The Anti-Resume Revolution, Angela Lussier’s entrance into the literary world, is a wonderful little book that touches on a major shift taking place in the work world today, the gist of which is this:
Few are in it for the long haul anymore; employees are looking for stepping stones, and employers are looking for solutions to today’s challenges.
With rare exception, the 30 year “employee/employer” relationship is a thing of the past. People are looking for “resume builders” more than careers, and companies are responding in kind. Which means that employee turnover is a very real part of our business landscape. And, as if determining ideal “fit” wasn’t hard enough as it was, email and online job postings mean we are virtually inundated with options – both as employees and as employers. Thankfully, some professionals (like Lussier) understand the changing work dynamic, have learned how to best navigate it and are willing to share their knowledge with the rest of us.
The Shotgun is Broken
"Don't just ambush HR managers' desks with resumes. Keep your search targeted, and know what you're aiming for."
It used to work. As job seekers, we could print off a hundred copies of our resumes and walk door to door, handing them out to all the businesses in our neighborhood. When the opportunity to connect between employers and employees was limited to these guerrilla tactics or a high priced placement company, you actually stood a shot if you simply got in front of enough people. Even in the early days of the internet, the digital version of the same approach (email-blasting out your resume to every job posting you found) worked for some. We called it the “shotgun approach”, and sadly (gladly?) those days are over. Employers aren’t limited anymore. Now, a single job posting on workopolis.com or monster.ca can now garner several hundred emails in its first day. Which means what, exactly, for you?
If you’re a job seeker (either unemployed or looking for a new opportunity), it means you need to understand that your 8.5″ x 11″, Times New Roman font resume, chronologically listing all your past work experience is no longer the ticket to your dream job (if it ever was). You need to stand out – you need to be fresh, different, and exactly what your dream employer is looking for.
If you’re an employer, it means that a single, bland job posting on one of the employment sites could easily drown you in standard, nearly identical resumes that will leave you doubtful that you’re making the right hire at all.
Regardless of which side of the table you’re on, the name of the game is quality over quantity. The shotgun is broken. The ease with which people can send and receive information has rendered the manila application process overwhelming and obsolete. The good news is that you now have choice. Glorious, virtually limitless choice. Job seekers have more opportunity than ever before, and employers have access to more potential employees – the right employees – than they could possibly manage. Which is to say, the opportunity to find your dream job (and dream employee) is greater than ever. But it takes some planning.
Know Thy Audience
"Good communicators get ahead because they understand the importance of knowing their audience and use that knowledge to influence others."
Who are you trying to talk to? Have you taken a moment to define your ideal candidate? Before you look for a new collaborator (company or individual), you need to answer four questions:
- Who are you looking for?
- Why are you looking for them, in particular?
- What do you suppose they are looking for?
- Why are they looking for that?
What may have always been true at a senior management level is now becoming applicable to all levels of business – Employment is becoming more of an agreement between two equal parties than it is an individual grovelling for a job. We all have choices. No employee worth their salt wants to work for a boring company, and no driven business wants a “typical” employee. When you understand that you are half of a two part equation, you can start to tailor your “pitch” (convincing the other party that you’re worth talking to) in a meaningful way that appeals to your target market specifically.
Think about what you really want. Think about who’s offering that. Think about what they want. Act accordingly. Don’t waste your time sending out fifty generic resumes, when you can have way more impact with five highly targeted ones.
"Send an actual card or postcard and really blow them away."
We’ve already touched on it – technology allows for the greater flow of information. We all know this, inherently. The challenge with information is that it lacks soul. Email and social media may be great tools for efficiency, but they lack something in personality, “memorabilty” (yes, we coined that one) and impact. Nothing replaces real, three dimensional contact in the physical world. If you want to be remembered – if you want to stand out – go beyond what’s expected. Step outside the digital world. After a meeting, send an actual thank you card. Even if samples of your work are available online, bring actual samples (printed or three dimensional) with you to an interview. Understand what your audience is looking for, then create something – something real, and one-of-a-kind – that specifically appeals to their needs or desires. Get them (whether “they” are a potential employer or potential employee) excited to know you.
This approach will require some time. It will require some creative effort. It will require thought, reflection and planning. But that’s what it takes to stand out in the crowd and appeal you to the people and companies you want to connect with. It takes work. Whether you feel that work is worth it is entirely up to you.
I liked Lussier’s book. The Anti-Resume Revolution is fresh, fun and written with Lussier’s quirky personality front and centre. Most importantly, of course, it’s chock full of great ideas on when to bend (and in some cases completely destroy) the pre-conceived and highly antiquated beliefs about job searching. A must-have for anyone in transition right now, The Anti-Resume Revolution is also a great resource for HR professionals, small business owners, and anyone else who ever has a hand in the recruiting process.
The business world is changing. Books like this will help those daring enough to act differently to stay ahead of the curve.