Meet Don Garrett, the CEO of Resume Not Required. Garrett’s mission in life is to fundamentally change the way people find and select their jobs. Garrett claims that job seekers no longer need a good resume to stand out. In fact, he claims a resume can actually decrease your chances of being selected. WashingtonExec recently interviewed Garrett about the secrets of finding a job.
WashingtonExec: People still believe a good resume, cover letter and strong handshake is the way to go. What do you say to them?
Don Garrett: If you are looking for more of the same, then sure, a resume can get you that (though not without a lot of frustration: your resume, on average, is unlikely to generate more than 2 interviews for every 100 copies you send out).
A resume, by definition, is simply a reflection of the past. If you’re using a resume to market yourself, companies will only have the ability to hire you to do more of what you’ve already done. But there’s a more important question that needs to be asked: why would you allow someone else – who hasn’t met you or followed you around for your career – to define what you are capable of? Society encourages people to choose their life partner, their home, their new car, etc but for some reason when it comes to jobs you are expected to just take whatever comes along. Sadly, the majority of the people I’ve met over the years fell into a job out of college which ended up defining their career. Without the ability to choose, it should come as no surprise that most people don’t like their jobs.
WashingtonExec: You say that companies fail because they don’t hire the right people. However, every time a business makes a new hire they are essentially “rolling the dice” on that person. How can companies find better employees?
Don Garrett: As a business owner myself – and speaking on behalf of the thousands of others I’ve met over the years – I know that the fear of hiring the wrong people is well justified: indeed, a single disengaged employee can potentially sabotage an entire organization.
To help avoid these hiring mistakes, companies need to stop elevating easily quantifiable benchmarks in their hiring practices: screening candidates based on a certain number of years of industry-specific experience or a particular academic profile will not provide any insight into the quality of a person’s experience, whether they are aligned with a company’s mission or how they will help generate value. For example, why would having 15 years of experience make a person better qualified than someone with less? What matters in most cases is simply that a person has done something successfully in the past.
Companies should be less focused on these benchmarks and be more concerned about why a potential employee wants to get involved in their business. An encouraging 75% of people report that they want to be engaged in their work; if they are aligned with the mission or cause that the company represents – and are working in a role that maximizes their skills and abilities – they will have strong motivation to ensure the future success of the entire enterprise.
WashingtonExec: Do you advise job hunters to not send résumé’s anymore? What is the alternative?
Don Garrett:I advise them to stop using resumes to sell themselves — resumes have proven to be a tremendously ineffective way to convey value and companies should stop accepting them as a meaningful determination of who should get in the door for an interview. This does not mean that people should hide their background. But rather than holding up their ‘daytime hour brochure’ and screaming “hey, is there any part of me you want or need?” people should be presenting what’s relevant from their career after they have determined the needs or challenges at a particular company.
Resumes are nothing more than personal brochures that people use to market themselves to companies. And herein lays the problem: job seekers do not need to be marketed, i.e. create broad-based brand awareness for themselves. They only need one company to buy them!
The alternative – let’s call it the Sniper approach – is for job hunters to understand exactly who they are and what they want to do before jumping into the jobs market. Of the thousands of people I’ve met with over the years, I’ve yet to meet anyone so unique that there’s not another person out there who wants something similar. The problem is they haven’t found each other yet (Resume Not Required is working on a solution to this problem of connectivity). With literally millions of companies and tens of millions of jobs in this country, it seems logical that people ought to be able to choose, rather than allowing someone who has not followed them around for a single day – let alone their entire career – to decide this for them.
WashingtonExec: Once you land the “dream job” how can you make sure you will retain the position without being cut in this tough economy?
Don Garrett: If you’ve found your “dream job”, it would include all of the four ingredients that Resume Not Required uses as a metric with its clients: the right location, the right industry, the right role and the opportunity to reach your own personal definition of success. If all of these factors are in play, you will love what you do and that is going to have a significant impact on your efforts and productivity. It is highly unlikely that you would ever be cut in such a situation, at least not through any fault of your own.
WashingtonExec: What’s the best advice you can give to job hunters who are discouraged with the current job market?
Don Garrett: The “discouraging” job market, and recessed economy, is a direct result of having the wrong people in the wrong positions making the wrong decisions – most famously on Wall Street and in Washington but ultimately at every struggling company across America. I would suggest that businesses have even greater need for good people and solutions than ever before.
Despite all the negative headlines, men and women with strong potential and proven accomplishments are always in demand. I suggest that these frustrated job seekers survey 10 business owners and ask them what their biggest challenge is. After hearing nine out of ten respond with “finding the right people” (as previous CEO interviews and surveys have concluded), perhaps they will start to understand that it is the job search and hiring process that is broken. The three Nobel Prize winning economists last year had found the same thing in their research: the biggest problem in the labor market is not a lack of jobs, it is the failure of the current system to effectively match the right people to the right jobs. Understanding this fundamental disconnect is the first step to getting America back to work.
WashingtonExec: How do you think people will change the way they apply for jobs or how do you think the business sector will change its selection process?
Don Garrett: This change – moving away from resumes – is absolutely critical for our economy. Think about all the recent advancements in our society, ranging from healthcare and transportation to telecommunications and information technology. Yet when it comes to hiring, we’re still relying on a custom – soliciting and sending out resumes – that dates back to the end of the Second World War.
Gallup estimates our economy is losing hundreds of billions in lost productivity each year due to unengaged workers. Yet despite all the new tools in the jobs market – e.g. online job boards and networking sites – we still are not effectively matching people and jobs. There is no fix for our weak economy that doesn’t involve better utilization of people’s skills and creativity. In order to restore America’s economic might, rebuild our middle-class and reclaim the American Dream for the next generation, we must leverage the untapped power of engaged human capital. That’s my mission.