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Posted: April 24, 2013

Best of ColoradoBiz: Burn your resume!

Six reasons why it doesn't help your job hunt

John Heckers

Did you know that you have a less than 1 in 500 chance of getting a job through the sending of an unsolicited résumé? Did you know that your chances of getting employed through a job board are about the same or less? So why do people spend so much time and money on their résumés? Here are some reasons:

1). Superstition. Having a well-tweaked résumé is sort of like having a rabbit's foot. People believe at their core that their résumé will help them get an interview, even though they, when they were managers, never hired someone from a résumé. So why do they believe, now that they're on the job market, that hiring authorities care about their résumé? Pure superstition.

2). Laziness. It is far easier to sit at home and play with one's résumé than it is to go out and network and look for jobs in other effective ways.

3). Propaganda. Career coaches and résumé writers tell people that it is important to have a great résumé. In fact, most of my clients only use a résumé far into the interviewing process when most decisions have already been made.

4). Delusion. Fiddling with your résumé can make you think that you're doing something on your job search. But that's like saying that shooting hoops in your driveway is an NBA game. Unfortunately, because this makes you feel like you're doing something with your job search, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling that keeps you from actually doing anything on your job search.

Why don't résumés work? Here are some reasons:

1). Sending an unsolicited résumé is the equivalent of the junk mail or SPAM you get. You don't pay much attention to it.

2). Résumés go straight to H.R. You don't want to get lost in the black hole that is the H.R. department. Very little escapes H.R. In fact, as I've said elsewhere, H.R. can be an executive's worse enemy.

3). Most résumés wind up as landfill (or in the "trash" folder on someone's system). Few executives actually read the résumés that come to them.

4). Résumés are annoying as all get out. Even if you're looking for someone, wading through the effluvium to find the one résumé that has something that looks like a qualification is something that most managers and executives just don't have time for. So, they fob it off (this is euphemistically called "delegation") to an admin, H.R. or even an intern. Since these people don't usually know exactly what the exec is looking for, they look for key words. This is a truly terrible way to screen for qualified people.

5). Most bosses never will see your résumé. Let's pretend that you somehow dump your warp core and generate enough momentum, like the Starship Enterprise, to escape the H.R. black hole and make it to the boss's office. They have admins, folks. Their admins open and screen their mail. It is unlikely that the admin, if she values her job, will pass your résumé on to her boss unless the boss is expecting it and tells the admin to pass it through.

6). It is assumed that most résumés don't tell the whole truth. Maybe yours does, but most résumés bear a strange resemblance to science fiction. Because this is true of so many résumés, most bosses assume that it is true of yours.

Everyone who is unemployed wants a shortcut to getting a job. I'm sorry, but there isn't one. Headhunters don't have very many jobs these days. Résumé sending is useless. Job boards rarely land anyone in the upper-echelons jobs. (Click here to see how one major firm bamboozles executive job seekers.) Transition coaches can certainly help with getting you a network, learning to network well and with interview prep, but the ugly truth is that finding a job is going to require you to wear out the soles of your shoes and network - both in person and on-line - but mostly in person. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to you, even if that person is yourself.

No one likes to job hunt. It is frustrating and thankless work. But don't compound the sense of frustration by sending résumé after résumé into cyberspace where no one can hear you scream. Do what works: highly effective and well-planned networking.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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