The Three Dangers of Resumes

Author: Dick Bolles

Resumes, ah resumes! Or call them "CV"s.  Whatever.  

How they are ever with us, in any talk about the job-hunt, whether in magazines, newspapers, or in books, or on the Internet.For the employer, the virtue of resumes is that they offer an easy way to cut down the time employers have to spend with job-hunters. It only takes a skilled human resource person about ten seconds to scan a resume (30 seconds, if they're really lingering), so getting rid of fifty job-hunters, I mean fifty resumes, takes only half an hour or less. Whereas, interviewing those fifty job-hunters in person would take a minimum of twenty-five hours. Great time savings! Resumes are obviously here to stay, if some employers have anything to say about it.

For the job-hunter, resumes also appear attractive. After all, they offer an easy way to approach an employer. No maddening phone tag, no frustrating attempt to get an appointment with someone in authority, no taking the bus, or driving the car, or sitting in someone's outer office for a blue moon, only to be rejected after all of that.

No, with resumes you just take a piece of paper, summarize your qualifications, and mail it to the organization, if you have a particular target in mind. Or post it on the Web if you have no target and you want to cast a wide net – an "Inter"Net. And voila! – so the myth goes – with your resume "out there," your job-hunt will take care of itself.

Who perpetuates this myth? Well, job-hunting "experts" mostly, and job-hunting writers in particular: most of them emphatically tell you that a resume is the way to go.

So, let's look at what is never discussed, namely, the three dangers of resumes.

1. They may never get read.

"Employers" are not a united group: they are as diverse as a mob at the Super Bowl. Many employers dislike resumes, some detest them. I run into such employers all the time. "Can't tell a thing about a job-hunter from his (or her) resume." So, especially on the Internet, the odds are terrific that your resume is not even getting read.

Pete Weddle, who writes for the National Business Employment Weekly, got some resume sites on the Internet to tell him (last year) how many employers actually looked at the resumes on their sites. (Sit down, while I tell you the news.) A site that had 85,000 resumes posted: only 850 employers looked at any of those resumes in the previous three months before the survey. Another site with 59,283 resumes posted, only 1,366 employers looked at any, in the previous three months. Another site with 40,000 resumes, only 400 employers in three months. A site with 30,000 resumes, only 15 employers looked in, during the previous three months.

So, you send out your resume or post it on the Internet, confident that employers are reading them, when – in a depressing number of cases – nobody is.

2. They may cause you to give up prematurely.

Resumes may be a useful part of anybody's job-hunt, but they should never be your entire plan. You can send out tons of resumes, or post them on every resume site on the Internet, and not get a single nibble. The statistics are: only one job-offer is tendered and accepted, for every 1470 resumes floating out there in the world of work. Consequently, 51% of all job-hunters who base their job-hunt solely on mailing out or posting their resume, get discouraged, and abandon their job-hunt by the end of the second month.

3. They may wipe out your confidence in yourself.

This is the greatest danger, by far, of depending on resumes. If it were just a matter of trying a job-hunting method that didn't work very well, it might be okay. You pick yourself up, and go on, still keeping a good self-esteem. But in fact, the danger of resumes is that if you believe in them, and they don't work for you, you start to think something is really, really wrong with you. And if some of your friends tell you their resume actually got them a job (not true: it only got them an interview), you may feel lower than a snake's belly. Many job-hunters never snap out of the depression and feeling of worthlessness that ensures. Every resume should carry a warning label: "Using this may be hazardous to your mental health."

Given these three dangers, there is a better way to go: choose carefully the organizations that interest you (find them in the yellow pages), research them, in libraries or on the Internet, ask every friend you have if they know someone at that organization, and – using these contacts – get an introduction to the employer on the inside. It takes more work, but your self-esteem will end up riding high.