Your Resume Should Be An Afterthought

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Contrary to popular belief and what you’re taught in those mostly-bad career books written by the same box-checkers every year, your resume is a relatively minor part of the job-hunt process. 

How many times have you seen this?

Somebody decides they want to get a new job, so the first thing they do is rush to “put [their] resume together.”

Or you’re thinking of quitting your job and a well-meaning friend tells you, “well you better go update your resume.”

This gets the whole job-hunt backwards and puts an undue importance on the resume.

Your resume should be an afterthought.

It should be one of the last things somebody digs into on your job-hunt process. By the time a hiring manager or a CEO sees your resume, they should have already talked to your or seen other signals of your work that make them comfortable with working with you.

When they see your resume, they’re really looking for red-flags to ask about and a CYA (Cover Your Ass) tool for them to pass off to their superiors or anybody else who asks about hiring you. New relevant information shouldn’t come to light while they review the resume because by this point in the job-hunt process, you’ll have covered or told them everything relevant about hiring you earlier in the process.

More important is the networking, the application, the cover letter, or the cold email that somebody uses to make the decision to move forward with hiring you. 

Use Earlier Interactions to Control the Frame

These are Framing Tools. What they do is let you control the direction of the conversation and set the boundaries so that the person you want to hire you is already looking for certain data points when they look at your resume. You prime them by telling them about your relevant experience and what makes you a good fit. You pre-empt any red flags or objections by reframing previous experience in a way that makes them glaze over it when they view your resume.

By the time they view your resume, there should be little-to-no new information for them. They’ll know your story and how you can help them through your Framing Tools. They shouldn’t be surprised by anything they read. 

Re-Write, Re-Write, Re-Write

You should have a stock resume on-hand. But this is really just a calling card. It’s something a friend can pass along for you when they want to introduce you to their hiring manager (Ideally, you actually have something more interesting than a resume you can send along with it). 

Your stock resume then is like a business card: having a good one won’t land you opportunities, but not having one at all may lose you an opportunity or two.

But use the stock resume as a stock resume. Every time you send it along to a new person, re-write it to emphasize experience and points that you want them to pay attention to based on your research on them and your previous conversations with them. 

For example, if you know that you lack relevant experience but that you can reframe other experience to show your ability to learn quickly, make sure that comes out in the resume. That way, when this person passes your resume onto somebody else, they can call that point to attention and pre-empt any objections about hiring you.

Re-write your resume every time you send it along. Only use the stock resume when you haven’t had any chance to write a cover letter, send a cold email, fill out an application, or speak to somebody on the team (so, you should be sending an unedited stock resume almost never).

Your resume is an afterthought. Front-load the work with a great conversation, cover letter, or application (in that order of priority).

I'm Zak. I'm a venture capital professional and writer focusing on how to build a great career. You can find my writings here or reach out to me at zak@1517fund.com.

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