How can you get a job without a resume?
I was having a conversation this week with someone who’s a fantastic leader in her field. She’s looking for work right now. Halfway through our chat, we had a brief chuckle about finding jobs.
I was telling her about Roostervane, about helping students find jobs. And I said, “Finding a job has changed. It’s not like we’re sending out resumes anymore.”
She laughed, “No way. I never send out resumes.”
That moment solidified something I’d been thinking about since I started Roostervane. It was something I discovered early in my career, especially since I had exposure to a lot of industry leaders while I worked at a think tank.
I realized that many of the people with the best careers NEVER send out a resume. The first time I was hired, it was a personal contact I made (a cold email) first, and a resume second. In the past year, I’ve been offered jobs via LinkedIn, email, and even text message, without ever applying.
And when leaders I know are looking for a new job or their next opportunity, they also don’t usually send out resumes. They activate their network. They let people know they’re looking. They ask around.
In short, people are getting great job offers COMING TO THEM, and are building great careers without resumes.
And you can do it too. You don’t have to be a senior executive. You just need to have these three things.
How to get a job without a resume…
1. Build a Stellar Brand
Craft your online presence and get visible on a regular basis.
2. An Ever-growing Network
Meet people on a regular basis for conversations and information-exchange.
3. Have a Clear Value Proposition
Know what it is you do, the problem you fix for employers, and make sure people know it!
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1. A stellar brand
People should get a feeling from you. That’s what a brand is after all. It’s the way people feel about you.
And in the world of work, a personal brand means that people MUST feel that you’re a professional who’s got stuff to offer, and they should also feel that you’re someone they’d like to work with.
And there’s one place that matters more than any other for cultivating your brand.
You don’t have to be a LinkedIn influencer, and you don’t have to have a million followers. But your LinkedIn should be clean with a great picture and smooth copy. When you talk to people, they should see you as intelligent, presentable. Your headline should say clearly what you do and the value you bring (more on this below).
Having a brand on LinkedIn means that you need to get visible. Nobody will find you if you’re not. And a great way to do this is to share posts weekly, things you’re thinking about, stories, workplace observations, job tips, articles you like, anything that’s going to help you show up in people’s timelines.
Now I can hear some of you saying, “Chris, that’s a lot of hard work.”
Guess what. So is sending out thousands of resumes and getting no response. If you want employers to come to you, you’ve got to be seen.
2. An ever-growing network
Everyone needs to network. By “networking,” I mean building relationships with people in the world of work, who will benefit your career.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about networking, and I still get push-back. So let me be clear.
Unless you have a ridiculously in-demand skill set, there’s no way jobs will come to you without networking. All the personal branding in the world is unlikely to crack that code. (Really, personal branding is what gets you more networking conversations.)
So, if you’re not willing to network, go back to throwing resumes on a pile.
The good news? Networking doesn’t suck. In my experience, it’s just a conversation. It’s not scary, it can be casual, but it should be intentional.
Let that sink in.
If you’re not networking, your career is suffering.
I did this video on building your network a while back.
More Reading on Networking
3. A clear value proposition
When companies build products or services, they think through the value proposition. The value proposition is simply, why you or your product? Why is it better than the competition?
A personal value proposition is the same. It’s the proposition that tells people why you’re the best one for the job.
This could go in a resume, but since we’re not talking about resumes here, let’s talk about your LinkedIn Headline and About section—writing these two things with a value proposition is one of the best ways to get noticed on LinkedIn. (If you want to get a job without a resume, you’ll need LinkedIn.)
You need to write a value proposition that connects to the real world. So, if I were an English major (which I was in my undergrad), maybe I’d write something like this:
Sample LinkedIn Summary for an English Grad (with clear value proposition)
Headline Title: Content Creator | Award-Winning Writer | Storyteller
I was one of those nerds who loved Shakespeare in high school (don’t judge me!). I realized the power of the written word to bring you to another world or to make you cry about the tragic death of someone who never existed. And that’s why I became obsessed with writing AMAZING content, using the power of words to make people feel things. I’ll help your company tell your story in a way that connects to your customers and increases conversion.
I’ve written 3 guest columns in the local paper AND I’ve been published in 1975 Magazine and Lorbes. My blog on great storytelling gets thousands of hits a month (only a few of which are my mom), and my SEO reach increases 20% monthly. I’m HubSpot certified in Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, and SEO, and totally comfortable with WordPress, SEMRush, Google Analytics, and Adobe Photoshop.
I’ve taken the liberty of adding a few publications, but if you’re an English grad you can literally pitch blogs, websites, and magazines this week and get something published and on your record. I’ve also added a few certifications, like HubSpot Courses, which are available online and market-recognized.
All of these are thing you can do and/or learn quickly, and you’ll have a really clear value proposition.
This is an English grad who will get a job without a resume.
And once you create a value proposition like this, use it to tell your story! When you network, share this WHY and connect it to the work you want to do. (ie. I’m looking for a place that I can help a company share their stories in a way that people actually want to hear.)
That’s it. These are the three main things most people don’t do, or else don’t do well. If you can do these things and do them consistently, jobs and opportunities will come to you!
So stop sending out resumes, especially if you have a bit of time before you need your next job. Or, keep sending them out, but also do these things. And watch your job search transform.