If your resume looks as if it could have come from 20 years ago or it just hasn’t been put together carefully–with good attention to what your targeted employers are probably looking for–it most likely will end up in the resume “black hole” trap. The same goes for submitting it to employers without doing any research beforehand to see if your background makes sense for the company. Yet another black hole mistake is distributing your resume with a generic cover letter that does little, if anything, to give the employers a reason to read it OR the resume.
What is the resume “black hole” trap?
We all know that in science, a black hole basically swallows everything that comes close enough to be drawn into it–and doesn’t let anything escape back out again. When you rely on resume writing that doesn’t do justice to your experience and your potential value to employers, doesn’t show that you are not only living but working in the 21st century, and so on, you are aiming your resume right at that black hole as it applies to the job search process. You will be submitting your poorly thought-out resume to employers who will, at best, dump it straight into their vast and growing database; at worst, the resume won’t even make it into that location. What you almost certainly won’t get is anything in the way of a return trip–i.e., a meaningful response or reaction from the employer.
How to avoid the resume “black hole” trap
While there’s no 100% guaranteed process–no foolproof steps you can take–you can certainly increase your chances of not getting swallowed. In some of my previous posts, I’ve mentioned a few of the actions you can and should take. One I might not have mentioned is to give employers an indication that you are current on technology related to the overall category of social media. If, for example, you have a good LinkedIn profile, consider including the link to your profile in the contact information at the top of your resume. The same goes for places like Twitter–but DO be careful that whatever content you already have in those places is professionally presented or at least neutral in nature (e.g., no wild party stories or photos!). Otherwise, you might just help your resume get into the black hole faster!
Make your cover letter a strong resume add-on
I hope no one these days sends a cover letter that says, in essence, “here’s my resume; I hope you like it”! A professional cover letter is not the same as a file transmittal sheet. It must quickly and clearly indicate to the reader that you are a promising candidate for the company’s open position and have substantial value to offer. While it shouldn’t just repeat information verbatim from the resume, it can and sometimes should reference and expand on items that are in that document. Above all, it should help encourage readers to give thoughtful consideration to your resume by distinguishing you from the multiple other candidates they’ll be seeing.
P.S. Have you updated your resume lately? If not, the start of a new year is a good time to do that! What have you done since the last time that isn’t in there and should be?