Stop Obsessing Over the Resume: A New Approach to the Job Search Process



Welcome back to the podcast and happy 2024 to everyone. This month of January, I am doing something a little bit different. I’m going to release three episodes in the month of January, where I am going to talk about the resume. And these will be the only episodes that I will ever publish on the resume. We are nearly at a hundred episodes of this podcast and I have never published an episode on the resume. And the reason is that it’s not something that I am particularly passionate about. It is very much a necessary evil in the job search process. But I think it often receives way more attention, time and energy than it really deserves in the modern day job search process. And so. In part one of the series, which is this episode, I’m going to explain why you really need to stop obsessing over the resume. And I’m going to explain the role that the resume does and doesn’t play the type of energy and time that it deserves and that it does not deserve. So that’s what I’m going to cover in today’s episode. And in the next episode, I’m going to cover the worst possible mistakes that you can make. In your resume that can automatically disqualify you from. Uh, job opportunity. And then the last episode in the series, I will be explaining how to get your resume from good to great. In three to five hours tops. I teach my clients to not work on their resume for longer than three to five hours. And so in that episode, I’m going to give you very actionable steps for you to take so that you can update your resume and get it to a strong place so that you can move on. With other things in the job search process that are much more important than the resume. Okay, so let’s get started.
Sometimes people think it’s a little bit of a hot take that I am not resume obsessed. It’s not a core part of the career coaching work that I do. It is an important part of learning how to market yourself, but it is not the entire equation. You are marketing yourself through a lot of other things such as your LinkedIn profile, the way that you interview your networking skills, and. Those things happened to be a lot more impactful than the resume. And I think people are surprised that I have this approach because when people think about going to career services back in college, or they think about working with a career coach, They often the resume is the first thing that comes to mind. They think about updating their resume, getting their resume ready for interviews. And I understand why this is the case. Traditionally historically before the advent of technology before online applications before LinkedIn. That’s what people did. People had a piece of paper or a physical piece of paper with their information on it, their credentials or work experience. And they would physically mail it somewhere or they would physically drop it off somewhere as well.
The resume is only relevant in that first part of the equation. The resume is only relevant. When you are trying to get invited to an interview, it is no longer relevant in the second part of the equation, which is when you have been invited to the interview room.
Now some of you might be thinking, well, the resume is still used in the interview and you’re right. It’s used as a reference, Dr. Document. It is not used as a piece of data to help them decide whether or not to give you an offer. At that point, they’re using a lot of other data points to make that decision. And a lot of that has to do with the interviews, the way that you answer them, your non-verbal communication, the way that you’re able to convey to them that you’re the right fit for this role. And that’s why I spend quite a bit of time with my clients, helping them do mock interviews and giving them feedback on their communication and making sure that they are really strong interviewers, because what is the point of generating a bunch of interviews?
If you cannot pass onto the next stage or you can’t get to the stage where you get an offer extended to you, right? And that’s the point where the resume really does not make a difference anymore. Their resume is an. An admission ticket. Think of it as an admission ticket to help you get invited. To the interview, but after that it’s impact. Really does decrease dramatically.
The resume, if it’s ever read by a human. And that’s a big if with a huge Asterik. If it is ever read by a talent recruiter or a sourcer or a hiring manager. It is schemed.
It is not fully read. No one sits down and carefully reads through every single thing that you wrote down. They are skimming it for about eight to 10 seconds. On average, if you Google it online, it’s around eight to 10 seconds. When I was a talent recruiter, I also skimmed because you don’t have a bunch of time to carefully read, you know, 20, 30, 50, 80 resumes.
It’s not possible. Okay. So if it is ever read by a human, it is skimmed quickly so this is what goes down. The recruiter will skim it quickly for eight to 10 seconds.
For about half of those seconds, they are skimming for information about you that are minimum requirements for the role. So they might be looking quickly to say, okay, Where are they located? Do they fit that requirement for the location? What did they study? When did they graduate? What is their most recent job title? Are they still working there? Or is there a gap in employment? Many times they’re looking for gaps in employment. They are trying to understand your work eligibility. They are skimming for about eight to 10 seconds, but then half of that, they are skimming for information that is probably already in your online application. They are just trying to verify, okay, does this person meet the minimum requirements? And I want you to also notice that the things that they’re skimming for in this section are things that are not changeable about you. So you cannot really change those facts about you, about where you’re located when you graduated, what you studied. So that’s pretty interesting, right? It’s like half of the time that they’re skimming, they’re skimming for things that you cannot change. When you are iterating and iterating and making edits and trying to improve your resume. You’re kind of spending too much time. On something that is looked at for maybe three or four seconds, right. Because a lot of what’s looked at when it’s skimmed are things that are not changeable about you just is what it is. Now the other part of those eight to 10 seconds, when they’re skimming, they’re looking for signals or proxies that communicate. How strong of a candidate you are.
If you are a fit for this company, how smart you are. And so what they might look at is do I recognize the companies where this person used to work? Do I recognize the higher educational institutions? And this is where unfortunately bias is introduced in the process, because let’s say you’re applying it at a company that tends to hire a lot of people from another company. And you happen to have worked at that company. That automatically is a signal for the recruiter. That you’re probably also a good fit for this company. Right? So that is another thing that they are looking for now, for those remaining seconds that they are skimming that’s when they’ll look at. Your bullet points and try to get a sense of, do you have the skills and the experiences? Maybe they’re looking at some hard skills. If you’re applying to a hard skill role to evaluate if it makes sense to invite you to the interview process. Right. And so that happens so quickly. It happens eight to 10 seconds. And so again, why are you spending more than three to five hours on a piece of paper that is going to be skimmed for about eight to 10 seconds?
Okay. It is not a great use of your time during the job search process.
Now the last reason that I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend too much time on the resume is because. Remember, I mentioned if your resume ever gets read by a human, then it is going to be skimmed. But for a large majority of the job applications that you submit online, your resume will never get looked at by a human. And that is because the way that it works is that when a company opens up a job posting, they start to receive inbound, hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of applications, especially. Actually, if it’s a well-known company. Especially if it’s a remote role. And it’s a global us remote role. Especially if it’s an economic downturn where there’s a lot of layoffs, we have even more people on the market. So these companies become overloaded with way too many applications.
So what does a recruiter do? They do two things. Number one, they overly rely on the employee referrals. So they kind of go through that list first. They may not even ever even read the job applications that get submitted externally. They may also look internally. They may look at internal applicants because they happen to be cheaper.
And then the last piece here is that let’s say they didn’t find what they wanted in an employee referral pool. And they do look at who submitted an application online. They’re going to look at the first batch of people, the people who are first in line, that’s typically how it works. The ATS, the applicant tracking system, the technology where you upload your information and you submit your application sometimes does weed out applications that don’t meet the minimum requirements, or sometimes it is configured to where it can automatically reject applications where there aren’t enough keywords that match the job description, or maybe you don’t have a title that matches the job posting that can be the case too. Now companies do this because again, they have way too many applications. They need to be able to. Reduce that number significantly so that they’re not wasting the recruiter’s time. Now, some of you are hearing this and thinking that’s really unfair. Like, why is it like this? Yes, I agree. It’s unfair. It is a game. You have to learn how to play, which is why. And this is a separate topic. Applying to jobs online is for the birds. It is not something that I want you to be prioritizing. In the job search process. However, it is something that you will spend some time doing about 20% of your time per week will be devoted to finding the right fit jobs and roles. For you to apply to based on your profile. But if you weren’t in that first batch of like maybe the first 20 to 50 people who submitted the application, let’s say your application number 500. It’s never going to get read by a person. So it is a waste of time for you to be tailoring your resume for every single job posting. I don’t teach my clients to do that. That is a huge waste of time. It slows you down. What I do want you to do is to create one or two resume versions that are tailored to your target roles. So we’re not tailoring it to each job posting, we’re tailoring it to one or two target roles that you’re working on and you’re targeting throughout your entire job search. And I do help my clients with that, but we’re not going to overly obsess and tailor it for every single job posting.
Like that is not a good use of your time. Because when you apply to jobs online, they are aware, really read by a human, which is why you want most of your time to be spent networking with people who can refer you to jobs so that your resume and application actually get read by a human, and then when they actually get rid of by a human, it is read for eight to 10 seconds.
So it happens very quickly. The resumes, just an admission ticket. It’s like the bouncer at the club who looks at your ID makes sure that you are of age to come in and that’s it, it doesn’t secure the job offer it. Doesn’t help you in the interview room. That’s just not what it is. It really just helps you get in the door. And so those are some of the reasons why. I don’t want you to spend too much time on the resume. I want you to stop obsessing over it. I do want you to give it the right amount of time and energy, and that’s exactly what I’m going to cover in the next episode.
I’m going to cover the top resume mistakes that can disqualify you from opportunities. And then in the next episode, after that, I’ll talk about exactly what to do so that you can improve your resume to go from good to great. In three to five hours tops, I. I don’t want you spending too much time here.
It is not worth it. I. promise.
The resume does play a role in the process. It is a marketing document. We want to make sure that it is between good and great, but we don’t need to aspire to perfection. We don’t need to keep working on it. I will talk about in the next episode about how working on your resume for too long ends up hurting your job search outcomes, because it’s a little bit like diminishing returns, where those first few actions to improve your resume. You get a lot of positive results from the job search process when you do that. But you do get to a point where you reach diminishing returns, and for every hour you spend on the resume, it starts to actually harm you. Your job search outcome starts. It’s to get harmed because you could be using that hour, doing things that are way more high impact and can help you. Land more interviews and interview well, when you get invited to those interviews. Okay. That’s all I have for today. I’ll talk to you next time when we will dive into the worst possible resume mistakes that I want to make sure you avoid. So that you don’t get disqualified unnecessarily from opportunities. Okay. Talk to you next time.*

The job search process can be overwhelming, with many candidates spending countless hours perfecting their resumes in the hopes of securing their dream job. However, in today’s modern job market, the resume may not hold as much weight as it once did. In this thought-provoking podcast episode, we explore why it’s time to stop obsessing over the resume and focus on other aspects of the job search process that have a greater impact on landing a job offer.
Traditionally, the resume was a crucial part of the job application process. It served as a physical representation of a candidate’s qualifications and work experience. However, with the advent of technology and online applications, the resume has become just one piece of the puzzle. As the host explains, “You are marketing yourself through a lot of other things such as your LinkedIn profile, the way that you interview, your networking skills, and those things happen to be a lot more impactful than the resume.”
The resume’s relevance is primarily limited to the first part of the job search equation: generating interview invitations. Once a candidate has been invited to an interview, the resume’s impact diminishes significantly. The host emphasizes the importance of interview skills and the ability to convey to the interviewer that you are the right fit for the role. While the resume may be used as a reference document during the interview, it does not play a decisive role in the hiring decision.
When a resume is read by a human, it is often skimmed rather than thoroughly read. Recruiters typically spend only eight to ten seconds reviewing a resume, quickly scanning for minimum requirements and signals of a strong candidate. The host points out that much of the information recruiters skim for, such as location, education, and work history, is unchangeable. Spending excessive time perfecting these details may not yield significant results.
Furthermore, the reality of the job application process is that many resumes never even get read by a human. Companies receive an overwhelming number of applications, leading recruiters to rely heavily on employee referrals or internal applicants. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are also used to filter out applications that do not meet minimum requirements or lack relevant keywords. This means that tailoring a resume for every job posting is often a waste of time, as the majority of applications may never be seen by a human.
The host advises creating one or two tailored resume versions for target roles, rather than obsessing over customizing each application. The focus should shift towards networking and building connections with individuals who can refer you to job opportunities. By prioritizing networking, candidates increase the chances of their resume being read by a human and potentially securing an interview.
In conclusion, the resume is an essential but limited component of the job search process. While it plays a role in generating interview invitations, its impact diminishes once a candidate reaches the interview stage. Spending excessive time perfecting the resume may not yield significant results and can hinder overall job search outcomes. Instead, candidates should focus on honing their interview skills, networking, and building connections to increase their chances of landing job offers. By adopting this new approach, candidates can navigate the job search process more effectively and achieve their career goals.

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