Why I Tossed Out My Resume

If you’re looking to hire me for either a full-time or project-based position, you should be aware of something: Don’t ask me for a resume. I’m done with it. I’ve prepared Slideshare presentations and website pages for full-time opportunities and client pitches, but my resume has been gathering dust. If you’re reading this as a job seeker and you’re also involved with creative, entrepreneurial and outside-the-box industries, you should do the same.

My reasoning is twofold, and the first reason is a simple one: Over seven years, my resume has done nothing for me. On its own, my resume has never once landed me a job, gotten me an interview or even received the time of day from recruiters. It’s not because my resume is poor; there’s a lot of excellent work experience to put on it. It’s because in our competitive marketplace insiders get hired. Consider this quote from a headhunter:

When I’ve been in management positions, I’ve preferred to interview and hire people through my trusted network of friends and professional contacts. If I get unsolicited e-mail that cannot cite the path the person took to get my name, it’s almost guaranteed to end up in the trash.

Whether they’ll admit it or not – whether or not they’re even consciously aware of it – every single person responsible for hiring other people thinks and behaves this way. Why wouldn’t they? When it comes down between two qualified candidates, one of whom has a vote of confidence from someone you like and trust and another who arrived blindly by E-mail, hiring is such a big responsibility and financial commitment that you’ll take the recommended candidate. It’s an edge that resumes can almost never defeat and certainly one that they can’t replicate or compete with.

This, of course, assumes your resume is even read by human eyes. Resume scanners are more prominent than ever. Consider the volume of resumes being sent to any mildly competitive company in addition to each applications being screened by resume scanners. There’s also the fact that recruiters are so busy that they’ll barely have time to skim your resume if they even read it, and the fact that you’ll be competing with equally qualified people who have been moved to the front of the line by an insider connection.

When you consider the massive bureaucracy that job hunting with a resume has become, a blind resume submission has the impact of pissing into an ocean. The resume you spent hours carefully crafting, editing, fine tuning and tweaking will be lost in an abyss of other E-mails, never to be read or noticed. If that’s not a waste of your precious time, I don’t know what is.

In the situations where I have received leads through friends about job openings, I’ve only ever been asked for a resume after an initial phone call or E-mail session, by which time I’ve usually made a good first impression. At that stage, what’s the point of asking for a resume at all? People have websites like mine, or About.me profiles, or LinkedIn pages. They provide the exact same information as a resume, as does a ten minute phone call detailing someone’s qualifications. Resumes do not exist in a bubble where the information on them or how that information is unique or sacred, especially if someone maintains an active online presence.

Now for my second reason I’d like to address the types of companies who claim to be dynamic, unorthodox and open thinking, and who reportedly seek out creative thinkers and talented, original applicants: If you will only consider resumes and actively penalize applicants who have more unorthodox means of displaying their work experience and qualifications, you are undermining your own mission.

People have gotten creative with resumes in the past decade that would never have been possible ten years ago. People are creating entire websites to work for Airbnb, producing videos to work for Google, and creating entire freaking video game expansion packs to land jobs at hot developers like Bungie. Do you think these people would have been hired, let alone noticed had they just fired off a resume and called it a day? Would you have noticed them? More importantly, would you actually have turned them down because they didn’t submit a conventional resume? If you’re truly interested in these types of talented applicants, demanding that they conform to a generic method of application is the opposite of what you should be doing.

In a world where inside connections get jobs rather than resumes, resumes are a handicap. They’re a way to display information in a standard and inoffensive but also completely unremarkable way. If anything, you should actively be encouraging people to just E-mail you and see what they come up with. A resume makes it harder to gauge the determination and talent of an applicant. If someone created an entire website with a detailed marketing plan for you, resume or not, you should be giving them attention if you consider yourself an entrepreneurial company.

My resume never got me anywhere and it’s gathering digital dust. I won’t miss it, and if you keep in mind that all it will ever go during a blind submission process is the trash, neither should you. If you’re an applicant, get creative. If you’re a company, stay open minded.