Beyond the Resume? Intelligent Design for Mere Mortals

Seth Godin wrote a post called "Why bother having a resume?” in which he claims that truly extraordinary people do not require the standard job-seeking dossier. His point is that your “presentation” should include other tools to display your talents; these would include an insightful blog, fantastic recommendations from respected individuals, a sophisticated project available to be seen and touched or a reputation that precedes you.

He goes on to say that a resume is nothing but a screening tool…typically a screening OUT tool. It is subject to keyword searches and quick judgments based on a cursory scan of the document.

I think in some cases he might be correct, particularly in the case of marketing or creative people. My husband is a PERFECT example to support Seth’s point (and, thus, a shameless opportunity for promotion...but he really makes the point!). A standard resume for him just seems completely inappropriate, considering the fact that he has a blog, a CD, an entire page on YouTube of his videos and the title of “Creative Director” at a prestigious rock station in the 4th largest radio market in the country. I mean, this guy just oozes creativity and he has worked very hard to create the online tools necessary to live up to Seth’s criteria.

But what about the rest of us mere mortals?

As a CPA and a recruiter in the accounting & finance field, I believe that resumes are an unfortunate necessity. While I agree with Seth about the pitfalls of the document, I don’t think we can just afford to throw them out entirely. In fact, I would prefer to see people become more savvy about the pitfalls and leverage them.

If you know that your resume will be subject to keyword searches, then use keywords! Put some thought and effort into it. For example, I find a lot of candidates write that they are proficient with “Microsoft Office”. When I ask candidates about this, they say “well that includes Excel and Access”. True….but will your resume be discovered in a keyword search for “Excel” or “Access”? NO!

Another thing that I find on most resumes is that there is no explanation for the type and size of the companies listed. How would a reader know that Smith & Company is a CPA firm and NOT a construction company or a local realtor if you don’t tell them? Further, if it is a CPA firm, then be sure to find ways to include both the acronym “CPA” as well as the words “Certified Public Accountant” in your resume.

One point that we can take from Seth’s post is to leverage whatever online content we do have available to support our candidacy. This could include a write-up of an accomplishment in an online newsletter (maybe a sales target or an operational goal) or a review of a speech you gave or even just your LinkedIn profile with at least one (preferably more) genuine recommendations for each position you have listed.

Seth, is correct….now let’s work around the problem intelligently.

This content was previously published on

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