Saturday, July 26, 2014

The worth of a resume and the worth of the internet for resumes.

A long time ago, on my photography website, there was a web form. Quite often people would fill the form with applications for non-existent jobs. Some even included their social security numbers. No jobs had been advertised and no positions were vacant. It was very strange. 

Roll on a few years and my position ended so I began to hunt for work. The basic doctrine was to fill out applications on a rather worthless government website and press send. There was no personality nor human interaction at all. Indeed most resumes go through resume scanners that filter out the most useful applicants and give the HR guru only the applicants that have the right words on their resume and of course those words are kept secret.

After a few months of doing the worthless exercise of sitting on my backside filling out silly web forms and doing a lot of copy and paste, my email inbox began to fill with spam. Fortunately, foreseeing that I'd opened a new email account. Even with spam filtering in place it was soon filled with a sea of junk amidst which it was impossible to see communications from potential employers. The account was deleted and not a moment too soon. Every few moments my phone would ping and it would be another junk email that said something to the effect of "now how about applying for these jobs too".

In the end, I came back to my original article about job hunting and took another look at the resume. With online applications, nobody seems to bother with the resume - they just want the forms filled and not the resume. Having ceased to fill in forms pointlessly and having decided to focus more on the kind of job I need rather than applying for just any old job, I took a new path. Or rather, I took an old and well trodden path that everybody has forgotten about. 

My path to work started in the middle of May when I decided to do some voluntary work. This is a very important thing to do for several reasons. 
  • First, it shows that you're not an idle bum just waiting for the phone to ring with offers of work. 
  • Second, when you do start work, it will give you a bigger tax break. 
  • Third, it gets you into a work circle - when you're out of work, you lack work contacts and these contacts are when are needed to get work. 
  • Finally, it gets you into a work routine. It's too easy to laze in bed until mid afternoon without work then stay up til the wee hours playing video games. 
During my time in my voluntary job, aside from using the careers dept of my former college to run through my resume for me, I used the Human Resources department at my voluntary job. In fact they looked with wide eyes and told me to check their website as it was updated every Tuesday. They did suggest some minor changes but these are probably more personal preference.

So, how should a resume look? The format is essentially like this:
  • Your Name
  • Phone Number
  • PO Box or email address
  • City

  • A statement of objectives. This has to be good and the HR person I spoke to said "This gets you hired". This is the first thing that they look for so it has to be good.

  • After this, a list of key skills. Apparently Microsoft Office has to be there even though everybody and their dog does Microsoft Office or derivatives thereof.

  • Then a list of prior employment but not necessarily in chronological order - in order of relevance to the position applied for.

  • For each job put the company name, city, dates and position. Then put 3 salient points about what you did for that company. They have to be short and punchy. I got mine from an online reference. Heck, I couldn't pick out key things as I had to do a bit of everybody's job as well as my own.

  • Under that, education - just institutions, qualifications and year completed. Course content is not required.
That's it - you're good to go with a resume. My personal preference is not to quote an email address. There's so much recruitment spam that it's no longer worthwhile giving an email address. My favorite response to the email address field is "". This is what I do for online applications. Online applications aren't worth crap anyway. Nobody will ever read them in the vast majority of cases.

Where my successes come from are from the oldest trick in the book. I put on my uniform from my voluntary job, including my name badge and head to people's offices. The kinds of place I want to work are similar to the kind of place I'm volunteering in. Needless to say it's all professional medical stuff. I had some business cards printed that give my name, my desired job function and so on - all with a nice logo and a website. I paid $15 for 250 business cards and $4 for a domain name. The website is a freebie website. If a company won't take a resume then like as not they'll take a business card. 

Remember to be nice to the receptionists. They might not actually be receptionists. I spoke with one lady behind a reception desk and suspected she was not the receptionist but a director. My resume was refused so I handed her a business card. On my way to the door I was called back and asked for a resume which was apparently going to be submitted to the Human Resources director. Another reason to be nice to receptionists is they are your bridge to seeing other people. Don't burn your bridges.

Hitting the road and meeting people, I got far more feedback but more importantly I was seen by people. I was seen by a lot of people. My name will begin to ring bells - I know that fellow - I met him once etc. This is infinitely more productive than sitting on your butt playing online application form games. Make a list of places you want to work and head out to them with resumes and business cards. The larger places will probably have online only applications so put those on the back burner and concentrate on smaller companies that don't waste everybody's time with a website.

Yes - 90% of your business cards will go straight in the trash. 90% of your resumes will go straight in the trash. In fact, probably 97.5% will. All you need is one company to say yes. That's all you need. Don't print too many resumes. Keep a copy on your phone in case somebody insists on having it by email (and keep a throwaway email address specifically for that). Finally, if somebody tells you that online is the way to get a job, please feel free to correct their erroneous thinking with a good hard slap around the head. I have never got a job through anybody's rinky-dink website. I have only ever got jobs from personal contact. That includes all my jobs over the last 10 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment