Last night, I decided to update my resume, which I hadn’t touched in over a year and a half. The idealistic side of me hates the concept of a resume: after all, this one piece of paper is supposed to define who you are, how well you work, and whether or not you’d be interesting if stuck in an elevator. Or, in summary, if we [the hiring firm] should even give you [the person with the pink, perfumed resume] a chance.
Click on this image to get a (potentially helpful) resume template
So in principle, I hate resumes, just because of my romantic belief that a person’s job fate should not be defined by a single piece of paper. At the same time, I hate all the other alternatives to getting a job as well. At Harvard, we used to have handfuls of networking events once recruiting season started in the fall. These events were all invariably the same. There were always drinks, a gaggle of suited representatives, piles of promotional materials, and the usual giveaways, like Nalgene bottles and mouse pads. The best networking events also had food: typically an assortment of cheeses, fruits, and before the recession, finger food.
There were three distinct groups of people at networking events. The first group was the Hustlers. The Hustlers got business cards, kissed up to the senior representatives, and pounded out thank-you notes by the time they got back to their dorm room. The second group was the Legacies. The Legacies already had their job secured, whether it was because they’d interned at the firm last summer, or because their daddy was very powerful. The Legacies would spend most of their time drinking free wine in the corner and talking about how many goldfish they’d ice-luged the night before. The last group was the Eaters, of which I was mostly a part. The Eaters were only at the event for the food. Eaters had been to so many networking events that we had become connoisseurs of cheese. We would gather near the kitchen door, position ourselves for the crab cakes to come out, and only talk to reps if we could score an invitation to a company-sponsored dinner.
Overall, networking at Harvard was what I imagine speed dating is like: you talk to a lot of people who try to make their job sound more exciting than it actually is, and you eat a lot of cheese. The ultimate goal of a networking event? To impress someone so much that you get a second date: an interview.
So, this is my advice to college graduates hoping to land a job. In order to get your foot in the door, all you need to do is: a) Deliver a kick-ass resume, with perfect formatting and lots of action verbs, or b) Act like a Hustler at a networking event. Again, while my idealistic self would like to add in c) Just be yourself, I think that probably works about as well in recruitment circles as it does in speed dating. That is, it doesn’t.
Happy job/woman/man huntin’!