I have often written on my social media sites about the purpose of a resume. So many jobseekers believe that their resume, that one single document, is the be-all and end-all of their jobsearch.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The sole purpose of a resume is to present your skills, qualifications, experience and accomplishments to employers. The aim is to pique their interest enough to move beyond an initial quick screening and to read the document in detail. If your resume has done its job, you will be invited to interview.
What happens once you get an interview is an entirely different matter. Let me be brutally honest: you can have the best resume on the planet, as well as enviable skills and experience, but if you don’t perform well at interview you won’t get the job.
Don’t be confused about the purpose of your resume. It is designed to open doors and once those doors are open, it is up to you to sell yourself as the best person for the job.
Jobseekers, particularly frustrated jobseekers, tend to fixate on their resume. They imagine it is some sort of magical document that, if done correctly, will land them the job of their dreams. No resume on earth has ever won someone a job. Your resume absolutely has to be done correctly to attract the interest of employers, enough to gain an interview, but the resume alone won’t get you a job – you have to work for that.
If you are getting interviews and missing out on an offer, then the issue is not your resume – it is your interview technique. Instead of spending hour upon hour agonising over every word in your resume, use the time to polish your interview skills.
I will never forget a jobseeker I spoke to a couple of years ago. He rang asking if I would look at his resume because something was terribly wrong with it and he couldn’t put his finger on the problem. He was a professional guy, good in his field and had never had a problem getting work before – in fact after securing his first job he stayed with the company, progressing through various roles until that company was taken over by another and he was one of the lucky staff members that retained their jobs.
He had been looking for 4 months and was exceedingly frustrated. When I looked at his resume I’ll admit I scratched my head. It was good, a well laid out presentation of his skills, all supported with evidence, and he had highlighted some fantastic achievements.
After speaking with him again I asked more about his jobsearch. It was during this conversation that he said he’d been to eleven interviews and not one of those interviews had turned into a job offer. I told him the problem was not his resume, it was something at interview. He was flabbergasted and quite offended at the suggestion. I reiterated my comments and explained the purpose of a resume. His resume was working – something beyond the resume wasn’t. He called again about 2 weeks later asking if I would rewrite his resume. I declined. There was nothing I could do to improve the document. Sure, I could have re-formatted it and played around with the wording, but the content was excellent – it didn’t need reworking.
I thought that was the last I would hear from him, but a few months later I received a call to say that he was working in a new role and wanted to thank me. Apparently when I declined the request to work on his resume he went elsewhere and paid someone else to do it. What he got was not radically different from what he had and, yes, he got more interviews, but still no offers.
In sheer desperation he spoke to a job coach and the subject of interview techniques came up again. They worked on his techniques and, whilst he didn’t go into detail about what was going wrong, he said that after applying the techniques he secured a role on his third interview. He said the reason for the call was to say thank you for the advice and to apologise for not recognising the merit in my comments at the time.
I don’t say any of this to toot my own horn, but it is a great example of how people can get so caught up on their resume that they are blind to other, very important factors in a jobsearch.
Now none of this means that your resume isn’t an important part of the jobsearch process – it is and without a good one you won’t get interviews.
Your resume is your introduction to the employer, your chance to package up your greatest selling points and present them as a good fit for the role on offer. A bit like a sales advertisement – promote your features and benefits, know what the employer needs and then provide solutions – that is how you make a sale in any situation.
Your resume is your sales advert – tell them what you’ve got, what you’ve done and give them results in order to gain their interest.
But don’t rely on the resume to support you right the way through your jobsearch – your interview performance is critical to your success and you need to take time to work on all aspects of a jobsearch.