Career Advice: Are Resumes Obsolete As A Primary Job Search Tool?

In a day of background checks, pre-employment drug screening and multiple interviews, where do resumes fit in? According to many successful job applicants, not very well. An ever-increasing number of new hires say that resumes were not crucial in landing them the job. Instead, they simply played a part in sealing the deal. If that's true, it means that mailing out resumes and waiting for the phone to ring is the last thing any recent grad or serious job seeker will want to do.

It's no secret that many large corporations waste thousands of hours scanning and combing over resumes that may not even be viable. That's because they tend to warehouse tens of thousands of them in a process that is antiquated and inefficient. By some estimates, corporations do not even get around to scanning a resume until at least two to six months after receiving it. Once in their system, it can sit there for up to five years. This unproductive system is fed by a fear of lawsuits, misplaced ambition to hire the cream of the crop and imbedded bureaucracy at its worst.

A good resume will still get you a job, but it may not be the one you want. Too many job seekers make the mistake of bulk mailing, emailing or faxing out resumes. This invites unwanted responses offering lesser positions or bogus proposals from professional recruiters just trying to get you signed up with their agency. Read the fine print before you submit anything to anyone. Companies of all sizes are using Employment Agencies to prescreen people.

Most Employment Agencies are for people with little to offer, who need immediate employment and are willing to settle for less. Those who do have the right stuff usually end up being talked into some temp position with the promise of something better down the road. Temping is for people with itchy feet who love the idea of going from place to place every month. While it may be temporarily profitable, it doesn't do much for your employment record.

Some years ago, I had lunch with a very successful businessperson. He had plans to start a new publishing business and needed someone with diverse skills and tons of personality as an assistant. I suggested someone I knew, but warned him that my friend would probably not stay for the long haul. She had what it took to get him started, but then he would have to hire someone else for the long-term after things started happening. While he seemed pleased with the suggestion, he hated temporary workers and short-term hires. If he saw more then three previous employers on any resume for a full time, long-term position, he just chucked it out.

Today's successful job applicant has to get his or her foot in the door. They have to make contact on a personal level with recruiters from prospective employers. That means lots of footwork. It means attending those job fairs that we all hate. Job fairs and school-sponsored employment meet ups are quickly becoming the best ways to start a successful career. It's a chance to go one on one with people who can get you a sit down.

Part of getting your foot in the door means trying to schedule appointments instead of mailing our resumes. Once you have the appointment, then email or fax your resume. Easier said then done? Not really. Employers who are serious about hiring are likely to do so within the next few weeks. They are anxious to work the phones and set up interviews. You may get juggled around a bit on the phone, but it's better then spending a fortune on postage and just sitting by the phone.

Use your resume as a quick way to seal the deal. If you have what it takes and the personality to back it up, your resume should reflect that. Less is more. Be sure there is lots of WHITE SPACE. That tells a prospective employer that you are willing to sell it, but not give it away. Avoid excessive bolding or italics. Research keywords for the position you want. Headhunters and corporate scanners are looking for those keywords and will give priority status to people smart enough to use them. Stay on topic. Forget the references, personal hobbies and other nonsense. That comes later. Proofread as many times as it takes and don't be afraid to ask a mentor or professional job recruiter to critique your resume.

A good introductory resume is one page that represents you in the best possible light. I suggest that you examine dozens of samples online and make notes on what really stands out to you. Use those notes when you create your resume, but always be sure it represents the real you. NEVER LET SOMEONE ELSE PREPARE YOUR RESUME! I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that after their resume got them the job, their interview lost it for them. That's because they were unable to live up to the hype. If you have the goods, you had better be able to sell them.

Networking, job fairs, employment meet ups, career days and mentor referrals are the best way to land a top-notch position. If you have a particularly desirable skill that qualifies you for a position in the medical, technical or management fields, then it might pay to enlist the help of a fee-based agency that represents those kinds of job seekers. No matter who ends up paying the fee, it's in their best interest to find you a premium position.

While a resume is no longer a job seekers best friend, it's still a necessary and important communication tool that bridges an information gap between you and your prospective employer. Prepare and use it as a secondary contact resource. Allow your personality and communication skills to be the primary instruments of your success. Hit the pavement and hunt down those headhunters.

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A native New Yorker now living in Arizona, Bill Knell is a forty-something guy with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He's written hundreds of articles offer advice on a wide variety of subjects. A popular Speaker, Bill Knell presents seminars on a number of topics that entertain, train and teach. A popular radio and television show Guest, you've heard Bill on thousands of top-rated shows in all formats and seen him on local, national and international television programs.

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