Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Always Blame the Resume in the Job Search

“I am not getting any offers and so I need to change my resume,” is something I hear all the time.

In fact, it is one popular rationale frustrated job seekers use if their job search isn't yielding results. Of course in some cases the resumes may be the cause of the job search setbacks, but in many other cases, some job seekers have done a pretty good job with resume writing all on their own or with the help of professional resume writers.

Once I establish that the resume is fine, I usually to ask for them to tell me a little bit more about their job search strategy.

For example, if they have been sending out resumes, getting interviews and not getting offers, the probability is great that the problem is NOT the resume. Getting the offer is more about doing an excellent job in the job interview. If a job seeker is not interviewing well, then the goal should be to work on mastering some job interview techniques instead of embarking on a resume re-write.

If you or someone you know is having a tough job search, maybe these tips can help decide if it is necessary to jump into a resume revamp or work on other parts of the job search strategy.

Keep in mind there are many places between the resume and the offer where a job search can be derailed.

1. Remember -- this is a tough economy. If you are not getting employer calls -- do not assume that your resume is the problem. A quick rule of thumb I learned from a supervisor years ago--expect a 20-30% response rate to your resume. If you distribute 10 resumes, expect 2 or 3 call backs. This will vary based on industry, profession and qualifications etc, but you should know what to expect for your search. The last thing you want to do is to keep your head down and hide away from the job market because you are rewriting your resume.

2. If you are getting calls, then your resume might be doing the job. It is possible you may be just not making a good impression on the call. Do you sound low energy or sound lost about which job the recruiter is calling about? Are you remembering to ask for the interview in the phone screening?

3. Are you aware of the potential weak points in your resume and have an answer ready for the recruiter on the phone? If you are getting calls and don't have a solid explanation, for why you have had 3 jobs in 2 years, why you had an extended absence from the workforce or why your GPA is low. These reasons can cause you not to make it to the interview. In other words, know the potential weak spots in your career history and be ready to speak to those in the initial call.

4. So you are getting interviews, but not getting offers, the problem is most likely not your resume. Think through the interview you have had. Be honest with yourself and write down where you think you may not have been strong. Get some help with that part of the process. It could be as simple as the fact that you are not selling yourself in the interview or that your interview follow up is not as good as it could be.

5. If your job search constitutes just an online strategy and you aren't using a scannable resume fomat -- it could be the reason for no call backs. Maybe without a scannable resume format, your resume is not making it to the employer in a format they can read.

6. If your entire job search strategy is on-line, you may want to broaden your horizons and develop an "on-land" job search strategy as well. You old times, you may have to attend job fairs, open houses or participate in networking events. "Pounding the pavement" again so to speak, will help put YOU behind your resume. In many cases, resumes by themselves won't do the trick in a tough market.

So, before you hunker down for a resume rewrite or throw out the one you have, take a few minutes and honestly evaluate where your job search strategy may be going awry.


Folarin Longe said...


I couldn't agree more with your observations. However, I would add that quite a few employers seem mesmerized by the job titles of prospective candidates as well. All too often, organizations display an irrational preference for candidates with important-sounding or simply more familiar job titles. The results are usually the mirror image of the outcomes you have described for job seekers, so I guess employers too might do well to learn how to look for "clues."

Marcia Robinson said...


There are so many places both on the job search and the hiring side of the equation where people get mesmerized with titles. Both recruiters and job seekers have to be cautious about not being too superflous.

Alexander said...

That was a great post on Job Search. Thanks for the information shared here.

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