Q: What inspired you to write Lose the Resume, Land the Job?
Gary Burnison: It wasn’t so much inspiration as necessity. Far too many people today—at all levels, from recent college graduates to senior executives—feel helpless and clueless when it comes to getting their next job. They feel stuck—they’re in the wrong environment, the culture is not a fit, they hate their boss. But they can’t find a way forward toward a job that’s not only a better fit but, most important, motivates them with a sense of purpose.
Q: So how can someone find a job like that?
Gary Burnison: It starts with what not to do. People automatically default to that old standby: “Let me send you my resume.” That’s as meaningless a cliché these days as “let’s do lunch” (when someone says that, you’re never going to have lunch). The same for your offer to email your resume. Unless someone genuinely wants to hear from you, your resume isn’t going anywhere. That’s why you need to “lose the resume” to land the right job.
Q: Can you really do away with a resume?
Gary Burnison: Technically, no—you still need to have one. But don’t expect it to be more than a calling card. The problem is people think that their resume accounts for 90 percent of getting a new job—I’d put it more like 10 percent. Think about it: An average 250 resumes are submitted for every corporate job. Of that, about 98 percent will go nowhere. So if you’re only sending out resumes, you’ve already lost.
Q: So what’s the secret?
Gary Burnison: First and foremost, you need to remember your ACT! Be authentic – truthfully presenting yourself, your experiences, and your background. Make a connection – forging a positive emotional connection with others. Give people a taste – of who you are, what you do, and the contribution you can make. Whether you’re networking with contacts, interacting with a recruiter, or interviewing with a hiring manager, what matters most is your ACT!
Q: Where do you start?
Gary Burnison: The first step is one that almost everybody misses: Before you look externally you have to look internally at who you are, your skills and competencies, what motivates you, where you’d be a great fit. The second step is another one that’s too often neglected—I call it “targeting your next opportunity.” It takes some real digging to figure out what you want in terms of where you want to live, the companies you admire and want to work for, and the roles and responsibilities that are best suited to you. Ideally, you are looking for that intersection where your purpose and the company’s purpose align, in an environment in which you can thrive.
Q: What happens if the job you’re “targeting” doesn’t exist?
Gary Burnison: That’s actually one of the best possible outcomes! The ideal situation is landing a job that did not exist before. Companies are always in the market for good talent at every level. Even if there are no openings or a company has a hiring freeze, the right talent can usually find a home. But it won’t happen unless you know what you want—and why you are the perfect person for the company and the role you’re targeting.
Q: What else should job-seekers do?
Everybody knows “it’s all about networking.” But they don’t do it effectively. They think networking is ambushing every possible connection on LinkedIn and pestering friends and acquaintances to help you get a job. Networking is about the other person—and that means you should be doing it long before you want to tap into your network to get a job. Focusing on others means being genuinely interested in them and helping them wherever you can.
Also, be mindful of your social media presence: Don’t let “what happens in Vegas”—and ends up on Facebook—keep you from getting a job. Do your homework before every interview. Find out everything you can about the company and the person who’s interviewing you. When you’re in the interview, keep it conversational. Tell brief stories to illustrate your points and ask good questions. Most of all, remember your ACT—authenticity, a connection, and a taste of who you are will differentiate you.
Q: And final words?
In your current job, in your next job, and the one after that, you need to have one goal: Be a learn-it-all. The most important reward from any job—more than salary, bonus or title—is what you learn. Keep in mind the 70-20-10 rule that says 70 percent of your learning and development will come from assignments that stretch you and allow you to learn new skills; 20 percent will be from other people, especially your boss. Only 10 percent will be from training and courses. Learning is all about adapting to the new and different—being open-minded and willing to find solutions that aren’t obvious. The more you learn, the more you will accomplish. And that’s the best way to “lose the resume” and enjoy the career you want.