No, Virginia, the Resume is NOT Dead

burning resumeWe live in a digital age.  We can get all our information delivered instantaneously on a mini computer right in the palm of our hand.  Personal branding in 140 characters or less.  Immediate gratification.  Followers, likes, shares are metrics for success. Detached, instant communication seems to be the way of the world.

I recently read an article about a young man who attempted securing employment through the “old-fashion” method of sending out resumes with not one bit of success.  He got creative and launched an online campaign including videos, a website, twitter feed and all the technology available.

His results were impressive – garnering incredible visibility and numerous inquiries from highly sought after organizations. It was a fun article to read and I congratulation him on his success. He is also the exception, not the rule.

For the majority of job seekers or career changer a resume is a necessity.  To understand why, we first have to understand the purpose of a resume and how it factors into your entire job search and personal branding.

Before we get to the resume, let us set up the foundation: if you are looking to move in, up or on in your career you are officially in sales.

Welcome to Sales

Your product is you. Before you can be successful selling a product, you must first understand it inside and out. Your target market is essentially making a major purchase in hiring you.  For intelligent buyers, they want to get all the information about a product: benefits, strengths and comparison to the competition – why it is the best of the best and what it can do for them.

Welcome to Marketing

Just do it. We’ll leave the light on for you. I’m lovin’ it. Think different. Can you hear me now? Because you are worth it. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

Marketing is essential to sales.  It incorporates knowledge of target audiences with what is important and resonates to them.  A tag line is great, but it takes a lot of knowledge, research and writing about the product in order to create something so succinct.

Your tag line is your elevator pitch or networking speech.  The in-depth research and specs about your product is your resume.

The Foundation of Your Sales Campaign

A dead resume is one that only gives facts without value.  Facts are telling the reader what you were hired to do. Value demonstrates to the reader what you did.  A good sales presentation allows the reader to see the value in their world.  It excites them to learn more.

Hired to do vs. what you did

Stating that you were responsible for all operations for a division is stating what you were hired to do.  It does not mean you were successful at it.  Stating that you oversaw the operations for a number of years also does not demonstrate value.  Length of time does not equate to value.

Value is demonstrated by a combination of stating what you did, how you did it, whom you worked with and how they benefited.  Take just one element of that operations role and answer those questions, for example, “Utilized key metrics and analysis of P&L, key location opportunities, customer service and operations as blueprint to align and mentor territory management which strategically increase revenues.”

The Importance of Writing

Writing a resume forces you do to the research on your product and interpret it into the important criteria of your target market.  It is not easy writing about yourself.  It is not easy writing value based statements.  It is however an excellent exercise to strengthen your sales skills.  It allows you do dive deeper into the value and present it from different perspectives.

The resume also serves as a tool to tell your story the way you want the reader to understand it.  If you are transitioning industries, it is important to focus on the skill set and how it transfers to the new industry. Skills sets transfer from industry, company or position.  Skill sets include relationship building, marketing, sales, communication, organization, problem solving, leadership, presentation, training etc.

These are all important conceptual reasons for a resume; however, there are reasons that you need a resume to provide to your market.

A Glance vs. an In-depth Look

LinkedIn is an incredible tool for moving in, on or up in your career.  The summary is more of a one-on-one conversation and snapshot of you with a brief history of your career.  This is a glance.  The resume provides a more in-depth look for the reader.  For a major purchase, buyers want more details, specs, examples, not just a mailer.

$6 Billion Dollars is Not a Whim

That was an estimate in 2013 of what companies spent on online recruiting tools; this includes ATS or applicant tracking systems, the systems that scan resumes for keywords and phrases.  Many large organizations depend upon these systems to narrow down the candidate pool based on hundreds of resumes submitted for one position.

Do You Have Something I Can Take a Look At?

This is a question often asked to candidates by their network.  Those in their network may know them from their previous experience; however, they want to know more.  They also realize that if they are going to refer a candidate, those that they are referring to will want more than a verbal recommendation, they want to see a list of specs for the major purchase.  You would not buy a car just because your neighbor said it was a great car.

Rebranding Campaign

Every once in a while a major corporation rebrands itself a bit, either a new logo, tagline or going after another target market.  When they do this, they launch a new campaign.  The purpose is for the audience to see them in this new light.

This is exactly the same principle when changing careers or industries.  You are rebranding yourself to align with your target.  Your network may know you from your past career or position, rebranding allows them to see you in a new light.

The resume allows you to provide them with this new campaign, selling your skills from the perspective of the position you seek, rather than the positions that you have held.

You Have Got to Get In Front of Them First

Very often I hear, “if I could get in front of someone, I can sell myself.”  Undoubtedly so, but how are you going to get in front of them?  There are many options: a personal referral, a LinkedIn connection or a good sales piece.

This sales piece is your resume.  It provides them with all the most wonderful information about you while leaving room for a conversation.  It gets them excited and interested in finding out more about you.  It is a more in-depth, demonstrated presentation that provides them with assurance that meeting with you is worth their time.

Talking is Not the Only Form of Communication

Pick a job, any job, and I would bet dollars to donuts that the phrase “good communication skills” is listed in the requirements for the position. Communication encompasses both in oral and written skills.  Candidates are evaluated by online, written and personal presence.  They are all important factors and should all align in presenting your personal brand.

I personally know people that if put in front of a polar bear could sell it ice.  They are great talkers.  But they could not interest a polar bear with a flyer.  Your resume is a communication piece.  You have to be able to sell your audience with both written and speaking persuasion.  Writing will be a factor in a position.  Like I told my son during his teenage years, you cannot talk your way into or out of everything.

Interview and Networking Preparation

In writing a resume and having it presentation ready, you are also preparing yourself for networking and interviewing.  By demonstrating the hows, whos, results and values you are setting up the most wonderful statement of all for an interview or network: “Tell me more.”

Doing the research on how you reduced costs and getting it down to a bullet point soundbite has prepared you for the conversation of what was going on before you took it over, how you approached it, how you implemented the changes, who you worked with in doing so and the results beyond the reduction of costs.  This is a great interview discussion.

Composing value based bullet points on a resume gives you a broad look at your brand and value.  From there you can create that tag line or networking speech.  You will be able to see the consistencies in where you have been and be able to summarize it in a short, poignant introduction.  You will be well versed in your value and easily adapt it to the situation.

It is a digital age, no doubt.  With just a few clicks, you can search for a new job, car and house in a desired location across the country all within a matter of moments.  You can connect with a prospective employer through LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social media streams and form a 140 character connection.

Even with all this instant connection and connectivity, do not be surprised if you hear the words, “Great, can you send me your resume?”  Take the time to do it right, it will improve your ability to generate new leads, sell your product within desired markets and capitalize on opportunities quickly by being able to say, “Yes, I can email it right now.”


 I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

 Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

 Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


 Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning or downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

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