The Real Purpose of Your Resume

The resume is one of the documents you usually submit in a job application. It’s often used by hiring companies to weed out applicants. If you keep submitting resumes and you don’t get to the next stage, the problem lies in your application.

That’s why following popular advice doesn’t help you get your dream job. It only makes it much difficult than it already is.

Understanding the Role of Resumes in the Interviewing Process

A typical interview process from an applicant’s perspective looks like this:

  1. Submit job application. This usually includes completing an application in a job portal, or sending your cover letter together with a resume.
  2. Phone screening. A 10-15 minute process done by the hiring company to verify a few details.
  3. Test. This depends largely on the role, but this could be a certification you need to submit or an actual quiz to demonstrate your technical knowledge.
  4. Face-to-face interview(s). This is the part where you are invited to the office to interview with several people. Depending on the company, this may span across multiple days or all done in a single day.
  5. Job offer. The moment you’ve been waiting for. After all the stages, you are now offered the job.

Each stage filters out applicants. This means as you move further along, people get disqualified along the process. This is the paradox you need to understand and why the interview process is designed to keep people out.

The One and Only Purpose of Your Resume

The role of your resume is to set you up for success. That’s why throughout the entire interview process, it is always referenced to. But those are supplementary goals.

The only purpose your resume should have is to get you in the door.

If you look at the typical interviewing process above, resumes (together with the job application and cover letter) are the first thing hiring companies go through. If they don’t deem it worthy, you don’t proceed with the next step in the process.

That’s why your resume is there to get you in the door. That’s why thinking that your resume is there to help you land a job or to highlight your extra-curricular activities is inherently wrong.

Companies don’t care about all those things. They need to fill a role. They only use the interview process to find the answers to these two questions:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Can you do it well?

Your hobbies and aspirations don’t answer those questions. So, they have no place in your resume.

Stop Reinventing the Wheel

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Those are written by people who want to stand out. They take popular opinion and run with it. But that doesn’t make it true.

For example, a trend that hasn’t died down is the use of video resumes. Those who advocate it think they are being creative. By itself, yes.

But if you look at the entire interviewing process and how you—the applicant who has no power at all—fits in the process, you’d find that doing so creates additional work for the interviewer. It eats up more of their time.

If you factor in the fact that interviewers don’t do this as their full-time job, video resumes count as a negative to you. Why? Because it’s selfish. For your own gain, you want the hiring manager to click a link (or a couple), watch a 5-minute video about you, go back to their tracking system, take down notes, and so much more. Instead of them simply seeing your one-page resume and deciding from there.

Don’t fall for what you see on the internet about making your resume stand out. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. Interviewers are not looking for fancy. They just want these questions answered. The easier you can help them do their jobs, the better it will be for you.

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