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Dump Your Resume--Build a Reputation Instead

Reputation For anyone who’s looking for a new job or just wants to keep their options open, this is a little scary.

Dan Enthoven, vice president of marketing of job search firm Trovix, recently conducted a study where he sent out 35 fictitious resumes to companies he knew were seeking software engineers:

The resumes included all the right credentials and background needed for each specific job posted on company sites, including degrees from none other than top engineering schools such as Stanford and MIT, just to make the candidates even more appealing.

Out of 35 of these perfect resumes sent only seven received emails saying, “we’d like to talk to you,” says Enthoven. “That was shocking.”

Actually, it isn't shocking. It's an inevitable outgrowth of information overload and the inherent concern most organizations have about hiring the right people. What's a little scary for a lot of us is that even when these candidates looked perfect on paper, that wasn't enough.

So how to get noticed in this kind of environment? Seth Godin believes that resumes are dead, especially for really good jobs, and suggests that you need to find some alternative ways of selling yourself:

  • How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
  • Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
  • Or a reputation that precedes you?
  • Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

I'd add to the list a great online portfolio. It will give you an easy way to share your compelling blog, your extraordinary letters of recommendation and your sophisticated project. With a click, I can really see what you have to offer and whether or not you're worth talking to.

Going digital will also help you build that all-important online identity. The first stop for many organizations to see what they can find out about you is Google. Having an active online presence that presents you in the best light is most definitely going to serve you better than keeping all that great stuff you've done in a box in your office or on your hard drive.

The point here is this--and now I'm quoting Seth again:

Great jobs, world class jobs, jobs people kill for... those jobs don't get filled by people emailing in resumes. Ever.

I'm going to take it one step further and argue that NO job is filled with a resume. It's filled by having people know and love your work, either because someone recommended you or you've demonstrated your greatness on your own. Jobs are filled by people with a reputation. So what are you doing to build and communicate yours?

Photo via monsieur paradis


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Michele--I saw Seth's post and it really struck a chord (nerve?). Your addition that NO job is filled with a resume is right on target. I was actually chatting about all of this at lunch today and made a comment along the lines of "Of course, what Seth [and you] are saying implies that everyone needs to be remarkable, and maybe everyone can't be remarkable." I then caught myself immediately and said: "Imagine what the world would be like if everyone took that approach and made it so!" --Jeff

It does put a lot of pressure on though, doesn't it? I find that I worry every day about whether or not I'm being "remarkable" in a way I never did before. In some ways it's good, but it can also be exhausting!

Yes, I agree, there's some pressure therje. And...we have to start somewhere. So don't get stopped by the beast on your shoulder whose job it is to make you feel "less than."

Perhaps as you start to collect the pieces of yourself and build the portfolio, you'll start to see your remarkability. You'll be able to sift and define and "write through" to what's remarkable. I would guess that in the case of an online portfolio, accessing your unique, compelling, distinct language will "bend the listening" if you will, of the reader/buyer.

I think I'd like to come to your webinar...I need to do this...

Great post Michele. I've been learning that my reputation is more important than my resume since I launched my blog a year ago. It really helps to have people know who you are as soon as they see the name on the resume. I thought everyone was exaggerating when they said that getting the job you want is all about who you know. Now I think it's all about who knows you. And not even who knows you, but just that they've heard of you is enough. I've worked hard to shape my colleagues' perception of my expertise and experience using the web and it's gotten me much further than any resume could have. I also wonder as more folks start having online portfolios, the ones who don't will be pressured to prove their credibility in other ways. How else do you know if someone's REALLY got the goods they brag about on their resume?

I think you're so right, Rosetta--your online presence--blog, online portfolio, comments and participation in other online forums--these are all sort of the advance branding that goes on. Then when you meet people in the real world, they've already developed this positive perception of you that is backed up by real interactions. Especially as the job market gets more competitive, we're going to have to find ways to really sell ourselves more effectively because if not, we won't be able to compete with those who've figured that out.

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