Your Resume Is Meaningless (And Building Career Security, Not Job Security)

Resumes and some observations

Do you want an average job with average pay? Do you like following the rules? Are you content to settle for mediocre at best? If yes, stop reading here – this article is not for you.

For everyone else, read on.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: your resume is worthless. I don’t care how many accolades you have, how you graduated cum-lade with triple honors, or how you have managed to perfectly balance titles, subheads and content with 12-point Courier New font. None of this matters – at least, not to a smart organization, the kind of passionate organization you want to work for.

Yes, you have probably been taught all of your life that a strong resume is vital to getting a job. You were also probably taught this by people who were content to settle for average, and also bought into the game of being defined by a sheet of paper.

The best places to work for are literally littered with resumes. A daily, nonstop influx of electronic and mailed resumes run across the desks of top organizations globally. What does that mean for you if you’re one of those resumes? It means yours probably won’t even be looked at. Resumes are for people who want to be a cog in a machine, and are for those who think inside the lines.

Look, a piece of paper that someone spends four hours trying to perfect is not what I would want to see if I owned an organization. It’s meaningless. What would be far more impressive is if someone submitted a case study on a remarkable project, a well-crafted power point on themselves, or simply a link to a blog or website they created showcasing their work – you get the idea.

There are so many fantastic ways you can be creative in this space and prove you would dominate any of your competition in skills and value. Prove you’re exceptional through something tangible. You’ll also get the initial dialogue open much quicker this way.

Also, that cover letter you submitted along with the resume gushing praise for the organization and talking yourself up doesn’t prove a thing.

The extraordinary and the remarkable go deeper

By submitting a resume and a cover letter to an organization, you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment and mediocrity from step one. How others perceive us is simple: it’s purely based on our actions. You don’t make a great initial splash with a piece of paper. It’s just not impressive, sorry.

Assuming everything else is equal (most of us here have college degrees and great backgrounds with reputable organizations, along with references who will talk us up) – a piece of paper isn’t going to help you. If the people hiring you are merely looking at resumes to find their candidate, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

Your dream job is being held by gatekeepers who are creative and intelligent people. They want more people like themselves to work with and be a part of their organization. If you really are that special and are that candidate – prove it, show your passion, and go the extra mile.

Not job security, but career security

This advice applies to everyone looking for a job or not looking for a job. You can be perfectly happy working somewhere and still continue to build your personal brand. It’s the best thing you can do to move ahead in life and is something you should take pride in. In today’s world, being agile is the smartest move – as the economy and industries are in constant flux.

People talk about the importance of job security, but that is meaningless. There are plenty of jobs – if you’re really that good you’ll find another. Career security is far more valuable. And, you achieve career security through building a strong personal brand.

Side note: You should live everyday at your job with absolute zero fear of anything – you’ll get the best work done. Be unafraid to make mistakes and be unafraid of the consequences and you will produce the best, most interesting results that haven’t been dulled down. The rockstars at every organization are the ones more concerned with developing their skills and a career. A job is just part of this.

Here are a few steps that should help get you on your way to building your personal brand and showing the world that you are, in fact, a standout person. Yes, your current employer may know you’re great, but now that technology has enabled you to spread your accomplishments effortlessly, shouldn’t the world know?

This also moves you in the direction to be able to ditch that resume (the old way), and demonstrate clear social proofing that you’re a step above the rest (the new way).

If you’re not willing to do these steps and follow-through with them, you probably should keep the resume and continue down the path you’re headed. However, for those with true passion, you can embrace new tools to create great power, freedom and influence for yourself and allow you to soar to success in your career:

Build your influence through blogging

Influential, passionate people in all industries are blogging. The top minds have developed a following of readers and are trendsetters and thought leaders for their specific industry.

Keep case studies of all your projects

To me, these are vital to building your worth and showing what you’ve accomplished in a tangible form. If you can get permission, blog about them and share your accomplishments with your readers and the world.

Use the web to build your personal network

Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, FriendFeed, etc. to develop relationships with people in your industry who will be there for you (and you for them) when you need advice or are looking to change career paths. You need to build your network long before you need to tap it, so again even if you aren’t looking to switch jobs or fields; this is something smart to do for yourself. You also never know what kind of opportunities will float along to you through them.

Contribute articles to trade publications and industry blogs

This is a fantastic opportunity, especially if you’re still an unknown star in your industry. If you’re interesting and doing something unique – contact your industry trades and ask them nicely if they’d consider doing a write-up. You’d be surprised how open the trade writers are to work with passionate people who approach them directly. If they say no, at least you tried. Plus, there are plenty of outlets, don’t get discouraged, keep at it, and you’ll definitely find an opportunity.

Mentor/help others in your industry

This one is more for building direct, personal and strong relationships than anything you can document directly. But, the documentation isn’t the point here, the point is to give back and help those who are just starting out. Recall those amazing people who helped you when you were starting out – now it is your turn to help them. This is done purely for intrinsic reasons, and for the good of the world. I’m a huge supporter of helping people/mentoring and believe it to be one of the most important things you can do in life. I have done it in both the music world and the marketing world and it’s one of the most rewarding things a passionate person can do.

Why this matters, doing something you’re passionate about, and not wasting your life

Most people probably won’t do any of this, and continue down the path of not building their personal brand aside from adding a few new lines to a resume. This is exactly why it’s a huge opportunity for you, someone who cares about developing your personal brand in the world and creating a reputation for yourself.

I’m 25 – and I’ll be honest in what I notice about my peers across industries: most of them just do what it takes to get by and that’s it. I’m not picking on any one person in particular; I’m just saying what I observe.

And, I think the problem goes deeper – people like this simply are not in an industry that they love, but think it is too big of a step to switch (it’s not). If you don’t look forward to what you’re doing everyday, make a change. I’m not necessarily saying quit your job, but talk to your superiors and tell them, be honest, they’ll respect that. If they aren’t willing to work with you and switch you to projects you dig, they probably aren’t the organization for you anyway. There is too much opportunity and too little lifespan to waste time doing things you don’t like.

Nine to five is for people who hate their jobs. If you love your job – you get excited to work on projects and are willing to spend time passionately on them for hours on end, as the end result is exhilarating. If you’re not excited working on projects, or you’re not being compensated fairly, it is time for a change. Ask for it, and if you’re that valuable, you’ll get it.

Building your personal brand and personal network affords you the freedom to do all of this and so much more.

Related articles from The Future Buzz:

The Rise Of Personal Branding

Geeks: The New Influencers

8 Tips For Success As A Young Executive

Related articles from around the web:

Network Your Way To Job Security (Get Rich Slowly)

Build Your Network Before You Need Them (Web Strategy by Jeremiah)

When In Doubt, Don’t Follow The Money (Seth Godin)