Before I wrote a book on resume-writing for cultural resource management and heritage conservation specialists, I was spending a couple hours each day rewriting other people’s résumés. I worked on résumés in all sorts of job fields, especially for people trying to get jobs in CRM. I did so many résumé remodels that I actually tried to get people to pay for my services. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help other people, but I was spending quite a bit of time on this work. I wanted to winnow out the people taking advantage of a free service, many of whom weren’t even really looking for jobs, from those that were really serious about finding a job.
Since the people I helped out were consistently getting interviews, I thought the numerous friends of friends asking for my help would be willing to pay.
As soon as I put a price tag on my services, the requests for résumé remodels dried up.
It seems like the folks asking for my help weren’t willing to pay for a résumé, even though my work was proven to land you an interview.
At first, I thought there was something wrong with asking money to rewrite a résumé until I looked online and realized there are hundreds of résumé rewriting services out there. And all of these businesses charge much higher prices than I was. It was at this point that I realized that it was pretty much just the people I knew in CRM that were unwilling to pay for a résumé. Other folks were more than willing. But the people I knew weren’t, primarily because they didn’t really realize how bad their résumés were.
Unfortunately, most of us CRMers have crappy résumés. It’s also unfortunate that we don’t usually know it. Not only do most people not know their résumé stinks, they don’t really care because they primarily depend on their personal and professional network to get jobs. I recognize the importance of a large, comprehensive and quality professional network. But I can’t stress the role an excellent résumé can play in your job search.
How do you know you need help?
Like many other folks out there, you might still be thinking, “So what if my résumé stinks. I’m just going to get doctor so and so’s recommendation and I’ll be in the money.” Until recently, a shout out from a doctor or acquaintance was a shoe-in for a CRM job. I can relate. That’s how I used to get jobs too. But then the Great Recession happened. My network could help me get a job, but only to a limited extent. I agree that our personal network is our best asset, but a good résumé is another excellent asset. It’s like a targeted business card that is your own personal advertisement.
So how do you know if you need to work on your résumé? Here are three good indicators.
You’ve called everyone you know for a job, but they couldn’t help? When your network is out of suggestions, you no longer have anywhere for your cheerleaders to talk up your skills. You no longer have anyone that can catapult you directly into the office of a person that has the power to hire you.
If your network can’t hook you up, you need to create your own advertisement. A good résumé is one of the best traditional advertising mediums at your disposal.
They never even called me back for a first (or second) interview. There are a plethora of reasons you haven’t been called back for an interview. Some of them aren’t your fault (here’s an article that outlines some of the many reasons folks don’t get hired after an interview).
However, many of the reasons you didn’t get an interview are your fault. Using a generic resume that isn’t keyword optimized is one of the easiest ways to be passed up for an interview. If you don’t get your résumé into the correct hands, you have drastically decreased your odds of getting an interview.
You feel like it’s time to give up. Does this sound familiar? “I guess I’ll just have to leave it up to fate. I mean, I’ve sent my résumé to every CRM company in the state AND had all my connections put in a good word for me. Something’s bound to happen sometime soon.”
This actually means you are running out of new ideas, so it’s probably time to regroup and think about how your job search strategy is going. What is working? What isn’t? The reflection phase is a good time to rework your résumé because it forces you to think about your skills and experiences. It also forces you to think about how you can put your skill set in a new wrapper that is appealing to businesses.
While your network doesn’t mean to let you down, a bad résumé always will. We all learned how to write a résumé years ago in high school, from a book, or from our parents and we’ve been plugging along with that same format ever since. Some of the more proactive job seekers have expanded onto the internet, setting up a LinkedIn profile or personal website, as a way to expand their network and aide their job search. This is good. But many people are still posting a generic résumé as their personal skills advertisement on those websites.
I know you may STILL be thinking in the back of your head, “It’s worked for all these years. Why mess with something that works?”
In many ways, you’re right. Your résumé does work, but times have changed. The job market is tough. Even highly skilled CRM and heritage conservation professionals are finding themselves in the unemployment line. An old-school résumé just doesn’t work fast enough. You may go broke before your old résumé has enough time to do its magic. Now is the time to take a long look at your résumé and decide if it could use a remodel.
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