Job hunting is an area very near and dear to my heart since, after an unfortunate economic climate and a revoked job offer upon my return from Thailand, I find myself back on the market. I, like so many others, find the job seeking process to be one that is painfully outdated and if I’m being brutally honest, massively ineffective.
I’m going to seemingly contradict myself here, but bear with me for a minute.
I feel that I have a fantastic resume; I also despisemy resume. Let me explain.
By comparison to the resumes of my peers and those who I would be competing against in the job market, my resume is probably pretty damned impressive. That said, those simple 2 pages say almost nothing about how useful I could be and how much potential I have to grow within an organization. Part of the issue is that when you condense a human being’s life down to 2 pages, just about anyone is going to sound impressive when they list only their greatest accomplishments (particularly if HR professionals are spending an average of 15 seconds per resume, or wherever that statistic is at these days). However, companies don’t just want to know how you are going to be at your best. They should also be curious as to how you will perform on a day-to-day basis and, even more importantly, at your worst.
The other issue is that your resume states almost nothing about your future and who you could be. What are your goals (real goals, not that cheesy opening sentence you have at the start)? What kind of potential and ambition do you have for growth? Why are you even interested in this position? What are things you may not even know about yourself that someone else may see?
At the heart of the matter is this: companies are still engaging with talent in the same way that they have been for over 50 years. Sure, the process has become much more streamlined and automated with the use of keyword software and filtering surveys, however, all this has really done is reduced the number of man-hours required by HR. Resumes are static documents trying to represent the complexity of a dynamic individual hoping to score a job in a (hopefully) dynamic organization. I understand that no company could ever spend the required time looking at each of their applicants, but given the number of jobs that are filled outside of the traditional method (through networking, referrals, internships, etc.) one has to question the effectiveness of traditional recruiting.
I’m sure any HR professional reading this is cracking their fingers, eagerly anticipating the literary assault they are about to unleash on my comment section about the effectiveness of resumes and the things they like to see. Regardless, I maintain that each individual is different and as such, each hiring manager is looking for different things. With most recruiters hiding behind the anonymous veil of an online posting, applicants can only hazard a guess as to how to tweak their resume and write their cover letter to give them the best shot at an interview.
Well you know what? Not me. I’m done with job postings. In the first two weeks of January alone, I have scheduled 9 different meetings with people at companies I am genuinely interested in. These meetings give me the opportunity to engage with another person who represents the culture of their organization. From there, I can tell them the things they are actually interested in, instead of a line about being the high school council president. I can also ask them questions about both their organization and the job position. You know what? I have no idea what the hell a Competitive Intelligence Outside Consultant does and the two paragraph description just doesn’t cut it.
It dawns on me that I shouldn’t end this rant completely doom and gloom. Technology is changing and organizations are hearing the cries of the hopelessly unemployed such as me. LinkedIn has started recommending jobs to me based on my profile, though I wish I could tell it to stop sending me entry-level engineering jobs now that I have my MBA. The Ladders has suggested thousands of jobs to me as well… I just think it has me confused with Patrick Bateman. Regardless, both still ultimately funnel your application down to the traditional resume & cover letter.
Perhaps the most promising technology is in a company I have had an opportunity to pilot: WhoPlusYou. The premise is simple: you build a very extensive profile that distills you down to your most basic and important skills, traits and interests. Jobs find you based on a matching of those same basic elements. When a match is made, the organization and the individual are connected, allowing the individual to choose to share a variety of support documents such as presentations, videos, PDFs, images and of course, traditional resumes. While the company is in early days, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
Yet while I am optimistic, I am cautiously so. I still question whether 2 pieces of paper, a software program or a handful of survey questions can ever gauge a person in the same way that a 2 minute conversation with another human being can.