Resumes have always been considered as the most important tool in your job search. I guess resumes will always be important, but some jobseekers are asking it to do a job it was never meant to do. Recently, I presented to a group of Jacksonville jobseekers that included a young attorney. She was between jobs and asked me for my opinion on her resume.
Specialized careers such as attorney, information technology, or CPA, have their own language and culture. Usually, it takes an attorney to know whether the skills you have are in demand or hard to find. Only an attorney will know whether the firm you worked for has prestige or great leadership or a winning culture. That’s industry insider information that an outsider expert on resumes (like me) probably doesn’t have. So here’s what I told her.
First, it’s hard for an outsider to judge whether your resume is doing the best job it can in selling your skills. It presents an excellent example of when to use the informational interview. Ask someone who recruits attorneys to review your resume and discuss briefly what would make it stronger. The classic informational interview asks for advice and feedback without expecting an offer of work, and it is ideal for this situation.
Second, I told the young attorney that she should never expect her resume to do the work her network should be doing. In specialized occupations like law, there is a tight network of associates who should be able to champion you as a good worker. Professional Associations are also a rich source of networking. If you are a member of a professional association (and have been generous with your time and talent) people should know you and help you connect with others who can provide leads and feedback. You should have to make very few cold calls. Your resume should be an addendum to a meeting, not the request for the meeting itself.
Are you asking your resume to do the work that your network should be doing?