Should You Really ‘Burn Your Resume’?

Go break the rules.

Yes. Literally burn your resume. I’m not kidding!

Yeah, I understand, but the vast majority of companies won’t let me upload the burned ashes of my resume.

Job-seeker talking to Crash team today

I get it. You want to follow the rules. Companies ask for resumes, applications require a PDF upload. Nobody gave you permission to do something different.

Break the rules.

Don’t wait for permission.

Companies list stuff they think they’ll want to see because they think it will get them a pool of candidates they think might have a few people in it who they think might have what they think the job requires.

It’s a lot of guesswork. Like the perfect house, song, or romantic partner, you don’t really know what you want until you encounter it. It’s often surprising. Hiring managers are mostly running through the motions just like job-seekers.

Flip the frame

Imagine, as a job seeker, getting an email from a hiring manager with a video of them saying, “Hey, we don’t have an official, boring-ass job posting. But we have needs for great people, and I think you could be one of them based on the XYZ blog post I read of yours. I’d love to talk about our XYZ role!”

Would you be MAD at them for BREAKING THE RULES of hiring?

They never even had a job posting! They didn’t ask for your resume! They didn’t follow the norms of expected behavior!

And for that very reason, it would grab your attention, make you feel flattered and excited to talk to them.

It’s the same the other way around!

I have received pitches with video of candidates putting their resume through a shredder and even tossing a framed college degree to the side with a smash. You don’t have to be that literal of course, but they are signaling something powerful: “I want to prove real value, and I have the hustle, creativity, and confidence to not wait in line to see if my name’s on the guest list and I’m fitting the dress code. I’ll come through the side door and crash the party.”

Yeah, really burn your resume

We’re not just being cheeky when we say burn your resume. Tossing it out forces you to break the permission mindset so thoroughly schooled into us and get creative about how to create value for a company and how to prove it.

If you had one shot to get someone’s attention – if your life depended on it – would you send an identical resume along with 500 others where the odds are less than one half of one percent that it gets noticed?

No! You’d probably take out a billboard, send a singing telegram, or knock on their door in person.

You don’t need to do any of those things (though some have) to get a job, and your life doesn’t literally depend on it, but the same mindset is needed. You need to get there attention!

Forget the rules in the application. If you insist on completing the normal application, upload a PDF that says “Resumes are boring. Click here.” and then directly email them too. Or skip the formal app altogether.

Research the company and the people who work there. Find email addresses. Personally, directly, email the hiring manager and potential colleagues at the company a pitch that’s too interesting to ignore.

The permission mindset will keep you at the mercy of the amorphous “system”. The value-creation mindset puts you in charge. And it works better. And it’s more fun.

What’s not to love?

Related: How to Email the Hiring Manager the WRONG Way

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