It’s 2019. Do Resumes Matter?
They’re traditional, and they’re still the norm, but increasingly people are asking if resumes matter to employers when there are newer ways to assess candidates. As a professional resume writer, I obviously think resumes matter, and will remain so for the near future.
Alternatives to resumes include videos in which candidates discuss their qualifications. These are great (if the production values are superior and the message is tight), but they aren’t very portable, and they take up more of an employer’s time than a Word document does. While fans of video resumes argue that written resumes don’t reveal much about a candidate’s personality or potential, I’d argue that resumes matter more because they can concisely articulate the candidate’s value proposition.
But unless they’re strategically written, the critics are right. Let’s examine what Eleonora Sharef, one of HireArt’s co-founders, said to Tom Friedman, quoted in his OpEd article about the job search. (HireArt is a company that allows job candidates to demonstrate that they have the right stuff).
“People get rejected for jobs for two main reasons… one, “you’re not showing the employer how you will help them add value,” and, two, “you don’t know what you want, and it comes through because you have not learned the skills that are needed.”
Tips to make your resume matter in today’s job market
Let’s address the first reason. How can a job candidate show an employer how he or she will add value? Liz Ryan is known for recommending that candidates address a potential employer’s “pain points,” by writing a letter that demonstrates how he/she will solve them. That’s a good strategy in some cases, but I prefer that my clients focus on job openings that currently exist and making sure that their resume establishes their value proposition; otherwise, their resumes are useless.
This means that you cannot and should not tailor your resume to fit a specific job opening, but instead that you be very clear about what your value proposition is. By applying only to those jobs where who you are truly adds value to the employer, you have a much better shot at getting hired than if you morph yourself to fit several jobs. More is not more; applying to more jobs than not actually doesn’t work. I know; I learned that the hard way.
Sharef’s second point – that candidates who don’t have the skills necessary for a particular job don’t really know what they want – also strikes me as valid. In an age where learning a software skill is as easy as Googling an online course, there’s no excuse for not learning what you need to do in order to do what you want. Sheref went on to say this:
“The most successful job candidates, are “inventors and solution-finders,” … who understand that many employers today don’t care about your résumé, degree or how you got your knowledge, but only what you can do and what you can continuously reinvent yourself to do.”
This echoes advice that Kristina Evans and I gave in a co-authored article in which we begged employers to look beyond credentials and instead focus on what a candidate had actually accomplished. This is why regardless of whether my client is a recent college graduate or a seasoned professional, I work with him or her to develop a list of specific, noteworthy accomplishments.
Employers may some day turn to companies like HireArt to source candidates whose qualifications are demonstrable, but until then, the resume can make as good a case.
Do resumes matter? Not unless they articulate your value proposition, and provide specific examples of your competence. If your resume is useless, let’s talk.