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Every Picture Tells a Story. It Can’t Be Me. It Must Be the Pandemic or My Resume.

Rod Stewart had a great song titled Every Picture Tells a Story that is a fixture in my Spotify library. I wish he had also written a song called “Every Number Tells a Story” because I love numbers and data. That does not mean I am great with math or that I am an accomplished data scientist. It just means that I have “run” a few spreadsheets in my day. I understand the value of taking time to digest data and learn the story it is telling you.

Taking a data sampling of the last 30 days, I received 249 requests for job search services. Of those 249 requests, 93% (218) were for Resume Writing. The remaining 7% (18) of the requests were for Career Coaching and Interview Coaching services. If you do not take the time to dig into the data, you could easily conclude that a new resume is the key to winning the job search process. But you would be wrong (more on that below).

When I dig into the requests, there is a common theme running through most of the emails and conversations. Here are a few lines illustrating why these prospects are seeking a new resume.

  • “Just looking to be noticed and be presentable for multiple sales opportunities.”

  • “I would like to make sure my resume is updated professionally and make it attractive and memorable for hiring managers.”

  • “Improve my resume to better my chances with job applications.”

The data and analysis hit you over the head with a baseball bat. That perfect resume must be the key (in fact, the only thing) I need to land that next job. And yet, that is the wrong conclusion.

We are conditioned over our careers (and through college) that a well-written resume is the key to landing your dream job. In fact, there is an entire professional services industry dependent on your adherence to that belief. The market for professional resume writing in the US alone is estimated at more than $250M per year. Do not get me wrong. I believe strongly in a professionally crafted resume. I charge a fair price to create one for my clients. But I do not believe that the perfect resume is the only answer to winning the job search process.

When the ball does not bounce our way on the playing field, it is easy to look outward to assign blame or causality. It is a lot harder to look inward. When the phone does not ring with interview requests, it is too easy to blame your resume or the pandemic and the associated economic downturn. It is a lot harder to look inward and determine that you need more than a pretty resume to land that next job.

For 2021, it is time to change your thought process or, more specifically, your job search process. A winning job search is not just a resume or a series of disparate phases and steps. It is essential to view the job search process in its entirety. I consider it as a systematic and logical progression of twelve steps over four distinct phases.

Plan and Research, Personal Branding, Personal Networking, and Personal Selling. The steps you take in each phase of the job search are logical building blocks for the work and activities you complete in the subsequent phases of your job search. Sequentially, from start to finish, the process I recommend is shown below.

Phase 1 = Plan and Research

Step 1: Develop a detailed job search action plan.

Step 2: Complete the target position and organization or company research.

Phase 2 = Personal Branding

Step 3: Draft a baseline elevator pitch and learn to customize for specific opportunities.

Step 4: Develop a baseline resume and learn to customize for specific opportunities.

Step 5: Write a baseline cover letter and learn to customize for specific opportunities.

Step 6: Create an account on LinkedIn and build out your profile.

Phase 3 = Personal Networking

Step 7: Learn to network and fill up the top of your job search network funnel.

Step 8: Complete exploratory meetings and regular maintenance on your job search network.

Phase 4 = Personal Selling

Step 9: Build a library of career stories and learn to prepare for interviews.

Step 10 : Learn how to get through the first door and win the screening interview.

Step 11 : Learn how to sell yourself and win the final hiring manager interview.

Step 12 : Evaluate the job offer(s) and plan to succeed in the 1st 90 days of the new job.

As you can see, the resume is in there. It is not forgotten, and it is critical to your success. But it is not the only thing you need to “make yourself attractive and memorable for hiring managers” and land a job offer. It is not the pandemic. And it is not just your resume.

Look inward and change the way you are attacking your job search. To get the interviews you want and the offer you desire, you need a process.

2021 will be here soon. Time to get started.

If you like getting your job search advice served up with an authentic voice, a dose of humility, and some popular culture, please subscribe to my AdvantEdge blog.

Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.


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