Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you’ve done.
Words vs. Actions
Along with the truth that a collection of academic degrees won’t guarantee you employment, the use of a resume won’t guarantee that you get a job or are even considered. I agree with Seth’s statement that more people are interested in what you’ve done, but even more so, potential employers are interested in what you’ve done that will benefit them. Career goals and puffed up language wither when put to task, but a track record of accomplishments, and even near misses or failures, tempered in the fire will stand.
When I look for a programmer to outsource work to it is one thing to read that they have “15 years programming experience” and another to see their contributions to an open source project or application that is in production, or better yet that I’ve used on a project. Words on a resume force me to dig deeper and are easily dismissed. Real world projects show initiative, ability to complete a vision and can be scrutinized for quality of code and other incidentals.
Do you really want to be hired by a company that relies on resumes?
In his biography, Steve Jobs is described as making the statement that “‘A’ players only want to work with other ‘A’ players”. He would berate and dismiss employees as being “B players” or not good enough. Although it is a terrible leadership example and not something that I would personally do or tolerate, I do see the draw to wanting to be good enough to be on the A squad. When my guys book club discussed the book we unanimously agreed that we would all love to work for a boss as demanding and meticulous as Jobs.
The same sentiment is shown in Stephen Ambrose’s book (and celebrated mini-series) Band of Brothers. Some of the paratroopers of the 101st volunteered in order to be surrounded by ‘the best’ as opposed to being drafted and surrounded by, and have their lives in the hands of, a varying degree of soldier in the regular Army. In the same vein: do you want to spend your heartfelt effort, precious creativity and limited time surrounded by people that are just looking for a J.O.B.? Or would you rather be surrounded by others in your chosen field with a proven record of top quality work that is not just turned in to a boss, but is crafted for sharing with the world to make it better?
You can tell a lot by the process that a company identifies and recruits talent. Cattle call job fairs are great… if you are livestock, or want to be a human resource.
How To Stand Out Above the Stack
You may say “But, using a resume is how it’s done. How else am I going to get in the door?”
With the Internet and traditional media there are many ways to get noticed and gain valuable experience. Here are some job types and example techniques:
- Programmers – Start an open source project, or go to a collaborative work space like Geekdom to recruit like-minded people to collaborate with to produce a web or iOS app. Get on a site like Stack Overflow and answer questions in your area of expertise while simultaneously building up your reputation score.
- Designers – Do design. A lot. Showcase your work and even sell some of it like my friend Sean McCabe. Design and sell your own font, icon library, CMS theme, or print posters.
- Youth Pastors – Develop a curriculum for studying a book of the bible targeted for 9th graders. Video your messages and put them on your own YouTube channel. Coordinate a conference for youth and create a movement larger than your circle of influence that will have global impact.
No matter your industry there is a way to be creative in showcasing your talents and value to potential employers. The inertia of action will draw people, the right kind of people to you. You may find opportunities through the attention you receive or you may find a client that turns into an employer or collaborator.
Whatever you do, do not leave yourself or your talents open to someone questioning you by saying “Prove it.”
Photo by CharlotWest.