474: Stop Focusing On Your Resume And Start Building Relationships 

If you’re hoping to make a change to meaningful work, writing a super amazing resume isn’t the magical trick that’ll make it happen, but forming the right relationships just might be your rabbit in the hat.


on this episode

When it comes to finding meaningful work, relationships are in & resumes are out! Turns out if you’re looking to make a change to more fulfilling work, your paper resume is actually pretty irrelevant in the career change process. 

Aligning your experience with a new role or a new industry is possible. You can have a meaningful, fulfilling career that pays well, but trolling job boards with your resume isn’t going to make it happen. 

On this episode, Liz & Ang discuss kickstarting your career change to meaningful work by proactively building relationships… and ditching your resume (just kidding… sort of).

What you’ll learN

  • Why building relationships will get you farther than your resume 
  • How to align your experience with a new role and pivot your career
  • How building relationships can help you test drive new career opportunities
  • Where resumes actually matter in the career change process

Success Stories

My favorite part of the career change boot camp was actually having some of those conversations and getting feedback and positive feedback about strengths. And to me that was key, because in that moment, I realized that my network not only is a great for finding the next role, it also is helpful to… they help you remind you who you are and who you will be in your next role, even if the current circumstances are not ideal.

Elizabeth , Digital Marketing Analytics Strategist, United States/Canada

If you're looking for a change, if you're somebody who is feeling unsatisfied in your work, and you're not necessarily necessarily sure why that is yet, I feel like, that's a great way to kind of figure that out, just because of how the program is structured. I don't think that I would have necessarily gotten to where I am now without the program, especially when it came to the resume and the interviewing portion, because I feel like those are the hardest two areas for someone who's trying to switch into something that's completely different. Having that coaching and that information, and, you know, all those resources available to me to prep me for to be able to present myself in a way where, you know, I'm talking to the hiring managers, and they're like, hey, well, you know, she doesn't have, you know, experience in this, but, you know, being able to explain why I'm still a valuable person and why, you know, my other skills are still good fits for, you know, the job that I was applying for, I don't think I would have had that tools and that skill set and, you know, the roadmaps and the guidance that I would have, that I had with being part of the program. So I'm super, super grateful.

Alyson Thompson, Client Success Specialist, United States/Canada

Liz McLean 00:01

If you are using your resume as the thing that helps you switch, what that's doing is putting you into a pool of other candidates. You're being evaluated based on that piece of paper, and they may have a traditional background in that career already with a good 20 plus years experience.

Introduction 00:28

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:47

Okay, it's Scott. But you're not going to hear from me in this episode, because I'm taking some of our HTYC advice, and I'm stepping away from work. And this time for an entire month to be able to spend time with my family, and unplug. So I'm not going to be on this episode, or the next few. I am leaving you in great hands, of the Happen To Your Career podcast team, I know you're gonna love it.

Angela Barnard 01:09

Hey guys, it's Ang. I'm one of the coaches on the Happen To Your Career team. And today, we have me and Liz. Hey, Liz.

Liz McLean 01:18

Hey, Ang.

Angela Barnard 01:19

So we're going to answer a question that we often get asked, and this question is, "do I need to rewrite my resume to switch careers?" So a lot of people that we're working with don't have a ton of experience in the career that they want to switch to. That's a very common thing with the people that we're working with. So this question comes up a lot. And it may come as a surprise to you, but we, as a career coaching company, spend very little time on resumes. And I really think this is what makes us so different because we focus on another "R" word, instead, which we're going to talk about here. But I want to kind of dive in deeper to why we don't spend as much time on resumes. So Liz, tell us, why do we not focus on resumes?

Liz McLean 02:10

That's a really good question, and we do hear all that often. I'm going to take it from the standpoint or the context of the question that came to us in terms of switching careers, like, is this something that I need to do as part of the process? And we're like, "maybe", but usually, the answer is like, "maybe and way later". Usually, that's what we're talking to clients about, and that's why we ended up not talking about it very much. So let's play this out, Ang. And Scott talks about it a lot too, in our materials and Career Change bootcamp. But if you are using your resume as the thing that helps you switch, what that's doing is putting you into a pool of other candidates, you're being evaluated based on that piece of paper, and they may have a traditional background in that career already with a good 20 plus years experience. Now, when you're playing that game, you're not going to be able to compete, it's just the facts, because it's just comparing pieces of paper. You may though, be a hiring manager in real life, that would be like, "Ah! Ang, you're my person. I need you on my team." regardless of what your resume says, right. So that's the game that we try to get our clients to play and build that other "R" word, which is relationships, as opposed to resumes. And we'll get into a whole lot more reasons why it's not a good use of your time, it's not a good return on your investment to spend your time toiling over resumes. And part of that is because of what I like to call the job search as being the two sides of the same coin, right? One side is this reactive side, it is I am scrolling for postings incessantly, I am finding something that I think might work, that I will contort and play with AI and try to get the keywords just right, the percentage have my resume match perfectly, or as much as I can. It's a very reactive side, right? The other side of the coin is the proactive side, which is where we talk about building relationships. And we're going to spend a lot more time on this conversation as to why that is a better use of your time and doing the proactive side and coming from an energy of, "what do I want? Do I even want this role? Would I be a fit? Can I add value here? Do I even like these people?"

Angela Barnard 04:46

Yeah, is it even an effective use of my own energy to spend all this time trying to tailor my resume to fit this role that I really don't know much about? I just know that there's this job description that someone else might have wrote that doesn't even really apply to the job. Because so often, job descriptions aren't actually the job that someone is going to be doing or some HR person wrote it that's not familiar, like, we've all been in that situation, or we've been given a role, and you're like, "this was not in my job description", right. So it's not a thing that you can really rely on. But so often through this process, we spend so much of our energy obsessing on getting the resume to match this job description, we don't even know if that's something we want to pursue, we don't know what it's like to work with those people. Again, if that job is what it says it is. So what we're asking you to do is come from this from a proactive side and the side of where you value yourself and your time and your energy so much, that you're going to do some research on that role before you sit there for possibly hours trying to target applying to that. You're going to skip the resume side and try to find the person that you can talk to that may know more about it and come from this curious state, we have seen that that's going to serve you a lot more. In fact, a lot of people that come to us, they often show up from the reactive side initially, and they're like, "I'm just so sick of applying to jobs constantly and spending hours on my resume. It's not working for me." And you're like, "yeah, it's not." And that because you're taking a reactive approach to life really.

Liz McLean 06:27

Yeah. So we have a whole host of reasons why we say to go to that proactive side and focus on the other "R" word, which is building relationships.

Angela Barnard 06:38

Yeah, so we got five reasons why we think that you should focus more on the person, the relationship over the resume. So we're going to break down those five reasons. So starting with number one. One is you get the feels, like when you go to the person first and you reach out to them, you get to know more about them, or the role or the company, you get a feel for what it's like to work with that person or in that organization or that job. And we know that a lot of people leave their job, because they don't like the people that they work with. So again, why waste time on applying or tailoring your resume for a role, if you don't really know if you're gonna like working with people? Like, find out if you even like to work with them to begin with, then focus on the energy. And the other thing that I love about this is that you may be prettier in real life versus on paper, like, that's exactly how I'm looking at this is. It's like, you might like on paper, let's say I'm gonna apply for a role, and maybe on paper, I do not look like a good fit for that role. But I could totally rock it out. I would excel at that role. Maybe I have the perfect personality for it. Well, it's like instead of waiting in line for my turn to be seen, I skip the line, and I make sure I'm seeing or I've heard. Yeah, that's what we're talking about.

Liz McLean 07:58

Spoiler alert, and she would rock the roll. As the other thing I wanted to add to that, yes, you can get all the data and you can get all the facts on the roll, but there's your gut intuition that you need to factor into this as well, which you get when you get to meet someone face to face, right?

Angela Barnard 08:21

Oh, yes. I'm so glad that you brought that up. Because this is a part of us that a lot of us ignore, which is why we got into the situation we're in to begin with, we're like, oh, like, I don't like... this is like, I bet you on the way that intuition was speaking to you, you know, the whole time and you started. So it's like, now is the time for you to listen to that intuition. Give it a chance to have a say in the process. And the way that you get that to happen is you meet with the people and you get the feels and see if this is something that you want to dedicate your time and your energy towards.

Liz McLean 09:00

And you provide that for them too, right? This is a relationship so they can get a feel for who you are and know like, oh, are they going to fit within this organization and within our culture and our style?

Angela Barnard 09:12

Yeah. So number two. Tell us about this one. You get a more accurate description of the role. Tell us, Liz.

Liz McLean 09:23

Yeah, I will tell you because we touched on this a little bit in the beginning. The job description could be...you're relying on it as if it is backed into for the roll. It could be something that has been recycled from HR or some process that no longer matches what the hiring manager needs, right. And so you are spending hours trying to respond to something that isn't actually the case of what the problem is or the role or what the hiring manager needs for a solution. I had a client, Ang, that one time like traveled, got on a plane and got, you know, did a face to face interview– all day interviews, very takes a lot of energy and effort, right? And got there. And it was nothing like the job description or what the HR screen initially was. It's like he could have saved, you know, himself time and energy and the hiring manager. That wasn't a great experience for him either because it's like, "Oh, wait a minute. What? You thought it was this? You thought it was ABC? No, it's actually XYZ." Like, oh, you're not interested in that? Like, I've been on the other side of that, too, as a hiring manager. And like, wait a minute, who are these? This does not match. What is this job description? So it's...go straight to the source, right, of the person that needs you to show up and deliver value.

Angela Barnard 10:55

Oh, that just got me thinking about a belief that I often hear that holds people back is when they see a job description, they often will be like, "Well, I'm just not qualified, Ang." I'm sure you hear this. "I don't have everything that's on here. So I shouldn't even apply." And the thing with this is like we're telling you guys, a lot of times the description is not accurate for what they need. Right? So that's just something to think about is, like, don't let it hold you back. This is not exactly, you know, you don't meet all the qualifications, like very rarely does someone show up and meet all the qualifications that's on a job description, anyways. I have never even been real with you taking a role where I met all the jobs, like everything that's on the job description.

Liz McLean 11:43

Neither. And the other thing I'd say on that is, it robs the conversation of, like, the hiring managers, or sometimes we'll have clients go in, and the hiring manager will learn something about a candidate and be like, "Oh, wait a minute, you can do this, too? We need help with this." And it wasn't even in the job description, right? They discover, like, how you deliver value.

Angela Barnard 12:06

Yeah. So this makes me think about when you do meet with people like really asking them like, "what is the problem right now? What problems are you guys trying to solve? And really communicating how you can help solve that problem?" Because the reality is, if there's a job posting, like there's a need, that means there's a problem that needs to be solved, and you can help be a solution to that problem. And a real quick story with this whole job description thing got me thinking. So back in the day, I used to supervise about 25 social workers. And I remember, I was not in charge of the job descriptions, I did not feel like it was accurate, but I knew what I needed. And I remember my name, my picture, my email, my phone number, all the things were on the organization's website. And I would have job postings, and it just blew my mind that no one would contact me directly. Like I was like, sitting in my office begging for people to be like, "reach out to me, here's my email, stop going through just HR, I'm the one in charge of the program", like, "do this research, it's there for you." And I just really want to get candidates. So I had an idea of what I wanted. And in HR we had, so basically, I'm the job description itself. is that you had to have X years of experience and a master's in social work. The issue that I was running into over and over, as a manager, was that we would hire a master's level clinician. And what would happen is they're not getting paid very much. And it just wasn't sustainable for them. And it wasn't in our budget to pay them more. And there's all these other issues. So I actually didn't even want a master's level clinician, I didn't even need that level of expertise for what I needed that person to do, right. So my ideal like, in my mind, I had this idea of my ideal person. I was like, "you know what would be really awesome? I need a hardcore multitasker. Someone that is super friendly, that can work with a variety of people, like I'm talking about servers, interested in social work, where..." well, that's your girl, like literally...

Liz McLean 14:08

Right. And that's not on the job description. That's no way matching.

Angela Barnard 14:12

Job description was master's level clinician, all this professional stuff, and it even served me as the manager. So I remember what happened was the HR people would go through them, and they literally did it by keyword crap. You know, like, she would bring me a stack of resumes and say, "Here, Ang. Here's the ones that I think that you know, we're going to interview with or let me know what you think." But it was like an afterthought. And I was like,"let me see the other ones that came in." She was like, "Okay, I already went through them." And I was like, "Can I see them?" And she gave them to me, and I remember I went through them and I found the perfect person for me. It was a server who was just starting her career in social work. She was one of the best employees that I had ever hired. But she totally did not meet the description. But that personality, as soon as I met her, my entire team was like, "this is our girl." So this is why I'm telling you guys like, when people like, we know our people, like when you get into our group, you're like, "I love this person. You get to a point where you do not care if they have all the experience, you just love them and you think about, like, how fun it would be to work with them."

Liz McLean 15:21

Right? You start imagining them in team meetings. And that's why this resume is an afterthought. And we'll have clients say, and this is usually where it comes up. They'll say, "Oh, yeah, like they've already decided on you. They're like, Oh, can you just send me a resume, like, I just have to have it on file, like you can go page, this is my resume.

Angela Barnard 15:43

That's number five. So we're gonna, we're...

Liz McLean 15:45

Okay, I'm skipping ahead.

Angela Barnard 15:46

You're gonna get ahead of ourselves, because it all leads to each other. But that's true. So we'll just get to that one right now is that the relationship will trump the resume. And so often, repeatedly, we're working with clients, and they specifically say that like, oh, and then they were just like, "Hey, can you send me your resume?" And actually, the person just said, like, don't worry about updating it, doesn't really matter, we just kind of like a formality. Right? So that happens more often than the other side where they want the resume to be tailored exactly. Because you've already built that relationship, and you've already connected with that human and that human likes you. And that human is the one that's making the decision. So if you think about your energy, even if you look at stats, like I'm a big, like, I love looking at statistics, I love that info. Like I love the science behind stuff. So anyways, if you look at the research, we know that pretty much over 80% of jobs that people get, are jobs because of a relationship, like they knew someone or they built a relationship, it was not from applying, in fact, applying is very low. In fact, a lot of employers don't post jobs on majors job search engines very intentionally, because they don't want to flood of a bunch of people coming in. Because then that takes work on their own to have to filter through all the stuff coming in. They would much prefer to have someone they know like their buddy telling you them who would be a good fit. That's way easier and a better use of everyone's time because I already, like, for example, I already, like, know and trust Liz. So if we're looking to hire someone, let's say I'm in charge of that role, let's pretend, then I'd way rather go with what Liz has to say, rather than, "Oh, I gotta post this thing. And I gotta go through all this stuff." Right? So if you even think about it statistically, like, if so, let's pretend, 80% of jobs are found via relationships that are built or people you know, then we should be spending the majority of our effort and energy on relationships, right?

Liz McLean 17:46

Right. When I was coaching for an outplacement service, Ang, we had a rule that we would tell clients, and I would even take a little bit further than these numbers, but we would say it was the 70/20/10 rule. So yeah, 70% of your time, building relationships, 20% of your time doing prep. And by that, I mean, "hey, what are your stories? How do you interview? What, you know, doing your research, like, that kind of prep, more intentional and mindful prep, right? 10% applying. I would even, maybe even, skew those numbers even more, but just to tell you like when we were like that was kind of a rule of thumb at that company who I've working with, clients that had been laid off. And these are people that are like, "Wait, you know, we had to coach them on...they'd be like, "well, I just... I'm not doing enough. I gotta apply, I gotta apply and apply. And so then I'd have to talk about this reactive side of the job coin and be like, alright, each job posting that you see out there has 300 applicants on average, if it's a company that's desirable, it's 3000. Like Google gets 3000."

Angela Barnard 19:00

Yeah, it's not an effective use of your energy. And we're thinking about through this process is like, I want you to... if you're listening, to honor yourself more, you just add this to an interview on your end, honor your time, your energy, it's not an effective use for you to be spending all this time tailoring everything, I'm not saying that tailoring isn't gonna help you because I've had a lot of clients do well, actually from like being able to tailor and find opportunities, but the majority, it's in alignment with the statistics as far as focusing on relationships. That is key here. So this came to mind is, like, when I teach people how to tailor their resume, because sometimes I do that, because sometimes it does make sense. And again, every person's situation is very different. Sometimes we have people that are working with us that are switching, they want to stay in the same field, but they actually want to switch to a different organization like that organization may honor their time, their values more, better alignment for them, all the things and maybe for them, it makes perfect sense to really spend energy on tailoring because they have all this experience, and they be able to be, maybe, some of the competition, if you were in a pile of 300, they'd be able to stand out maybe. So it depends on the person. But the other thing I was saying is that, even if you are going to give energy to the resume, I want you to focus on the human more. So just a real quick story. So my husband, I was doing some resume work for him. So he was applying to a dentist role because he's a dentist. And so I was messing with his resume. And what I do is I do the research on the person who is going to see that resume, and I tailor the resume to appeal to the human that's going to see it. And I do my best to try to avoid the applicant tracking system. Like if I can get a straight email into that person's email box, I'm going to find that email to their eyes, it's a better use of my energy. So anyways, I knew who exactly was gonna look at that resume. So what I did was I researched the dude, I ended up seeing, from stalking him online on Facebook, which you need to do, don't be afraid to do it because they're doing it to you.

Liz McLean 21:14

They're gonna stalk you.

Angela Barnard 21:15

Yeah, so you can think about the interview on your end. You gotta act, like you know.

Liz McLean 21:20

They get to do all of that too.

Angela Barnard 21:22

Yeah, it's not weird. The information is there, use it. So anyways, I did the research, found out right away this guy's cover photo on Facebook that popped up had horses in it, "Oh this guy is a horse person." So my husband, you would not know this from his traditional resume, that he is also a horse person. In fact, he won a world championship, unless horseback riding raining stuff we were filming earlier with horses, which I'm really not, but like, if you're familiar with that world, he was at the World Championship, right? So anyways, that normally doesn't go on his resume at all, because that was like way back in the day. But the thing was, is I knew this guy was a horse person. So I looked at my husband's resume, and I went back and I added that in there. And as soon as the guy got my husband's resume, when he called him, he was like, right away he was like, "Hey, man. I saw on your resume, like, you know, you ride too, when you did this, and blah, blah", immediately, like my husband offered him the job. I have tons of stories where I've done similar things with my own resume when I thought about the human. So this comes back to this whole concept– relationship over resume.

Liz McLean 22:33

Yeah. I mean, that's a perfect example of people, like, you know, when they say, "Oh, how far back should I go?" And it's like, if there's something relevant, you know, to the person, put it on there, like, yeah. Anyway, we won't get into all that, that comes, as Ang and I said, it comes way later. But getting to know the person as much as you can go straight to the source. And it is... when we first started talking about this, Ang, it's like, our first reaction was like, "Ah", it's like, no one enjoys resumes, right. Not the people writing them, not the people having to screen them necessarily. It's like the least human way. You know what, we just did number...well, we skipped number three, we did number four. I love how we're...

Angela Barnard 23:21

This is really... this is how we do over here, we're still getting the points out, we're going with the flow, what...

Liz McLean 23:29

We're doing it in a soapbox, and these points just naturally come out. So we were just going to sum it up as far as why you go straight to the person first. So you get the feels both sides, right? You get a more accurate description of the role, and description isn't like, not the right word. It's that undersells or, like, you get so much more information than just a bulleted list of responsibilities, right? You get to interview them, and honor your time. And then through all of this, as Ang just pointed out, the relationship really ends up trumping the resume we've talked about– the resumes, the afterthought, it kind of becomes you know, it's so low on the list. It's irrelevant. That's why I said at the beginning of this episode, Ang, it's like, "do I need to rewrite my resume?" I'm like, "maybe put way significantly later." And that's just when somebody needs to check the box after you've built the relationship already.

Angela Barnard 24:32

Not that resumes are bad, but relationships over resumes. So if you enjoyed this podcast episode, please let us know. Reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you.

Liz McLean 24:42

Thanks for listening.

Angela Barnard 24:43

Alright, y'all. Have an awesome day. Bye.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:52

Many of the stories that you've heard on the podcast are from listeners that have decided they want to take action, and taking the first step of having a conversation with our team to try and figure out how we can help. And if you want to implement what you have heard, and you want to completely change your life and your career, then let's figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest, just open your phone right now and open your email app. And I'm going to give you my personal email address, scott@happentoyourcareer.com just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And we can absolutely connect you with my team. I'm not answering my email right now, but I have a team member, Kate, who absolutely will make sure that you get connected with our team and the right person on our team so that we can figure out the very best way that we can help with that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:48

Hey, I hope you loved this episode. Thanks so much for listening. And if this has been helpful, then please share this podcast with your friends, with your family, with your co-workers that badly need it. Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Cindy Gonos 26:06

So that her signature strengths really come into play, right? Because it's not just about what you can do well, it's about what you can do well and enjoy.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:18

All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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