I Hate Resumes. Why Personal Connections Matter in Hiring

Please consider voting for my SXSW 2016 Panel with Carlos Gil, Resumes Suck! 7 Ways to Land a Job with Social Media. Click here to vote. 

As a entrepreneur and business owner, I’ve found that relationships are the key to my business. A referral email, quick phone call or an in person meet is the best way to establish a business connection that leads new project, gig or job opportunity. A resume or even a proposal doesn’t always provide enough information. It’s simply a foundation that can help continue, or build on, the business relationship or conversation — not start one. I view the job search the very same way.

A month or so ago, I announced I was hiring for a new blog editor and instead of asking for an application I asked for an email, a LinkedIn profile and a short video explaining why you are a good fit for the role. I didn’t do any job posting, advertising or promotion. I simply clicked publish on a blog post and shared in two Facebook groups. The first one was Chris Brogan’s The Secret Team (which I recommend that you join) and Social Media Jobs. In under 48 hours I had over 175 emails expressing interest in this blog editor role.

This need for personal relationships and connection is the reason I’m in San Francisco this week for work. Most days I work from home in a small home office with my face in front of multiple computer screens, a Skype headset strapped to my ears. Most of the time it’s relatively quiet in my office. Maybe there’s some music playing. I certainly have my share of business calls and phone conversations but most often the noise that fills my office is the sound of key-tapping.

Job Search Tip: Conversation, Cocktails and Coffee

But this week there are lots of meetings filled with the three C’s: conversations, cocktails and coffee. There are new business schemes and dreams being hatched and the developing of relationships and friendships that lead to new business opportunities. This is the flaw in the hiring process, or business relationship process, and why resumes are the black hole of all humanity. It’s the reason I strongly believe that the hiring process cannot be fully automated. Not every business can be like IBM and eliminate the in person interview. Unfortunately, applicant, you are just number 165 of the 175 emails I received for my blog editor opening. Yes, saying that makes me sound like a douche, but it’s true.  I’m a small business trying to bleed a turnip dry to get as many hours out of the day as I can. Maybe you are a startup founder, freelancer writer or job seeker. Technology helps make us more productive and certainly allows me to engage using this blog, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn. But automated tech can’t replicate a personal relationship or connection. This is the fundamental flaw with resumes.

And while I did take the time to look at those 175 emails each individually, I only talked to five individuals and interviewed them over the phone within the course of less than two weeks. Three of the five were people I already knew. Those conversations were easy. The other two came from personal connections and relationships I had. Their friends simply sent an email suggesting I connect with their friend or colleague. One was a client and the other was someone I knew from Twitter who took the time to send me a recommendation email which led to an interview. Guess which one I ultimately offered the job to?  It was the Twitter connection referral which led me to my new and pretty awesome blog editor, Megan Purdy.

Social Media as a Foundation in Life as Well as Business

Being on social media and building personal as well as in real life connections are the foundation of my business. Whether in person or online, they’re the difference maker in my business. They have also burned me in the past. I make a wrong judgement or leap of faith from time to time. The human element in business is a risk. No matter how failed those bets I made on a friend or business partner were, I won’t let them jade me. Because the human connection is the ultimate differentiator in life and all things.

These connections become friends as well as clients. Online communities like blogs and social networks help keep us connected. They strengthen those connections and help build new ones. My mentors, my friendships and most of my business relationships had a starting point, or a strengthening point, online.

Whether you are self-employed, a freelancer or a corporate pro, those personal connections are the central point of contact in this universe which leads me back to the importance of a relationship as a foundation because it can be the difference maker in a professional opportunity. Resumes suck. Humans win. This is the key to any effective business interaction. It’s the human element that moves us. It propels us and makes this life worth living and a job or gig worth experiencing.

Please consider voting for my SXSW 2016 Panel with Carlos Gil, Resumes Suck! 7 Ways to Land a Job with Social Media. Click here to vote. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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