You should be getting the idea that you really are a product for sale just like any other product. It is important to develop a marketing plan to help you sell your product in a practical, professional way.
This process is common, something most of us have done. It is called advertising. We are advertising that the car is for sale, in the hope that someone will want to buy it. The process of finding a job in the private sector is no different from selling that car. It requires you to develop an advertisement, devise a marketing plan, and set that plan in motion so that you let as many people as possible know you are available for work.
Why Do I Need a Resume?
Your personal advertisement is the resume. Many veterans don't think they need a resume. Indeed, some experts counsel job seekers not to have resumes or to write something different from a resume. Such advice, we believe, is misguided, for the resume traditionally is central to the American job search. Most classified ads say, "Send resume." All headhunters want a copy of your resume. All leads you uncover in your networking will say, "Send me a copy of your resume." Are you going to say you read a modem job-search book that's down on resumes and that, therefore, you don't have one?, Fat chance. If you are going after a significant position, you want to reach as many people as possible. The resume helps you do that effectively.
Thus, your resume will be the centerpiece of your job search. It can serve as your calling card. It can function as a sales piece in a mass mailing campaign. It will accompany every letter of transmittal you send out inquiring about employment possibilities or responding to an advertised position. Your resume will get the ball rolling.
Your resume will not, however, get you a job. Think about it a minute. If someone saw the advertisement for the car you were selling, he wouldn't call you and say, "Hey, this is exactly the car I am looking for. Send it over and I'll have a check for you." More likely, the potential buyer would come over to look at the car first. He would sit in the driver's seat, kick the tires, and then look under the hood and pretend he knew what was going on under there.
Your resume will operate the same way. It will serve as your advertising piece, selling you and your skills to prospective employers. It will serve as the major way you have to alert those employers that you are available.
Obviously, the purpose of the car advertisement is to create interest, to get someone to come over to kick the tires. It should make someone want to see the product, allowing you the opportunity to sell it to them. The same principle applies to your job search. Your resume will spark some interest in prospective employers to call you for an interview, so that you can come in, all dressed up, and get your tires kicked.
Back to your index card
You've probably seen some in the exchange that have tons of words on them. You have to stand there and read the doggone thing, searching for the crucial information that it's a red Porsche 911 with 25,000 miles for just $12,000. Other index cards, however, stand out and invite your attention. Resumes, as you will learn, are no different. Your market is the human resource manager who doesn't have a lot of time to spend on your resume and is interested only in your qualifications and your ability to do the job. Most employment managers we know will screen a pile of resumes to determine which ones they will come back to and read. This screening process takes about thirty seconds per resume. The manager scans each one and puts it on one of two piles: the I-like-it pile and the reject pile. In that first thirty-second screening you must wind up in the I-like-it pile in order to have any chance of getting that important interview. Almost 75 percent of the resumes received in response to advertising are discarded. These people never receive an invitation for an interview. After the in-depth review, a much smaller number of candidates get invited for an interview, maybe as many as 10 percent, but more likely as few as 1 percent.
A company that runs an advertisement for a significant position in a major metropolitan Sunday newspaper can generally expect to receive up to a hundred replies. They sometimes receive as many as a thousand. They can really only interview somewhere in the neighborhood of ten people for the position.
That means that between 90 percent and 99 percent of the respondents will never get called. Your job is to figure out how to be one of those, 1 percent to 10 percent who get the call.