Resumes Aren’t Enough

Posted July 11, 2010, at 11:10 p.m.

With unemployment stuck at near 10 percent and five people looking for every job opening, the idea has taken root that the key to finding work is a good resume. The truth is, there’s more to it than that.

Many young people just out of school and looking for jobs for the first time rest their hopes on polishing up a great resume and sending it out to a lot of potential employees. Some expand their target group by direct e-mail contact and “resume blasting,” meaning mass distribution to increase expo-sure in the job market. Surfing the Internet can turn up all sorts of helpers, some for a nominal or hefty fee and some gratis, who will provide hints, guidelines, completed resumes or forms with blanks to fill in.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes a clever or unexpected resume will lead to an interview and possibly a job. More often, the resume lies in a stack on the desk of a junior official in the human relations department. They get a quick scan. A few get closer attention. Most of them land in the wastebas-ket.

A better way to start is to fix on one or more fields that match your skills and interests and somehow find a person there who will talk with you. A good pitch is to ask for advice on where else to go and whom to see.

“We have no openings” is the standard response, and it should be expected. But the fact is that any business will at some point need a new employee and will have an opening. Things change in any organization. People retire or move on to something else. The outfit may expand in some new way and need workers to handle it.

The trick is to take each turndown in stride and use the contact to lead to some other people to talk to. Some people can be persuaded to call ahead to acquaintances to say that they may be hearing from this interesting person.

Before you leave and head out to call on these new prospects, leave behind your resume, preferably a one-page account of your education, work record, achievements, skills and interests. At best, the resume is geared somehow to the job you are seeing.

This networking system is hard work and may take weeks or months. But keep expanding your reach, remember to send a note of thanks to everyone who helps you, and convert every turndown into an opportunity to look farther.

And it will help to dress as if you are going to work, not going to the beach. Good luck, but success requires planning and action and a lot more than luck.

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