RESUME FOOD FOR THOUGHT SERIES
Resumes play a vital part in the job search process for decades. Not even modern technology can put the marketing document to bed.
We have come to the end of The Resume Debates Series.
Over the past three months, we have deliberated on six of the most contested components on writing resumes…only to reach the most controversial one of them all.
The resume itself.
For decades, this marketing document has help millions gain employment. Some obtain a job for a paycheck. Others pick up worthwhile roles. A few even score their dream careers.
Yet, we have also learned throughout the years that resumes do have their limitations. Plus, in today’s high-tech crazed world, corporations are frantically toiling over new ways to acquire talent who fit their business culture and competence level. These new ways exploit modern technology in artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through thousands of candidates at a time.
Because of this, we the humans have devised other tactics to avoid being scrutinized by machines. For some, this means investing little in their resumes.
Now, after two unprecedented, life-changing years, what started out with massive unemployment and business closures has morphed into the Great Resignation. We are no longer readily compliant to companies’ every want. We are looking out for ourselves, and we need to be.
And, I argue, this has revived the importance of preparing a resume.
Resume vs. No Resume
During the past 10 to 20 years, much has been disputed about whether the resume is a good tool for matching candidates to the roles they want.
One reason for the debate is the resume serves us as a form of advertising to represent us as capable individuals to prospective companies. Since advertising’s underlying motif is sales, we often mistakenly perceive it as pressure to brag about ourselves. And because of this pressure to brag, we rather write the next greatest American novel.
When we do write our resumes, we promote our professional accomplishments, disclose our capabilities, and assert our potential just to land the job interview.
Then we quickly realize what we cannot do on our resumes.
We cannot express our confidence in doing tasks that we know we can do but haven’t done yet. Recruiters have also informed me that academic and personal accomplishments are second-rated, therefore, unworthy to include in a resume in most cases.
As a result, resumes are biased toward people with linear careers that increase in responsibilities over time.
Even then, recruiters and hiring managers may still be skeptical of our credentials no matter how authentic we try to express ourselves on paper.
And I have yet to mention technology’s role in these efforts.
Applicant tracking systems (aka ATS) forces us to insert words used in job descriptions into our resumes as a way to accelerate and ease talent acquisition. So if the company employs an archaic ATS, it carries a high likelihood of sifting out totally qualified candidates just because they wrote words that do not match letter-for-letter on their resumes.
Next thing we know, robots will be conducting our interviews. Oh, wait, they already are.
So, if companies allow computers to dictate our careers, it’s no wonder a lot of us sees the resume as counterproductive and opt for networking instead.
Well, I contend that our resumes does more for us than getting us hired..
When we think of resumes, we think of it as a short personal document that chronicles our work history for the purposes of initiating job interviews.
I used to think this way too…until I dug deeper into my search for my dream.
The issue is not the resume.
Six months after graduating from my MBA, I felt disheartened and frustrated with the resume I created during my program. So I decided to undergo a complete overhaul.
I reconstructed my resume from scratch.
Based on the feedback I received from local recruiters and other professionals at the time, I designed my new resume with much more thought.
I started out freewriting it like I would in my personal journal, jotting down every accomplishment I achieved since college. Professional. Academic. Personal. Length was nowhere near my mind.
As I approach closer to the end, I could feel my back gradually straighten up more and more.
It took me a good while, but the second I finished, I printed it, sat back, and stared at the paper for a moment. For the first time, I finally understood the gravity of the things I had done thus far.
This early draft of my new resume was the beginning of my accomplishment journal, which I still keep current to this day. Seeing everything on paper for the first time rejuvenated me. It gave me newfound confidence in myself. I had not felt this proud in years.
This was what the process of writing my new resume did for me. I knew that these renewed emotions of triumph were what I needed to bring to my subsequent job interviews. And this was worth way more than any job I wanted to get.
From there, as I refined the document to something a little more concise and absorbable to hiring managers, I could identify which accomplishments could be clarified into stories or had issues that needed to be address.
In additional to grooming me for job interviews, the process also prepped me for networking in case I needed to introduce myself or speak about any professional stories.
Oh, and by the way, have you noticed that when you hit it off with someone professionally, that person would request your resume or ask you to apply online?
Yeah, resumes are necessary.
Wrapping It All Up
Resumes is not the the be-all end-all just to get a job interview. And like any other forms of writing — or communication, for that matter — resumes are subjective.
That goes for all the elements I have discussed throughout The Resume Debates Series during the last three months.
Titles. Experience. Length. Pending credentials. Location. Graphics. And now, the resume itself.
The advice given in these articles are meant to alleviate any stress that comes from unclear circumstances. Heck, when are circumstances ever clear?
So like I have always said, first and foremost, you need to figure out how you want to market yourself. You are the only person who has ever lived your life. You are the only person responsible for your future.
Once you make up your mind, all the elements mentioned would fall into place, including whether or not you need a resume at all.
For me, as you can tell, resumes have much more meaning to me than some marketing document to get me closer to my professional goals. To put it dramatically, it could be my lifeline.
I will now conclude The Resume Debates Series with its last installment on resumes. With that, let’s win the livelihood you genuinely deserve.