October 14, 2010

Two Years Later, It’s Not Really About The Resume

Since the recession started, I have had a large number of people in my office to “discuss their resume”. One person who graduated in 2008 came in this week. He had been unable to find a job for the past two years and he was sure it was because of his resume ... and the economy. He was right on both counts, but that was only a small part of the problem. Waiting two years to seek help from an expert was the bigger problem.

I like to ask job seekers who wait too long to find help: “would you drill your own teeth?” No, you go to a dentist to fix your teeth.

People like to think that they can do anything if they just try hard enough. So they bang their head against the wall, trying the same things over and over again, looking for work in the same pathetic ways, hoping for a different result. Two years later, it’s not really about the resume.

So as we “focused” on his resume, I asked why he had not come to see me sooner. His response: “everyone told me it was just the economy”.

In the depths of the recession, people still get jobs. What distinguishes job finders from perpetual job seekers? ... drive, discipline, and motivation. Nothing kills your motivation faster than giving in to the naysayers who repeat the same tired mantra: it’s the recession. It is a self-defeating prophecy. If there are no jobs because of the recession, why look?

When things are not going well, it is easy to just focus on your resume. It is tangible and it is really important. It helps identify your strengths and talents if it is done right. But before you can look good on paper, you have to actually look good.

The alum and I kept grinding on his resume ... This individual didn’t have a stellar GPA, but he had worked 30+ hours per week while going to school. On his resume, it was not obvious at all that he was working so hard while attending school. That was a little gem we had to find to help make him stand out from the crowded field.

So I asked: “what are you doing to look for work?” He said he was using Monster, CareerBuilder, and Craig’s List. In my opinion, Monster is a monster waste of time.

Sometimes, when people find themselves in a bad market, they cut themselves way too much slack. They blame external factors and stop pushing themselves as hard as they should. Sometimes, they just give up. A trip to my office can cure that ill. I cut no slack. When it comes to creating your future, there are no excuses. No one leaves my office without a plan and a choker list of things “to do.” I call it the “Toto” list ... it’s time to get moving, and you’re not in Kansas any more.

If you are not finding the job you want, you need to know that it’s not really just about your resume. Still, your resume needs to be in top form. For that to happen, you have to do all of the self-assessment, research and career planning tasks that go into making a good presentation. For this, you need to hit my on-line book, The Serious Job Seeker, and start at the beginning. Before you are done, seriousjobseeker.com will walk you through job search secrets, interview skills and a whole set of high impact tactics.

Bottom line: there are jobs, you can get one, stop wasting time. It’s not just your resume. And about using Craig’s list? Are you serious?

Take the Serious Job Seeker IQ Test.