“Excuses are the tools of the weak & incompetent used to build monuments of nothingness.. Those who specialize in them seldom succeed in anything…” ~Unknown
There are members of a select group of fraternities & sororities who are very familiar with the quote above, or some variation of it. I was reminded of it earlier this week when my nephew sent a text asking me ‘what are excuses’. My sister, who is also familiar with the quote, knew that if she sent her son to ask me, I would respond with the quote above.
Excuses are some of the easiest things in the world to manufacture, unfortunately they aren’t worth much and they do us more harm than good. When it comes to your career, what are some of the excuses you hold onto? Do you recognize them as excuses?
I remember a time when I would try to justify my excuses by calling them “reasons“. Looking back, I felt that it sounded better and made it seem like I had no control over outcomes; today I can honestly admit that I was holding myself back by using that approach.
The lack of an updated resume is a very common “reason” causing professionals to delay their career search. The myth of the “perfect” resume also tends to stop job seekers in their tracks. I refer to it as a myth because of the countless job seekers who believe that recruiters only look for a specific resume format. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you ever want to start a debate between a group of recruiters, ask them to describe the components of the ‘perfect resume‘. To take the debate further, ask them if the resume should include an “Objective”, a “Summary of Qualifications”, or if you should forego using either. Chances are, you’ll get a variety of responses from the people you ask, and they’ll support their opinions with very valid arguments. I bring this up to highlight the fact that there are a variety of opinions that exist in the Human Resources industry regarding resumes. Assuming that there is a “perfect resume format” basically implies that every recruiter & hiring manager has the exact same opinion, and that’s obviously not the case. Delaying your career search because of a desire to satisfy the needs of the entire industry will only hurt you in the long-run.
For those of you who place great value in the feedback you receive from friends that “work in HR“, keep in mind that it’s likely there are recruiters & hiring managers who assess resumes differently and might even disagree with your friends’ resume recommendations. I don’t want to discount the importance of having your resume reviewed by a professional, because in most cases it’s very valuable, but at some point you’ve gotta pull the trigger and click “submit”. That’s the only way you’re truly putting your resume to the test and giving yourself a chance. Remember, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
It’s also important to be mindful of the amount of time you take to create/update your resume. While you have good intentions, and simply want to put your best foot forward, it’s also important to be aware of the number of people running ahead of you while you’re preparing to take that first step. Ironically, holding onto your resume until it’s “perfect” may still bring about the rejection you’re trying to prevent. Instead of being rejected because of the quality of your resume, you’re rejected because the position is filled. Same outcome, and probably the same rejection letter.
Thousands of career seekers miss out on opportunities because they’re hesitant to submit their resume for employment consideration. This blog post is for those of you being held hostage by the resume feedback cycle, where everyone you ask for feedback or advice, gives you just that: “feedback and advice”. Always remember that your resume is meant to sell you when you’re not there to sell yourself. The most important feedback you receive will often come from someone involved in the hiring process for the company you’re interested in, or a Career Advisor who is familiar with the company’s needs. When you start listening to resume feedback from friends who justify their recommendations with “this is how I did my resume and it worked for me“, it’s imperative that you compare your work experience with their work experience. Your friend’s work experience may have played a larger role in their employment success than they realized. The format they used may not be the best format for you to use.
The experience you have to offer is just as important, if not more important, than the type of format you choose to use on your resume. Many experienced recruiters can spot the experience they’re looking for on a resume within seconds. They know which companies produce the best employees to target, and which position titles are the most relevant to the role they’re looking to fill. It’s up to you to give recruiter’s a chance to review your resume, and that starts with applying to open positions that interest you.
Don’t let your resume become the excuse for stalling your career growth… If you’ve worked long and hard, have several years of valuable experience, and you’re thinking about making a move, don’t hesitate to test the employment waters. Your resume is the bait, and one of the best ways to test its effectiveness is to apply for open positions. Just remember that the work doesn’t stop when you click submit, that’s actually when the real work begins… After you submit your resume, the next order of business is to get it looked at by the employer, and hopefully get a call or secure an interview. But that’s a topic for a future blog post… 🙂
Until next time…
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