application to add your resume, biography and other career documents to your profile, which allows you to share them easily. (I hadn’t come across this one before.)

By the way, I have helped several job search clients create or improve their LinkedIn profile. While it’s not, as the saying goes, rocket science, it does deserve careful consideration. Yes, you can edit it and undoubtedly will over time, but you don’t want to just throw it together to begin with. It’s a key career management tool, so give it some thought–then put it out there.