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Seth Godin Is (Still) Wrong About Your Resume

August 8, 2012

Seth Godin is one of my mentors. Everything the man says is pure marketing genius. He probably even orders coffee at Starbucks more awesomely than you or I do.

I have to disagree with him, however, on one of his posts I read recently, “Why Bother Having a Resume?” Four years, and several technological advances later, he’s still just wrong when he tells readers “you shouldn’t have a resume at all.”

Of course, my call out of my mentor isn’t epic like a Darth Vader vs Obi Wan “Now, I am the Master!…” showdown. For one, Godin is just a virtual mentor to me… I’ve never met him in person. And I have nowhere near his business gravitas.

However, telling internship seekers they don’t need a resume sends job and internship seekers in the wrong direction – perhaps to the internship search Dark Side? – and should be clarified.

Godin says:

A resume is an excuse to reject you.

Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

This opinion is quite simplistic. Until employment seeking evolves to a next level… “job search 3.0” we’ll call it, perhaps… the resume is still necessary.

It’s a tangible summary of your skills… an accessible list of your accomplishments… a prognostication of what you will do for the employer, not just what you have done. Your resume and your accompanying cover letter must be concise, targeted to the position and in every way, perfect.

Contrary to Godin’s assessment, sending a resume doesn’t mean you’re average or destined to toil in the black hole of a giant corporation. There are thousands of fantastic startups and non-profits that would love to review resumes from intern candidates, hire them, mentor them and help them to excel! Many of these are far above average internships at far above average companies… and yes, you deserve every bit of that!

That’s where Godin’s opinion becomes part metaphor for most of us.

Godin says:

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 up?

Without saying it directly, Godin seems to infer that job and internship seekers may not need to forgo the resume entirely, but they certainly should not rely on it solely. Networking both online and IRL, personal branding through social media and blogging are far more powerful means through which most people get hired than simply sending resumes.

He encourages readers to go beyond the resume:

If you don’t have those, why do you think you are remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have those, you’ve been brainwashed into acting like you’re sort of ordinary.

In Godin-land, the resume seemingly becomes secondary… that a resume automatically makes you “ordinary”. The real-world reality, however, is that the resume is still THE introduction mechanism used by 99% of recruiters and hiring managers – and without one – it will be hard to get a foot in the door, whether we’re spectacular or ordinary.

Another fine post, Obi Wan Godin. I disagree with your opinion and felt clarification was required… but you are still Mentor and Master.

About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Community Manager and Content Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s overall “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Alan Brunton permalink
    August 8, 2012 10:37 pm

    I too am a fan of Seth as one of my virtual mentors too. I think you both are right. Seth is right in an idealistic world. In an ideal world everyone will know of your accomplishments and your worth to the goals of a company, but you are correct in the real world. In the real world, resumes are the quickest way to narrow down the tremendous amount of Job Seekers. Food for thought – I wonder who invented the resume, when, amd why. Did George Washington have to submit a resume before being elected President of the United States?

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