I've interviewed a lot of people lately...seen a lot of resumes, cover letters and recruiter intro's. Here's what I've noticed...1. the resume is no longer an effective way to get someone's attention, and 2. most resumes sell the past and convey very little about what's important to the candidate in the future.
Resumes have been around in their current form for a really long time...same formats and content, same list of past jobs, accomplishments, education and a personal tidbit or two. They're boring and don't do much to demonstrate creativity, passion or enthusiasm. Consider ditching the resume and replacing it with a very straightforward cover letter with links to your blog, a recent interview video, your Flickr feed, a PDF of an article you wrote, a podcast you released on your favorite hobby, or a project you worked on. If you're going to list past employers, include links, photos and contact information for references (no "references available upon request"...that's lazy). If you don't have some or all of what I just mentioned...you need to work on your microbrand (Hugh gives a good explanation...or write me, I'll try to help). Trust me, your competitors are. Ideally, a prospective employer should be able to type your name into Google and find the real you. Why not make it easy for them, and give them some shortcuts.
In the same letter, let the reader know what's important...to you:
- What you're looking to do next, and why
- What type of people (team) you want to be with and why
- What you would like to learn
- Where you want to live and why
Don't write these points with the target job in mind...do it beforehand and put it verbatim into every letter.
Stop trying to sell yourself and your past, and spend more time trying to get a truthful and meaningful exchange to ensure you have mutual beneficial goals and compatible core values. You'll save time, energy and money for both sides. And, everyone will be happier, no matter which way it turns out.
Update: read this really great Seth Godin post on the same subject