Career Launch

#noresume is More Than Just Applying for a Job with No Resume

Isaac Morehouse
October 2019

Ten reasons to burn that boring piece of paper.

Burning or shredding your resume is exciting.

Not just because it fulfills that destructive impulse you’ve had since you were a kid to cut up pieces of paper or light things on fire. (But let’s be honest, it does fulfill that, too).

The idea of going resume-free is exciting because it means so much more than the absence of a one-page PDF.

No resume is a mindset shift.

Trying to win professional opportunities without a resume seems like a daunting challenge, but once you take it, you begin to see the whole world is pregnant with possibility. You realize how much more you have to offer than that 8.5×11 inches can convey. You realize what matters on the job hunt and what doesn’t. You learn about yourself, and you learn about companies you’re applying to.

When you bypass the typical application process and send something better–a pitch, a video, a portfolio, a profile–you send a message not just about your skill and ability, but about your willingness to be you. The right companies go crazy for it. The ones who only care about checking boxes aren’t the type you want to work for anyway. (And you’d be surprised how rare it is for a company to care about their application “requirements” once you show them something better.)

The ten best things about #noresume? Glad you asked.

1. No Resume is About You, Not Your Credentials

What’s better than a bullet list of approvals from third-party institutions? What you can do.

Look, I hate to break it to you, but a grade someone gave you or a degree you got or an award you won doesn’t signal what it used to. Everybody has them, and everyone knows it’s not all that hard to buy one.

What does a BA in Communications mean in terms of ability to create value on the job from day one? Nobody freaking knows!

Whether you have degrees or not, you’ve got to be your own credential.

When you drop the resume, you don’t rely on schools and certifications to communicate your value. Trying to get a job interview isn’t so different from trying to get a date. Would you slide a piece of paper across the table to a hot girl or guy that lists a bunch of data on where you live and went to school, or would you try to learn about what they value and show some of your personality?

2. No Resume is About Showing, Not Telling

Ever see those resumes that list things like “communication skills” or “team player”?

Why should an employer trust these words? They’re pretty meaningless without some proof to back it up.

With no resume, you can show your skills with tangible proof. If you’re a good communicator, show me some podcast episodes, YouTube videos, or articles you’ve published. If you’re a team player, show me a project you created with others or an event you put together. Heck, show me some highlights of your basketball team and add some narrative describing what it means for your professional ability.

We live in an era where it’s easy to prove what you can do by building a digital body of work. Don’t ask them to trust your words. Let them see proof of your skills.

3. No Resume is Personal, Not Generic

When you send something other than a resume, you create a more personal experience in two ways.

First, it’s more personal to you. You can show your personality much better through the media of your choice, creatively structured, than a piece of paper identical to everyone else’s.

Second, it’s more personal to them, the hiring managers. You can create a project or pitch tailored just to them, sent directly to them, instead of fed into some keyword-scanning robo-reader.

“Applicant #271” is just a bunch of data points.

“Dear Sir or Madam, I wish to work for a great company” is cold.

“Hey, Jane! I saw your Customer Success opening at Acme, and I flipped out! I love your company, so I made this short pitch video for you” is hot.

4. No Resume Stands Out When Everyone Else Blends In

Did you know that 85% of job openings are filled by people who didn’t even apply? (Source)

That means applicants are competing for a 15% chance at getting a job. And the average job gets two hundred and fifty applicants. Yikes.

Your resume doesn’t stand a chance.

Don’t feel bad–it’s not you. But your resume can’t possibly stand out enough from the rest not because you can’t stand out, but because you’re limited to a two-dimensional rectangle.

People remember the applicant who sent a cake in the mail. Or who showed up with snacks at the office. Or who made a funny GIF for the company. Or who created a project. Or who send a video. Or who started a Twitter campaign about how much they love the company.

The first job you have before getting hired is to be too hard to forget and too hard to say, “No,” to. Send them something too good to ignore.

5. No Resume Makes Companies Excited

You know how rare it is to do anything other than click “apply” on some jobs board and submit the same resume a hundred times?

We did a study, and hiring managers said one of the main reasons applicants don’t get interviews is . . . wait for it . . . because they didn’t even include the company name on the cover letter or resume.

Wow.

Hiring managers are people, too.

Think back to the dating analogy. If someone approached you with a list of the six reasons they are highly date-able, you probably wouldn’t be moved.

But if they took the time to get to know you, and ask questions about you, and did something uniquely valuable to you, you’d probably be much more interested.

If you send a company something you took time and effort to create–something other than what every career center and school tells you to churn out–it signals care, interest, excitement, and creativity. If you took the time to make this for them you must really like them. And nothing gets a hiring manager liking you more than knowing you like them!

6. No Resume Makes You Excited

I don’t know about you, but I don’t wake up in the morning feeling super pumped about adjusting the margins on a resume.

I do get super pumped about stuff I like to make–podcasts, blog posts, book reviews, spreadsheets (I’m weird).

When you build something better than a resume, the process is exciting. It’s an adventure. Especially when you create tailored pitches for specific companies, research them, and put something special together. You begin to see what they see and feel a genuine thrill at the prospect of helping them change the world.

And it’s exciting to rally your network around your job hunt, put stuff out into the world, and see what response you get.

7. No Resume Awakens Your Creativity

Necessity is the mother of invention. And self-imposed constraints generate some pretty amazing solutions.

If you forbid yourself from sending a resume, you’re forced to get serious about what you can do that would make that company give you the time of day.

You start Googling. You start thinking about your skillset and what you do well. The rusty wheels begin cranking through the cobwebs, and that part of your brain that years of school made dormant–the mischievous, rule-breaking, party-crashing part–starts firing up again.

What would you do to win an interview if you couldn’t send a resume?

I can already feel you starting to get a little more creative just thinking about it.

8. No Resume Isn’t About Taking the Lazy Route

You might think this is bad news. And it is if you feel really awesome being lazy and not trying hard for stuff you want.

The lazy way always appeals up front. But you know how it feels when you’re just kind of mailing it in for a while. You don’t feel proud of yourself. You don’t feel good. And it doesn’t work.

I know, you’ve already got a resume. And all these jobs boards let you upload it and apply to jobs with a single click. Then you get to tell yourself and everyone else you are “on the job hunt”.

But does that sound like a real “hunt” to you?

When you hear the word “hunt”, don’t you think of stalking prey through the jungle, heart pounding from the thrill and exertion of the chase?

That’s what a great job hunt is like!

Yes, going #noresume mean you’ve got to build some stuff. Yep, it’s harder than bullet points on paper. Yeah, you might have to research some companies, too, and tailor something special for them.

For the lazy? No. For those serious about an awesome career? You bet.

9. No Resume is More Effective

The crazy secret is this: the thing that’s harder up front ends up being less work in the end.

Five well-researched tailored pitches and skills profiles sent to five companies you really care about will have a higher return than five hundred generic resumes blasted out.

Again, think dating. It’s not a numbers game, it’s an attention game. And you get attention with unique quality.

The average job seeker applies a hundred and fifty times and takes over ninety days to get an offer.

The average career-crasher who goes #noresume, builds a profile, and runs their job hunt like a sales and marketing campaign averages four interviews the first week and gets an offer in eighteen days.

10. No Resume Makes the Job Hunt More Fun

Hey, let’s not forget it’s not only about the destination. The journey shouldn’t totally suck either!

There’s no reason the job hunt should be lonely and depressing. It’s a big, awesome, creative challenge. You’re trying to figure it out. You test, adjust, experiment. You’re exploring where your skills and interests might fit for a great first career step. Get fun, get playful. Free yourself from your resume, and enjoy the hunt!

So go ahead. Light up that resume.

I do keep my resume around for insulation.

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