I have this conversation frequently these days. It's usually with people who've called me to talk about my resume-writing service, so they know something is up. But this topic also comes up with friends and business associates. One of two things usually brings it up:
- I will mention an opportunity that would be just right for the other person. I say, "You should send them your resume." They say, "Oh, I don't have one." I say, "You mean you don't have an updated resume?" They say, "No, I don't have a resume at all. I mean, I did at one point but…" They're voice trails off into silence.
- I will say, "I went on your LinkedIn page and it's almost blank. What's the deal?" (I'll just interject here it's not snooping if it's on the Internet.) "Why don't you have your resume on there, along with a compelling summary of what you do?" "Oh, I don't have a resume," they say, either confidently or sheepishly depending upon their circumstances.
I want to say, "Why are you even on LinkedIn? You have 357 connections and no way that's going to turn into work for you." Sometimes I do actually say it (usually, in a gentler way), which leads to me explaining the whole point of LinkedIn and why having a resume is essential, even for them. (More on LinkedIn later.)
Yes, it's true. In the past, lots of people got freelance work – or even permanent jobs – without having a resume. There was a time that when someone who needed a graphic designer or a copy writer or a marketing consultant or even a new VP, Business Affairs would call their trusted friends and associates and their trusted friends and associates would tell them names of potential people to hire. And then the person in need would call a bunch of the referrals and ask those referrals about their experience and accomplishments. Based on that, either finalists would be asked to bid a job or come in for an interview or one person would just be hired depending upon the size and nature of the project.
Here's the thing: Word-of-mouth doesn't work as the only strategy anymore. There are too many freelancers and potential employees and, due to the internet, people's circles are too large.
And, for a big project at a big company – or a permanent position – you don't just get hired by the person who you talked to on the phone. There are people from other departments who need to sign off on you, as well as upper management in the mix. So now, each time you are brought up as a candidate, the person trying to hire you has to regurgitate everything they know about your relevant work history. If there are follow up questions ("Where'd they get their training? Have they ever done work for our type of company?"), they have to go back to you, get the information and then report back. You could see how someone with a resume would have an advantage in this situation.
Here are other people who need resumes:
- People who have had jobs for a long time who would be open to moving on. I'm not saying you have to be actively looking. These are people who want to be ready when opportunity knocks, because they know a good opportunity won't be available long enough for them to get a great resume together after they hear about it.
- Most business owners. Yes, you are your own boss but how do people know they want to use your service or invest in you or come to you with a great offer to collaborate on a project?
- Stay-at-Home Moms who need to make some cash while junior is napping. We all know those work-from-home ads are a scam. Network marketing is almost always the fast track to… making next to nothing while pissing off all your friends. But if you have a successful blog or were a very effective PTA president for three years, you could parlay that into a paid social networking or community advocate position that works for your schedule. If people know about you and what you'd done.
- YOU. Even if you are 100% happy with your current situation and you do not need nor want any additional income, you still need to be establishing and maintaining your professional reputation. There will come a time when you will need or want to make money some other way than you are now. Your job will end, your current freelance income stream will dry up, etc. You will not want to be starting from scratch.
Here's where LinkedIn comes in:
Your resume no longer sits in a drawer or gets passed from fax machine to fax machine or even by e-mail address to e-mail address. It lives on the web! LinkedIn is the best professional tool to come out of the internet age. You create an identity from yourself simply by having your excellent resume copied onto LinkedIn, along with a compelling summary of who you are and what you do. You build your reputation by commenting in relevant LinkedIn groups you belong to. You connect with people in your field. You help them, they help you.
If someone hears your name as a potential hire and Googles you, your LinkedIn profile will come up and they don't even need your resume sent to them. And sometimes people just stumble upon your profile on LinkedIn and contact you for work. (It's happened many times for me. It can happen for you.) Which is why…
A blank or incomplete or badly-written LinkedIn profile is almost worse than no LinkedIn profile at all.
So if you don't have a resume – or if your resume is not a strong representation of your career in terms of where you want to go with it – it's time to put some time into it. And then get it onto LinkedIn. It will pay-off. Trust me.
Jenny Yerrick Martin, founder of YourIndustryInsider.com, has amassed 20+ years as an entertainment industry professional including almost 15 as a hiring executive and five as a career consultant. She's become an indispensable resource for people who want to break into entertainment, as well as those in entertainment looking to reach the next level or course-correct in their already-established careers.
Thanks to Jenny Yerrick Martin / Careerealism
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