Five Things That Might Beat a Resume
The resume is supposed to be a relatively quick way for someone to get to know your personal and professional accomplishments, skills, interests, and the potential you have to create value in a given setting. The thing is, it’s pretty outdated. In fact, it never worked all that well, evidenced by the fact that most people do not get jobs because of a great resume but because of a personal connection. Resumes have always been a poor substitute for other, more robust ways to get to know someone. There just weren’t too many other ways once upon a time. But things change.
Today we have so many ways to paint a picture of who we are, what we love, and what we can do than we ever did before. It’s time to stop leaning on a sheet of paper with boring bullet points and begin building better ways for people to see what you’re all about. When I get resumes now I barely look at them. A quick scan, then I immediately jump on Google to find the things that give me better signals. Here are five of them.
1. Create a personal website.
This might sound daunting, but it’s doesn’t have to be. Go to WordPress, get a domain with your name in it if you can, pick a basic theme, complete an “about” page with a few photos and a bio, and write a few blog posts that update what you care about and what you do. Update it at least once a month so it doesn’t look dead. Don’t feel too much pressure if you’re not a great writer. The content is less important than that you have a site. Someone who has taken the time and developed the basic skills to set one up has already set themselves well above the crowd.
2. Have a LinkedIn profile
Most young people hate LinkedIn. So do most of the adults they spend most of their time with – teachers and professors. But in the professional world outside of academia, LinkedIn is gold. It is everything your resume is, but far less boring and with several added benefits. You need to have a profile there. It can house all your basic experience and skills and other stuff that goes on a resume, but it also has some color, endorsements, and a way for people to see shared connections, what kind of articles you’ve liked, and more. When you send a resume to someone they are going to look for you on LinkedIn whether you like it or not. If you’re not there, or if you have a shabby, out of date profile, your stock will drop.
3. Make use of Facebook and other social profiles
Everyone uses at least one social platform. Most are on Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or others. My advice here is controversial but I stand by it. Make your social media pages publicly viewable. Look, if you have something really incriminating on there someone could find it anyway if they were motivated enough. Making your profile public is a good way to keep a check in your mind on what kinds of things you may and may not want to share. This doesn’t mean your entire Facebook presence needs to become whitewashed of anything personal or fun. Far from it. That’s good stuff, even to a potential employer, and a completely polished presence is slightly disconcerting. But if you’re constantly in name-calling flame wars over political issues on Facebook, for example, that’s probably not good for most jobs and probably not good for you. Let the world see a little bit of the real you, and let that be a you you’re proud of. Again, when you send your resume people are going to look for you on social platforms anyway. They tend to get frustrated when they can see that you exist but can’t view any details without a friend request. Let them in. They’ll get a flavor for so much of the richness that a resume simply cannot provide.
4. Review books on Amazon
This is an underutilized gem. Amazon has a wonderful reviewing community, and reviews you post there under your real name have pretty decent search engine results. One thing that’s hard to gauge from a static list of activities is a person’s intellectual depth and passion for learning new things. Curious, interested people are people employers want to hire. Everyone does a few classes and clubs, but how many people read interesting books and take the time to write a review? It’s a good practice in general for your writing and thinking skills, and it really gives you an edge in demonstrating your interests and abilities.
5. Build something
Anything. Outcomes are more valuable than inputs. Products are more valuable than paper. Everyone can list activities they’ve done from date X to date Y. But what did it result in? What did you create? The ability to build and “ship” something is rare and valuable. Most people get stuck thinking about the article they want to write, the app they want to build, the event they want to run, the group they want to launch, or the painting they want to do. It takes guts, discipline, humility, and grit to actually finish it. Think of projects you care about that have a tangible, demonstrable result you can put out there for the world to see (another great use of your personal website). Saying, “I worked here” is so much less powerful than showing, “I built this”. Showing beats telling, so find more things you can show.
If these sound like interesting ideas but you’re a little overwhelmed, take them one at a time. And, of course, you can join Praxis, where we have one-on-one coaching and an intensive educational experience focused on helping you learn how to do these things and do them well.
Isaac Morehouse is president of Praxis.