In a month or two, I’ll be giving a local talk about resume writing and editing (it was going to be this week, but will likely be punted to a little closer to summer). I’m probably shooting myself in the foot with my approach on this, but I’ll be inverting the thinking here and suggesting that a resume is one of the last pieces of paper you hand over to a potential employer.
Because it’s been my experience–and learning through reading–that more jobs are acquired through your network than your cold-called resume.
I won’t lie to you: in my twenties, I resented the notion of networking. I think part of it was how networking was presented to me: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That made it sound like the only way you get ahead in life is by making friends with people who have power and influence, and that the only way to make those powerful, influential friends is to suck up to rich people or managers.
Okay, sure, I suppose that’s one way to go about it.
But really, networking is about a lot more than that. When you’re searching for a job, your network equals pretty much everyone you know–preferably those you know well and who think well of you–and everyone who might know somebody who wants to hire someone with your particular set of skills. When you’re trying to find the next job, you need to communicate with the people you know and who know you. You need to be talking about what specific type of work you’re seeking.
Updated 4/23/15, 9:15 a.m.
Just occurred to me that I didn’t explain why the resume is the last document you present. It goes something like this…
In a networking situation, someone you know–anyone from a subordinate to a senior leader–identifies an opportunity for you and provides an introduction to a hiring manager. They open the door for you, having said nice things about you (they do have nice things to say about you, right? Meaning you’re a good worker and/or a pleasant person?). You start the conversation with the employer. They like you and decide to hire you. The resume then becomes a reminder to them should they need to conduct further interviews or just a piece of paper for the HR files. If you’ve handled everything well up to that point, the resume is almost beside the point.
The rest–from interviewing to actual job performance–is up to you.