Resumes & Cover Letters

Why the perfect resume won’t get you the job

Written by Eric Titner

We’ve all been there—the seemingly endless hours of toil, the struggle and intense focus, the attention to every detail both large and small, the tweaks and rewrites based on multiple rounds of feedback and criticism from everyone who was ever important to us in our lives…until as close of a version of perfection is achieved.

What are we talking about?

Yes, we can only be talking about one thing—it’s your resume, and we all know how valuable a document it can be. In short, your resume is your initial handshake, your smile, your first impression to potential employers and hiring managers—and you really want to make it count.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, the power of first impressions is undeniable and “first impressions matter, for good and bad” (Google “the halo effect” if you’re curious and want to learn more about the lasting power of first impressions).

We also know that the competition to get a new job is intense, and some fields are even tougher than others, so the time and effort spent on perfecting your resume is time well spent!

However…if you think your resume will be your “golden ticket” to your next job, think again. While it’s true that an impressive resume can help open doors and put you in the running for new job opportunities, even an absolutely perfect resume won’t automatically guarantee you the job.

You resume may open doors, but it likely won’t get you the keys, if you get our meaning—it’s a document designed to grab the attention of hiring managers and potential employers, but it’s up to you to seal the deal. Remember, they’re looking to hire a person, not a piece of paper, so more than just your resume will be under review during the hiring process. While it’s true that your resume can—and hopefully will—get them interested, they’ll want to know if you actually live up to the initial impression they got from reading about you.

Furthermore, the competition you’ll face is just as hungry for the jobs you’re going after and you better believe that many of their resumes will also be perfect too. So, in a universe of impeccable resumes, the thing that separates the winners from everyone else in the job-hunting game is what they bring to the table after their resumes makes the initial first impression.

So, if you’re lucky enough to get to move forward in the hiring process, perhaps to a phone call or video conference call, or even a face-to-face interview, you’re going to have to continue the job that your resume started. This means looking your best, demonstrating impeccable communication skills, instilling confidence that your skill set, experience, and innate abilities match well with the job, and giving the impression that you’d be a great person to work alongside everyday and a valuable addition to their team. You’ll also need to make a convincing case why you’re a better choice than all the other people with perfect resumes that you’ll be competing against.

Here’s the bottom line: it’s definitely worth your time and effort to craft a stellar resume, but if you’re really serious about landing that job opportunity you have in your sights you need to pay just as much attention to making sure that you make as good of an impression as your resume does. Don’t forget—your resume will get your foot in the door, but it’s up to the rest of you to keep it there!

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About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.

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