Why I avoid sending resumes: people say no to resumes, they say yes to people.

September 6, 2014 by Joshua
in Blog

Over the summer, after a great meeting, a well-placed woman I met began the process of offering me a job. To put me in touch with the decision-maker at the firm, she asked for my resume.

I told her I preferred not to send it.

Why did I decline to send it? The job looked great—a part-time role that would complement my personal projects, with autonomy, leadership, and the opportunity to grow. My resume looks great and well-suited for the role.

I avoid sending resumes because people don’t give final approvals to resumes. People use resumes to filter people out, not to approve them. At best a resume can get you an interview. If you can get an interview any other way, get it one of those other ways, then you don’t need the resume. Potential hirers use resumes to categorize, which is dehumanizing, and you’re lucky if they categorize you into what they want.

By contrast, in person you can talk, which you can do before, during, and after an interview. You have a dialog to learn what they want and tell them your relevant background and skills. I had met the woman recommending me for the job twice already. She met me when I spoke on a panel in front of over one hundred people on leadership and entrepreneurship, so she saw me in a professional environment. To have someone see you working effectively is one of the best ways for them to learn about you, so I felt confident about how she felt about me.

When I send resumes, it’s usually for jobs I don’t care about, putting little thoughts into sending them. Come to think of it, I think I said to her, “I only send resumes to jobs I don’t care about.” Then I talked to her about my reasoning, which I think made sense to her. She told me she hadn’t applied for a job in years and didn’t update hers either.

In the end, the decision-maker she referred me to asked for my resume, which I declined to send, and we still scheduled in in-person interview, which was all I wanted. The referral from the mutual contact counted for more than enough. Her assistant also asked me for the resume. At that point it got too hard to explain not sending it to two people I’d never met, so I sent it, feeling I was risking the opportunity, but less than not sending it after they asked twice.

I got the offer anyway. I don’t think the resume made a difference. It could have hurt but I got lucky and it didn’t.

Looking for a job makes a lot of sense. Sending resumes for cattle-call-type positions makes sense, like a free lottery ticket. But for jobs you care about, I do what I can to build relationships and get in-person interviews without a resume.

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