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  • Don’t Give Me Your Resume

    Are you one of those people who feels, similar to applying for jobs online, that giving people your resume is a productive job search activity?

    Let me save you the effort. Don’t give me your resume. In most situations, I don’t need it. Giving it to me will require me to find a convenient trash bin where I can dispose of it, once you are out of sight. Worse yet, I might share it with someone in a counterproductive manner.

    Whether networking, meeting new business contacts, or pursuing identified jobs, “Send me your resume” is a common request which job seekers encounter. Sometimes it seems that everyone wants your resume. Even recruiters who don’t know you from Adam. As a result, most job seekers waste valuable energy writing, rewriting, and sharing their resumes. This brings up two immediate issues… how to write the perfect resume and when to provide it to others.

    Most job seeker resumes are pretty poor and unsophisticated. Like popular music, they are repetitive and lack meaningful content. I offered help in a previous post in which I shared Five Tips for Improving Your Resume. These tips may not lead you to the perfect resume, but they will definitely help your resume become more effective and distinctive.

    But what about that other issue I mentioned… when to provide your resume to others? Should you give it to everyone who requests it? As noted in Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), I believe “delaying the presentation of your resume is a smart strategy to consider” in many situations:

    Situation 1: You are applying for a job online. I am not a fan of applying for jobs online unless you have internal contacts or have a plan for establishing such contacts. A recent job seeker asked me “Does anyone get hired anymore without having internal contacts?” Their question emphasizes the need for these. Regardless of whether you have or do not have internal contacts, you must provide your resume or most certainly risk elimination.

    Situation 2: You are networking with existing business contacts. I am not a fan of providing resumes to people just because they ask. What I want to know is WHY they want the resume and WHAT they intend to do with it. Based upon working through hundreds of job searches over the past 11 years, here are my recommendations:

    • If they want it in order to understand your credentials, engage them in a conversation by phone or in person as an alternative. A conversation will allow you to provide them the essential information they desire and any clarifications. Sending them your resume may curtail communications and put you in more peril because of misinterpretations.
    • If they want it as a tool for introducing you to a new networking contact, ask them to make the introduction without sending your resume. Ask them what information they need from you to make the introduction effectively and provide it in a concise format. Providing talking points can be far more effective than a resume.
    • If they want it in order to hand carry it to a decision maker associated with a job, then ask if they could instead make an introduction and get you in front of the decision maker. If that is not possible, then ask that they hand carry it and have a conversation with the person.

    Situation 3: You are networking with new business contacts. I am not a fan of providing resumes to new contacts just because they ask for them. I recommend you follow the same guidelines for new contacts as for existing contacts. Having said this, I recognize that new contacts may be more demanding. If they are a decision maker associated with a job you are pursuing, try to get in front of them without providing a resume. Give it your best shot!

    Most job seekers are tickled pink to distribute their resumes and post them all over the internet. These actions are of little value and can be counterproductive. I recommend you normally RESIST giving people your resume and act more strategically.

    What have been your experiences when providing your resume during job searches? Do you agree that these strategies could be of value, or do you think I am off my rocker? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


    Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).

    Richard Kirby is a Vistage Chair (http://www.vistage.com), executive coach (http://www.executivecareerconsultant.com), and author of the book/eBook Fast Track Your Job Search (http://tinyurl.com/k39rb2u). He helps business owners improve their business operations' financial performance and helps individuals improve their career financial performance. Richard is a Board Certified Coach (BCC) in career coaching and an ISO-recognized Certified Management Consultant (CMC).

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