If you had 100 hours to use on your job search, how exactly would you divide up your time? You and many others might devote 95 of those hours to your resumes. Job fit is determine by experience, and your experience is outlined in your resume. Therefore, if you spend hours and hours making your resume perfect, you ought to get a job faster – right?
Not exactly. In reality, many job offers are determined by other factors – like whom you know. Look back at your own resume and think about how you landed each job. If you got every job you’ve had by applying online with the perfect resume, you’re an exception to the rule. Most people find jobs through other people.
Does that mean resumes don’t matter? No, they’re very important to your job search. They allow you to brand yourself, to highlight your accomplishments, and to assert your value. A resume gives you the opportunity to share who you are and who you want to become.
That said, you shouldn’t overemphasize your resume during your job search. Instead of constantly tweaking your resume, spend some time researching the companies you want to work for. Devote time to meeting new people and networking with people you already know.
One of my most successful friends has a six-page resume. For years, I’ve had a burning desire to shave it down to two pages. Before I can ever get my hands on his resume, however, my friend has a new job. He has both unique skills and a strong network of contacts. For a job seeker like this, a resume is almost a complete afterthought, a mere formality. After a company has decided to hire him, my friend submits the resume to complete the hiring process. It’s simply a box to check.
Again, the lesson here is not to forget your resume completely. Rather, the lesson is that your job search depends on more than just your resume. If you feel your resume is high quality and you’re still not landing interviews, step back and look at the bigger picture. Aside from updating your resume yet again, what else could you do?
Consider spending more time at networking events. Ask more friends to have coffee meetings with you. Connect to new people you want to know on LinkedIn. Volunteer for nonprofit boards.
If you spend your time looking for ways to grow your professional network and your business skills, you will go much further in your job search than you would by staying at your desk, toiling away on your resume.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.