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Peter Neilson shouted from his soapbox... ;-)
> Over the years I've used a resume format in MS Word or in
> vanilla text that I thought looked pretty good. About eight
> years ago I began to feel that HR departments at possible
> employers weren't exactly reading it, but instead were
> stupidly scanning it for buzzwords. So I raised that
> question with a recruiter, suggesting that it was a very
> bad idea, compared with having a human being read it, and
> that certainly nobody would *actually* do that.
> So for years, I guess, NOBODY has been reading resumes that
> I've submitted. Instead they are relying on grinders that
> ruin whatever they digest, but usually do not show the
> applicant the resulting mess. It's enough to give me a bad
> case of paranoia. I think the only way to get in the door
> now is to know somebody inside.
> Please, somebody tell me this is just a bad dream!
Well I can't tell you it is all a bad dream, but I can confirm one of
your theories about knowing (or at least contacting) someone on the
inside of the company.
If you're in a contract position that you know you'd rather not renew or
if you have reason to believe (corporate economics, work environment,
etc.) that you're looking for a change in a few months, identify several
companies that you would like to work for (based on reputation, your
knowledge of them, people you know working there, etc.).
Then do whatever you can to try to find out the names of executive-level
decision makers in those companies. Many public companies have this
information listed on their web site; some private companies may also
publicize this information. If not, look for opportunities to visit
trade shows, exhibits, or seminars where executives from this company
will be presenting or will have a booth to display products, literature,
or promotional items.
Get the names and e-mail addresses of these decision makers and send
them personal e-mail messages. Tell these decision makers you'd like to
work for the company and give them a specific reason why. Tell them that
you would like to interview for any positions that might be available in
the [place desired department here] group; also say that you can provide
a resume, a portfolio of your previous work, and provide your contact
Two things that are key here: ALWAYS have a portfolio of your previous
work available (if you are writing proprietary / confidential material
you can always _SHOW_ samples to prospective employers in an interview
but you can never _GIVE_ them copies to keep), and NEVER send your
resume unsolicited to someone outside the HR Department of a company.
Now, doing this may not get you an interview with the company, but it
will do several things that may be even more useful if you ever do
interview with the company: 1) it will make executives of the company
aware of you; 2) it will demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of
the company; 3) it may start a dialog with a key decision maker (doesn't
matter if he or she is in the department you will ultimately work for or
not, but the closer that person is to the department, the better); and
4) it may give you a powerful advocate and/or ally within the company
whenever you do go to interview.
Ultimately, what this approach does is it gets people inside a target
company wanting to meet and interview YOU for a new or vacant position.
Often executives that receive letters of interest like this will pass
them along to the HR department if they have a new or vacant position,
and will have them contact you for a copy of your resume. In this case,
you can submit your resume in whatever form you like without having to
worry that some online or automated system will chew it up, mangle its
content, shred it, and reconstitute it as a recipe for chocolate chip
cookies instead of an employment resume.
Good luck! And remember that for a company, interviewing candidates for
a position to fill is just as tedious and potentially anxious as job
hunting is for an individual. By making direct contact with
executive-level decision makers within the company, you can make it
easier for them to identify motivated, interested, and qualified
candidates that will go "above and beyond" what is required to get the
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