Two Hidden Problems with Your Resume

17 May

Article Title: Two Hidden Problems With Your Resume
Author Byline: Kevin Donlin
Author Website:

Here’s a question I get in one form or another almost every week: “I’ve sent out 50 resumes and not had any job interviews. What’s wrong with my resume?”

Answer: There may indeed be a problem with your resume, and I’ve been writing about effective resumes for more than 10 years, so I invite you to Google that subject to learn what I think.

But wait.

If you’re sending resumes to employers and not getting callbacks, there may be two other problems you’re overlooking: sending resumes to the wrong person, and sending them the wrong way.

Let’s tackle each of these “hidden” problems, which can derail your job search as quickly as a defective resume can …

Problem 1: Are you sending your resumes to the wrong people?

If so, the best resume in the world won’t help you.

In most cases, the wrong person to send a resume to is anyone in human resources. Because HR people — God bless ’em — specialize in saying no.

Example: They reject your resume because it matches only 8 of 10 job requirements. Or the 24-year-old junior HR staffer reading your resume fails to understand your value because they have never seen anyone do what you do.

Solution: Send your resume to people who can say yes.

By yes, I mean the authority to create a job for you, or tell HR to schedule an interview with you. These “yes people” — also known as hiring managers — are of two types.

In a larger company, the hiring manager to send a resume to is at least one level above the person you would work for. Reason? If you apply directly to your potential boss, that person may see you as a threat to their job and toss your resume. To avoid this, contact your potential boss’ boss, or go two levels higher. In most cases, this means you will apply to a division VP.

The second type of hiring manager to target is found in smaller companies, with no HR department and fewer than 50 people. In most cases, it’s the president or owner.

No matter whom you contact, do what it takes to find the correct spelling of his/her name, his/her title, and his/her mailing address. Search online at Google, Linkedin, or Or pick up the phone and call the receptionist, or call someone you know at one of that employer’s clients, vendors, or competitors.

Problem 2: Are you sending your resumes the wrong way?

If you’ve been sending resumes by email, the answer is a big, fat YES. Email is absolutely the wrong way to send anything important to anyone, ever.

Solution: Print your resume on paper and mail it in an envelope, with a stamp.

Better solution: Print your resume and hand-deliver it during a meeting you arrange with the hiring manager to discuss his/her problems and the solutions you can offer.


As a child, I ate copious amounts of library paste. And among the many strange side effects is this: I can read minds.

So I know you still have questions. Actually, you have two questions …

Question #1: The company I want to work for isn’t hiring people with my qualifications or has a hiring freeze. I’m stuck, right?


Every day, employees quit, die, get fired, or retire. In my experience, up to 25% of workers leave a typical company annually. In a firm with 100 workers, that’s 25 people departing every year — one job opening every two weeks.

Which means there will always be a need for self-directed, problem-solving employees at any company, in any city, in any economy.

That’s where you come in.

By proactively contacting and putting yourself “top of mind” with hiring managers today, you can set yourself up for a job interview tomorrow, when they find themselves unexpectedly in need of employees.

Better yet, you can get a job created for you by far-sighted hiring managers who want to snap you up before their competition does.

Question #2: The job posting says to apply online or has an HR contact to send the resume to. I’m stuck, right?


Sure, you should follow requirements on any job posting. But nowhere is it written that you can’t exceed requirements. Think extra credit here.

You should still apply directly to a hiring manager — not HR — with a printed resume and cover letter, mailed in an envelope, with a stamp.

In your cover letter, include words to this effect: I’ve applied online as directed, but with spam filters and other technical snafus that might pop up, I wanted to make absolutely sure you saw my qualifications on paper, Ms./Mr. Hiring Manager.

Now, go out and make your own luck!

Kevin Donlin is co-author of Guerrilla Resumes. Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CBS Radio and others.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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