Once upon a time all you had to do to land your next job was share your resume with your network. Sadly, those days are mostly gone. Your resume can no longer serve you as an effective networking tool – here are 4 reasons why.
- Resumes are too focused to work for networking purposes. The best networking tool these days is one that gives your readers a big picture perspective of your strengths and experiences. While your resume hopefully does that, it does so within the context of a specific role (or should, at any rate), which means it doesn’t fully convey all of your career options and interests.
- Resumes are written for specific targets, not general audiences. Resumes are supposed to be written with 4 specific audiences in mind: recruiters, hiring executives, HR professionals, and Applicant Tracking Systems (the databases that analyze and store incoming resumes). Yet much of your network is probably made up of folks who don’t fall into these 4 categories.
- Resumes are infused with industry-specific key words. In order for your resume to rank high when searched by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs), it needs to contain industry-specific key words. These terms will slant your resume in the direction of a tightly focused series of roles. But if you are also looking for other kinds of positions, this will not be at all clear from your resume, which means your network will not fully understand what you need from them.
- Resumes don’t convey all of your career options and interests. A resume’s job these days is not to present your career options and interests to your readers. Rather, it is to convince prospective employers why you’re a great candidate for a specific role. Yet the requests you’ll be making of your network will center on opening up new opportunities. How can the folks in your network help you with this unless and until they see a document that showcases your strengths and options in a way that makes sense to them?
So if your resume is no longer an effective tool to use when networking, what is? I recommend one or more of the following:
- 1-Page Networking Resume: A networking resume is shorter, more general, and less key word-driven than a resume used to pursue specific positions. While it still presents your brand, experience, credentials, and achievements, it does so in abbreviated fashion that demands a clear purpose, lean language, and an unerring ability to eliminate what does not serve your networking.
- Marketing Brief: For years resume writers have pointed out that a resume is like a brochure with you as the product. Well, if that’s the case, a marketing brief is like a product fact sheet that presents the highlights of your career on a single page. Like a networking resume, a marketing brief will showcase your brand, experience, credentials, and achievements, well, briefly. But unlike a networking resume, it may do so more visually. The briefs I create for clients often contain graphics, images, graphs, charts, or text boxes to help networking contacts quickly understand how they can help you in your search.
- Brand You™ Bio: When most people think of a bio they think of those boring blurbs found in profiles, LinkedIn, and on company “About” pages. By a “brand you” bio I’m referring to a different kind of document which is a bit longer (1 page in length), promotes your brand, includes a photo, and organizes text in a way that makes it easier to read and grasp. A brand bio engages your reader and helps them see you differently.
For executives and mid-career professionals who have 15 or more years of experience one of these documents is vital to helping you maximize your networking. With millions of folks still out of work and actively or passively looking for their role, you need every edge you can access to make the most of your networking contacts. An effective networking tool can help you to open doors, jumpstart conversations, and attract new career opportunities. And isn’t that what you’re hoping for?