It’s not about the resume.

Job Search 2012

Those of you who have followed this blog know that its focus is providing common sense financial advice for college students. Sounds simple enough. But often establishing a good financial foundation following graduation means one thing – getting a job.

Recently there has been considerable discussion about the high unemployment rate, the highly-competitive market with so many applicants fighting for so few jobs, and so on. Students regularly ask me for advice as they begin their job search, and the university’s career development department does an incredible job of working with each student to help them prepare a great resume and make the proper industry contacts.

And that brings me to this important point. Recently I counseled a frustrated student who told me (paraphrasing slightly) “I’ve probably sent out fifty resumes, and I haven’t had one callback.” Therein lies the rub. It doesn’t matter what industry or what position you are interested in. The more things change, the more they stay the same. When you are looking for a job, it’s not about resumes. It’s about relationships.

Sure, I agree that the word “networking” is likely overused by faculty, student advisers, employers – you name it. But guess what? That is still the way it works. It is not necessarily an absolute requirement that you have to “know somebody” – of course that would be great. But it is clearly obvious that a simple referral or positive phone call from someone who does know the person doing the hiring can help move an applicant from an automated application tracking maze to having your resume in the hands of someone who might actually interview you. Developing relationships starts with basic networking via fellow students and instructors, active and professional social media engagement including LinkedIn profile and organizations, and simple informational interviews that allow students the opportunity to schedule appointments with company executives – not as a job search, but rather simply to find out more information regarding the company.

For many organizations, the application process is constantly evolving. In fact, some companies are bypassing resumes entirely, opting instead for screening questions that provide more insight into an applicant’s passion and motivation and questions asking applicants to demonstrate the direct application of work or educational experience to the types of duties the posted opening will require.

So if you are serious about finding that perfect job opportunity, don’t look to mass distribution of a resume and the mailbox as an answer. Handshakes and introductions trump the mailbox every time.

Happy job hunting!

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