Information is cheaper than ever. That can harm you if you don’t take charge of your body of work. It can help you if you do!
What is a resume?
It’s a shortcut.
A resume is a chunk of information meant to convey your ability to create value–or at least enough of it to warrant an interview to learn more.
It’s the smallest unit of info that can be quickly sent around, compacted, diced up, analyzed with algorithms or really boring bureaucrats, and sorted into little bits.
Because resumes are easy to make, applications are easy to send, so open jobs get hundreds of them. This proliferation of paper has led hiring managers to implement all kinds of automatic systems with the sole purpose of helping them ignore as many of these as possible. This, in turn, has led to an arms race for formatting, bullet-point pleasing, and keyword-game cracking on the part of applicants.
The unintended result is that candidates spend most of their energy trying to make themselves look less like themselves and more like some dead data in a sea of other dead data.
No wonder more than 80% of roles are filled outside of application processes.
What if you issued yourself a challenge? No resumes allowed.
Challenge: you can’t make a resume or send one to anyone.
Any application requesting one must be ignored or fed something other than a resume.
Any opportunity you want must be won without that one-page PDF.
What would you do?
You might start to ask some basic questions.
- Why do they ask for resumes anyway?
- What are they trying to see?
They want a quick way to eliminate 90% of applicants and identify 10% of interesting candidates.
How might you become an interesting candidate without a resume?
What can you send and how?
This is where you begin to come into your own. You’ve tried to get people’s attention before. A girl or a boy. A parent or a friend. A celebrity on social media. An athlete on the field for an autograph. Humans are pretty creative when it comes to getting noticed.
What do companies care about? Well, they want people who know and love their mission, have a positive attitude and work ethic, good judgement, and who can create value by solving problems that matter to them.
How can you show those things?
Build some stuff.
There’s no better proof than a body of work. Especially if you take the time to research and make something custom for that company!
Notice no resumes are involved.
(They took the challenge. 😉)
And guess what? The companies didn’t even ask for one. Or a degree or GPA. They forgot all about those least-common-denominator-clearing artifacts as soon as they were shown something more interesting and relevant.
I’ve seen companies lately specifically telling applicants to NOT send them a resume. They are fatigued by the sameness.
And still, 90% of applicants will send a resume even when asked not to! Conditioned, job-seekers are thoughtlessly clicking “Apply”, not reading the description, and are attaching a resume and the “Dear Sir or Madam” cover letter.
For the first time in history, you have total control over the information about you. You don’t need to appeal to third-parties for grades and diplomas and certifications. You can be your own credential and build a body of work that blows those out of the water.
If you learn out loud and work out loud and capture it in a profile or portfolio, and become knowable and findable for the things you do, you will win more opportunities than any quantity of resumes dropped from the sky.
The Cost of Doing Nothing
Conversely, if you don’t actively work to build a body of work and create stuff that lets people see your interest and ability, you’ll be going backwards. There is no neutral.
When someone Googles you and finds nothing, it signals that you’re either hiding (not good) or not doing much (not good).
It’s not safe to keep everything you do hidden; it’s safer to take charge and own your reputation like it’s the most important asset you have. Because it is.
This doesn’t mean being fake or pompous or phony or calculated. People see through that, too. It means being real and open and enjoying the process of learning and growth. It means taking on challenges and projects and sharing the results, even if you fail.
Someone who creates a great blog recap of a 30 day Facebook ad test for $5 and fails to get a single click and breaks down what they tried and why and why it may not have worked doesn’t look bad. They look eager and awesome!
Someone with a resume bullet that says “marketing skills” with no proof to show for it looks like they can’t back it up.
So go get your hands dirty.
Take the challenge.
Burn it–and build something better!