Last week, a recent college graduate sent me her resume to get my input. As a journalism student who majored in advertising, she’s looking for jobs where creativity is key.
Overall, her resume nailed it: unique and a bit edgy. To the traditional resume reader, this resume would drive them nuts! However, because it breaks a few rules of resumes, it stands out from all the rest.
One thing she did, which is considered a “no-no” by resume experts: she used “I”.
Given the layout and creativity that went into this resume, the fact that she used “I” did not detract from her marketing document… to me, anyway. Yet we know that some resume reviewer at some old-school company might put her resume in the “no” pile for that one issue. What a shame.
Upon reflecting on this, it occurred to me that there are a lot of “rules” about resumes, letters, networking and job search in general that really should be thrown out in today’s digitally-driven job market. So here are my “new rules for the job search”:
Content Is King (or Queen)
The new rule dictates that you must give high priority to the content and relevance of a resume – and not have a hissy fit if someone gets creative or breaks a silly rule, like using “I.”
I will admit: I am one of those people who has pitched such fits in the past. I am a picky editor and believe in following style guides and conventions. However, let’s allow creativity into the realm of resumes, including (gasp) pictures and images, as long as we have a common understanding: the most important aspect of a resume is that it demonstrates the individual has the knowledge, skills, abilities, attributes and background that are relevant to the company or specific role within the organization.
It’s OK to Talk About Salary
There’s a current “rule” that spanks job seekers for bringing up salary. It’s forbidden to ask about salary too early on in the process. The new rule ponders why job seekers would even have to ask in the first place. The new rule dictates that employers must post a salary range in all job postings. And until that happens, the new rule says it’s acceptable to ask an employer the salary range before you apply.
“When hiring teams and candidates avoid dialogue about pay expectations during the hiring process, they miss an easy opportunity to confirm that the organization’s appetite to pay matches the job seeker’s financial needs,” says Chris Fleek, director of HR services at Octane Recruiting. “If there is no common ground then any time spent discussing that particular role is wasted.” Bringing up the topic of salary does not mean that you are only concerned about money. It means that you do not want to waste your time and theirs for a “vice president” job that pays $40,000 a year. Adds Chris, “Shouldn’t all involved want to make that determination as early as possible?”
Redefining the “Informational Interview”
I love informational interviews and highly recommend that every college junior and senior set up at least three informational interviews before they graduate. As a student, it’s the perfect time. Working professionals will absolutely give you the time of day, and as a student, you truly are seeking information and can benefit immensely from it. The problem is the “walking on eggshells” aspect of the info interview with rules such as “don’t give him your resume” or “don’t ask about jobs at his company.”
The new rule dictates that we will replace the term “informational interview” with “exploratory meeting.” First of all, let’s take the word “interview” right out of it, and by saying “exploratory,” it opens up the option to discuss job openings.
Nevertheless, that discussion still need to happen in a subtle way when the time is right, but let’s stop being coy with the whole informational interview process and stop pretending that the job seeker is really just on a quest for information.
“Overqualified” is Not a Bad Thing
As someone who’s over 40 (OK, you got me… I can hardly remember my 40th birthday), I’ve lost out on job offers to candidates in their early 30s. Why is experience a bad thing? Does the hiring manager, who might be younger, lack confidence? Does he or she think I’ll come in and try to take over? Do I want more money? There’s only one way to find out… pick up the phone.
The new rule dictates that HR and hiring managers must not make assumptions about candidates who are fully qualified to do the job. They must clear up any misconceptions and misgivings by making a ten-minute phone call.
Unemployed Does Not Equal Damaged Goods
As someone who’s alternated between management positions and unemployment a couple of times since 9/11, I sense a bias against unemployed people. Most of the time, it’s not overt, but I’ve observed that the communication dynamic changes from being on equal footing when employed to second-class citizen when out of work.
Other career and recruitment experts have picked up on this trend as well, citing companies that prefer to hire people who already have jobs. Kelly Blokdijk of TalentTalks brilliantly skewers the absurdity of it all in this piece in Fast Company. The new rule dictates that you must judge people holistically, using common sense and relevant factors. As with the “overqualified” new rule above, don’t make assumptions.
As someone who’s done his fair share of job seeking and a career advisor, these are the new rules I want to see my HR and recruiting colleagues follow. I look forward to your comments.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Rich Career!
About the Author: Rich Grant has a background in higher education and most recently was the director of career services at a four-year college in Maine. Currently, Rich is filling a temporary role as a career advisor and internship coordinator and serves as the president of two professional associations. Find Rich on LinkedIn and Twitter, and check out his blog where he frequently imparts words of wisdom. Comments, complaints, jokes and legal notices can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.