Why bother having a resume?

I'm not usually a big fan of Seth Godin's guruish pronouncements, but I thought this one was a pretty good encapsulation of what it means to be a public professional or a public academic in the 21st century.

In other words, Why bother having a resume?

If you don't have a resume, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?

Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?

Or a reputation that precedes you?

Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow

And we shouldn't kid ourselves that we aren't all public professionals these days. Even if the public we're focusing on isn't the whole world but rather the public of our communities or our institutions.

Sure, you still really do have to have a resume of some sort, but online reputation and presence more important than ever -- and that includes things like project portfolios, blogs, Twitter feeds and all the rest.

And no, this isn't a call to "watch what you say."

It's a call to authenticity.

6 responses so far

  • bill says:

    Bollocks. We can't all be "spectacular" and "amazing" and able to piss rainbows and burp the national anthem. This rah-rah bullshit is a kind of runaway inflation for personal interaction. If you're not "remarkable", if you're not "great" -- well, I guess you won't be getting a job with Seth Godin any time soon. The good news is that out here in the real world, a well crafted resume and cover letter will still get you a real job.

  • Mike Licht says:

    A "sophisticated project," "reputation that precedes you" and "compelling and insightful" blog may get inquiries from employers. What will you send with those letters of recommendation, the URL of your LinkedIn profile? Better tweak that resume.

  • Carter says:

    Why have a resume? Because most employers insist on them. Period.

    Without a resume, you'll never get the first chance to dazzle most employers or prospects with your sophistication, insight, and shiny polka-dot aura.

  • Constance Reader says:

    Because no hiring body is going to actually exert the effort or spend the time necessary to investigate the blog, the project, the reputation, etcetera. They want a two page, quick read with all the right buzzwords that they can scan and justify when the recipients of the new hire ask "Why the hell did you even INTERVIEW this person??"

  • John Dupuis says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the input. And yes, I do agree that 99% of all the people out there applying for 99% of all the jobs in the market will do so with resumes. Similarly, and trust me from personal experience, when you're hiring and you get a zillion applications you're not doing social media/network searches for very many of the candidates.


    When we're hiring professional positions, I at least do some online searching about the top candidates. I also appreciate being able to actually see something the candidate has done, read what she has to say about issues of the day.

    One of the reasons I'm not so fond of Godin is his black & white view of the world, one that I try to avoid myself.

    Could both of us have titled our posts something like, "Why you shouldn't just rely on a resume to get a job these days, especially if it's creative class jobs that nice Richard Florida is always talking about?"

    But where's the fun in that?

    And I certainly take heed of the fact that I should have been more clear in my post about the kinds of jobs that this strategy would apply to as well as perhaps been more clear that I really think it's about "resume and" rather than "instead of resume."

  • herky stubby says:

    Having a resume is a very big plus! Specially when the format of your resume and its content is very organized. Very direct to the point. Very clear that you are interested on the job you are applying for. Its alright to just bring recommendation letters but having your own resume is something.

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