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Being someone that just entered the job market about 2 months ago after graduation from a four year school, I placed the emphasis on creating a résumé to give to potential employers. In fact, I even met with some of my universities “career development” professionals that help me craft and hone my résumé, making sure that it was the best it could be.

But according to many of the tech, productivity, and social media experts online, my résumé was all wrong. According to many of these outlets I shouldn’t even be using a résumé at all.

I consider myself to be a tech-geek type of guy, trying to keep up with the latest and greatest stuff online and in the technology realm. But I notice most times that many of these “experts” online give advice that they and their direct colleagues hold to be true and not what the mainstream still knows to be true.

The résumé is dead… sort of

The social media experts will tell you that the résumé is dead, and that if you are trying to get a job in today’s market that using one will not only get you overlooked, but will almost guarantee you not to get a job.

That’s not entirely the truth.

The idea that the résumé is dead could be true in some fields, like graphic and web design, marketing and social media jobs, some development and programming jobs, etc., but to say that it is dead (period) is pretty hyperbolic.

So, here is what these experts should really be telling you:

“A résumé alone is in bad company”

Why you need more than a résumé

Listen, if you are going for a position in the aforementioned fields, then making something other than a résumé is the right thing to do. But, if you are in the other 90% of applicants in the world in other fields you have to have a strong résumé along with some other things.

I will give an example of something I know the best, software development. When applying for a programmer analyst or developer type of position it’s important to have the following things:

  • A strong résumé. Also ditch the “objective” section, that is so 2000′s. Instead consider using an “executive” or “skills” summary where you highlight what you are the best at right off the top. It helps when HR people are going through hundreds if not thousands of candidate profiles.
  • A creative, well thought out, custom, cover letter. Cover Letters is where you can show some more about yourself that isn’t in your résumé and where you can show your communication skills. Also, if you have heard of the position through someone in the company, this is a good place to name drop. Yeah, maybe a little sleazy, but it works.
  • Information regarding your current or latest projects. Including a link to your site or online profiles at GitHub or Codeplex (remember for software developers) is an awesome way to show potential employers that you are busy and that you really love to do what you are applying for.

Giving your employer some stuff to pick through rather than just a simple résumé will surely get you noticed. I remember how interested my potential employers were when I had that I wrote about technology and software and included links to some of these writings.

Remember, it isn’t that hard to stand out from the status quo; anything more than a résumé and dinky cover letter will do the trick.

How to hone your résumé to be the best it can be

Since you need a résumé for most “mainstream” type of jobs, you need to make sure that it is honed and looks awesome. I don’t agree with the “social media experts” that employers will laugh at the idea of sending in a résumé in 2011, but I do agree that they will if you don’t meet the following criteria in your résumé.

  1. No spelling mistakes. Seriously, NO SPELLING MISTAKES. Checking for spelling errors is cheap. If you have spelling errors on your résumé you should consider it to be complete garbage.
  2. No cliché and run-of-the-mill résumé sayings. If you have “strong interpersonal skills, productivity skills, and communication skills”, that’s pretty cool. But don’t write it like that. Cookie-cutter sayings are noticed a mile away by HR professionals. Be creative and avoid clichés like the plague.
  3. Length doesn’t really matter. Many people argue about this but in reality having a two page résumé is pretty good. I don’t agree with the idea of student coming out of college only having one page résumé. To me that means you really haven’t done enough. Coming out of school mine was about a page and three quarters and after talking to a few HR reps in large companies that looked it over, they all agreed that the length was good. Don’t worry about length, worry about content.

So, the next time you are online looking for a job just see how many companies don’t require a résumé; it won’t be many. Unless they are social media companies. But, if you want to make sure that you résumé is kept up with the times, try to include more than just a simple, dull, boring résumé with cover letters and links to other work online.

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