In employment game, résumés mean little

It is that time of year once again. The end of the semester is upon us and that means that it is time to go looking for a part-time job for the summer, or a full-time job for those who are graduating in four weeks.

Even in a supposedly rebounding economy, it is still difficult for college-aged students to find a job. That is why more and more people are stressing the importance of an impressive résumé.

An impressive résumé is said to be the gateway to finding one’s dream job, or even just a traditional job for that matter. But should society really lean on a single print-out to determine a person’s future?

The four main categories that a résumé tells a future employer are mission statement, key skills, job experience and education. In other words, a résumé answers the following questions: What the hell do you want out of us? Do you know how to do anything important? Have you worked anywhere that matters? And are you smart or are you dumb? That is what most employers want to know from reading student or recent graduate’s résumé.

But too many people are making it a top, all-consuming priority to create the flashiest, sexiest résumé in the world. It’s a one-page, 8.5×11 piece of paper with a toned down version of your life written in Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, Wingdings or whatever clever font your heart desires. The point is that I will be the first to admit that my résumé is not the strongest. But it hasn’t stopped me from getting every job I’ve ever applied for (well, almost all of them, but my résumé had nothing to do with that one).

Résumés can often mislead. If someone applies for a job and the employer sees that he or she has a 3.96 GPA, then the employer automatically thinks the candidate is smart and therefore a good potential hire. Well, I’m here to tell you that a person’s high school or college GPA is as meaningful as a GPS that hasn’t been updated in 50 years. The only thing a high GPA reveals is that the person knows how to study material and how to ace tests; it doesn’t show that he or she knows how to survive in everyday life. Sure, they may be able to get an A in super-duper advanced biochemistry, but I lose respect for that accomplishment when it takes them six hours to figure out how to screw in a light bulb.

An employer should never hire a person without first giving him or her a chance to prove himself or herself at the job at hand.

Baseball teams don’t draft players without first watching them perform on the diamond. They aren’t going to draft a kid with a 3.9 college GPA who aced Economics of Baseball but who’s never played a game in his life. They would rather hire a kid with a 2.3 GPA who is an All-American player. The smart kid’s more impressive résumé got him nowhere.

The same theory holds true for internships. An employer should not use internships as a tie-breaker when deciding between two candidates if they have not first seen both of them in action. Just because someone has a prestigious internship doesn’t mean they can actually do a good job. It doesn’t prove they can do something more than make coffee. It just means they bought into the whole notion that the more internships you have then the better off you are going to be.

College- and high school-aged students tend to be blind to what it takes to actually get a desirable job. Being qualified for the position is only half the battle. The other half: knowing someone on the inside. In today’s society it is essential helps to know someone who works in the business because known contacts made top priority in a search for potential employees.

I’m a good example of this fact. Like I said, my résumé is weak. I have yet to do an internship but I’m being offered an internship position at New England Sports Network, the sports station for everything Boston. My résumé is not worthy of being considered for such an internship. Here is how I got this opportunity. I was waiting in line at a restaurant with my parents when they ran into a couple that they had worked with in the past. Their daughter had worked as a meteorologist at NESN and knew a few people that could pull some strings for me. Presto. That was it; no fancy résumé required. That is how I got my internship. It wasn’t a gaudy résumé; it was running into someone at a local bar and grill who had worked there before. So networking is key, and résumés are what you do when you don’t have connections. Don’t tell me your résumé is essential to getting a job, because it isn’t.