Career Strategy Tips #4 - To Lead Or Not to Lead - With Your Resume
Do not lead with your resume! " Hold on" you say, "Why else would I have a resume?" Wrong.
To begin with, to email your resume out willy-niilly for every possible position that may have some correlation to your experience, and/or handing it off to everyone who asks for it, as a classic brush-off, is not a Career Strategy. It is being re-active, not pro-active in these challenging times -- or in any other times.
So, what does it mean to be Pro-Active in your career advancement, and not become dependent on your resume.
First, your resume should be a maximum of two pages and emphasize your professional experience and accomplishments as they relate to your next career move. Think of your resume as a piece of seduction -- less is more. It should help get you to the next step -- a meeting -- or serve as a confirmation of relevant facts about your professional experience. (I will be devoting an upcoming article on tips for a stronger resume.) But, you must drive the opportunity with personal involvement and a strategy.
Let's say that you locate a position online that fits your professional background. O.K., most likely, you and hundreds of others will email them your resume as requested. So, do you sit back and wait for the phone to ring or take the initiative and become pro-active. I favor pro-active.
Your next step should be driven not only by research but by networking. Does anyone on your networking list know anyone at this company? If so you can use the contact to get more information about the company and the position, and, most importantly learn who the position reports to. Also, find out who in HR is coordinating this search and perhaps, doing the initial screening and interviewing of candidates.
Even if you do not have any strategic contacts, maximize your research of the company to become as knowledgeable about the culture and structure, challenges and performance, and, if possible find out to whom this position reports as well as the head of HR. Don't just rely on the Internet, but call the company to get the information you want.
Once you have the name of the position's superior, call his/her's office with the idea of setting up a meeting to discuss the position. Why?" you ask. "Isn't this a bit pushy?" Not if you consider yourself 'a great fit', and are doing him/her a favor in saving him/her time and effort in looking further when -- Here you are.
There is a good chance that his/her assistant, the gatekeeper, will keep the gate closed, even after you have explained why you have taken this initiative. Worst case, the assistant will ask you to send your resume and/or give you the name of the HR person handling the search. In this conversation make every effort to create an ally with the assistant. Even send the assistant a thank you note for their help. And, yes, you can send the assistant's boss your resume or, perhaps preferably, a succinct Career Highlights letter.
So, now you have the HR person who you will contact with the same mindset. Again, importantly, make him/her your ally. After all, you have just made their life easier - you are the one. He/she may be interested in meeting with you, but first: "please send me your resume".
Your next step is to send your potential boss and the HR lead a hard copy of your resume. Yes, 'a hard copy'. Think of it, how many people in this day and age take the time and energy to send hard copies of anything if they can avoid it. Remember, any way you can distinguish yourself from the herd, do it.
And, with your resume, you must send a cover letter -- not just any old generic cover letter, but a position-specific cover letter. (I will cover the cover letter and career highlights letter in an upcoming article.) You should conclude your cover letter with something like: "I will follow-up and give you a call within the week to set up a meeting to discuss the position and how I can contribute to the success of your company.
So, let's think of your resume as one bullet in your ammunition belt, but not all of your ammunition. Use it as part of an overall Strategic Career Plan -- but never sit back and become resume dependent and expect the resume to do the work for you.