Archive for July, 2009

Both Sides Need to Revisit the Question: How Important is the Resume?

July 16, 2009

As a recruiter, long time hiring manager, and resume writing service provider, I have reviewed thousands of resumes across nearly all disciplines and levels.  It never ceases to amaze me how little people invest in their resumes.  Families seek out resources and spend substantial amounts of time and money to support other major life issues, such as financial advisors, attorneys, wedding planners, therapists, and real estate agents.  By contrast, the career front seems all too lacking in forethought, preparation, and execution.  If one’s resume is any indication, then it appears that tackling career issues appears more of a necessary evil to get done with than a critical life element deserving of significant attention.  I can’t help but conclude that some people put more time and thought into deciding the clothes they wear than the proper dressing of their resume.

I fully recognize that the resume is merely a means to an end.  Yet, it represents the first impression.  It’s the written manifestation of all the sweat equity you’ve built.  It’s certainly deserving of being treated more than an afterthought.  Surprisingly, many people are doing themselves an injustice by not putting their best (written) foot forward.  I’ve seen MBAs with egregious typos, sales executives with passive language, and marketing professionals with eye fatiguing formatting.  And yet, when I interview some of these people, they indeed make for strong and compelling candidates.  Unfortunately, everyone’s an expert on writing their own resume.  After all, who knows you better than yourself?

As for hiring managers, how important is the resume?  Naturally, it couldn’t possibly contain all the information you need to make an informed decision.  To be sure, it can provide helpful clues, such as quota numbers for sales, product development and enhancement milestones for product managers, and depth of accounting standards and practices for controllers.  It also provides a glimpse into organization skills, attention to detail, and concise thought process ability.

Yet, there’s much to a candidate that eludes the resume.  You’ll be hard pressed to find intangible qualities on the written document, such as motivation, passion, inquisitiveness, risk tolerance, and self-awareness.  In addition, there’s the story behind the story – why the candidate left the position, how specifically they accomplished their goals, and what their key learnings were in each role.  If a candidate is being presented by a competent and thorough recruiter, then these vital data points will be ferreted out and delivered to the hiring manager along with the resume.  Otherwise, both the candidate and hiring manager have little to depend on to flesh out the picture.

At the end of the day, the resume is the ticket to dance.  The hiring manager has to determine if you are properly dressed for the dance and have the right dancing ability.  If the resume is constructed well and accompanied by supporting data, then there stands a greater likelihood of being granted admission.  And with that, let the dance begin.

Action Items:

*  Your resume is a reflection of all your hard work.  It deserves substantially more attention.

*  As a candidate, don’t depend on your own resume writing ability.  After all, everyone needs a second pair of eyes.  It’s worth the investment.

*  Both candidates and hiring managers alike must remember that a resume alone can’t possibly provide a detailed enough picture of the candidate’s credentials and potential fit.