How To Find a Job Without Writing a Resume

Picture of by Andrew Beach

by Andrew Beach

Replacing Blind Application With Strategic Conversation
Understanding A Company Hiring Process
Most Valuable Activities for Job Seekers
What A Resume Is and Is Not

How on earth do people get jobs today without writing a resume?
It may sound far fetched on the surface but it does happen everyday. After coaching close to 1,000 job seekers, I’ve noticed some interesting pathways to finding work that I will attempt to flesh out in a version 1.0 way during this post.

What I noticed early on in my coaching practice is the strength and allure of the application process. I see this not from a coaches perspective or even a company perspective but as a former job seeker myself. The online posting seems to be like a wonderful promise of something great. So why not apply? As your coach I would advise, yes apply, BUT…

That’s a big but (with one ‘T’). Do whatever you can to get your application into the right hands. The standout portion of this process assumes that you know someone on the inside to give you an endorsement or even to just flag you as a potential candidate for the interview portion of the process.

Some questions that I have asked myself and coaching clients:

What Activity Will Produce the Highest Return of Investment in Time?
Are you Focusing on Activity That will Generate an Interview?
What is the Role and Purpose of a Resume?
Do You Understand the Company’s Rules?
Highest ROI
When we look at the spaghetti chart, it’s clear that there are dozens of activities as a job seeker that you can perform. So tell me what is the highest and best use of your time? Here’s a prioritized list that I have provided many of my coaching clients:

Interviews for a “real” requisition. By real we mean the job description is defined, there is funding and a clear start day timeline
FIRST with hiring managers (aka Future Boss)
SECOND with recruiting team as segue to Future Boss interviews
Systematic Networking
FIRST with a potential future boss
SECOND with anyone you confidently feel can introduce you to your future boss
THIRD with inner-circle family, friends, and former colleagues.
FOURTH with anyone you meet until you have satisfied your quota
Company and Hiring Manager Research to find people to meet
Bulldog Applications to get positively noticed and considered as a short stack option (aka Whatever it Takes)
FIRST to target companies without any identified requisition (direct sales)
SECOND to target companies where your skills are a dead-on match
THIRD to blind application to satisfy your requirements for employment insurance benefits.
Education and Training to improve your skills as relates to your job search, not as a creative avoidance behavior (like professional networking, interviewing preparation, etc)
Everything Else

Focused Activity
The list of Highest ROI activities is not meant to be a complete list and your mileage may vary depending on market dynamics.  The key mesurement to consider is

Will this activity generate an Interview?
The only activities in the chart that can generate a potential interview that you as a job seeker control is networking or direct application without a known opportunity.  I say it that way because a known opportunity will, almost 99% of the time, first land you in the purview of human resources.  It’s not good or bad, but the process at the point that HR Business Partner receives the go ahead to advertise and locate qualified candidates, your opportunity to influence the process goes down exponentially.

Each and every day, ask yourself: What can I do, right now, to meet more people and discuss opportunities?  And as you work the Highest ROI list and see that you don’t have any interviews today, the next action is networking.  The idea: until you have completed the Highest ROI activity, you do not move to the next, lowest value activity.

Anytime a higher value activity comes, then you stop that activity and work the higher value one to completion. For example, if you are filling out an employment application and you see that you got a direct message (phone, email, LinkedIn) from a contact who wants to meet you at a target company, you stop the application and schedule time for the contact.

What is a Resume?
This all sounds great, but what about the idea of getting a job without a resume?  Before I can answer that question we first have to discuss that the purpose of the resume is and how it will be used.

Definitions can vary.  The outcome of your resume as a job seeker it to get an interview.  The outcome for the recruiter is to filter you against a predetermined set of skills desired.  Which stack is bigger?  The applicant stack or the phone screen stack? How about the phone screen stack versus the face-to-face interview stack?

Common sense says that as a filtering mechanism the resume can only serve to screen you into, or out of an opportunity.  The good news: resume and application are just one method to get to the short stacks. Can it really be done?  Getting a job without a resume?  I can tell you it happens far more that people think.  Don’t get me wrong, the resume is a tool and can be introduced at the proper time for its designated purpose.

As a coach, I encourage networking with an empty hands approach.  Your resume stays at home. Conversations that are them-focused. Asking questions, taking notes, and following up with a resume–when appropriate–in case the people you meet are hiring managers.  At this point, you know the hiring manager hot buttons and are not relegated to guessing from a job posting which of the 43 requirements of the job really matter to the hiring team. Introducing a customized resume that meets or exceeds the hiring manager checklist are solid gold.

The Rules of the Game
Every game comes with rules. Ask any referee if you take 3 steps without dribbling then that’s traveling.  In job search, the rules are not cut and dry like basketball.  Companies have policy and process. Job seekers have applications and resumes. What are we supposed to do?

Here’s the game: try it.  Consider that there are not any rules for job search.  Try to get to an interview, or at least through a large part of the hiring process without producing a resume.  You will be surprised how many people want to know you before they hire you.  This is why many times hiring managers prefer internal candidates, friends, and referrals from trusted advisers and employees. No one party is 100% satisfied with the hiring process.  Let’s make it easier for hiring managers by being the known commodity before the application process commences.


  1. a summing up; summary.
  2. a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.


  1. a tool to evaluate applicants to corporate needs for talent
  2. a filtering mechanism to narrow the applicant pool

job seeker: un

  1. a full and accurate representation of identity.
  2. an unquestionable description of perfect fit for a publicly advertised job

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Picture of Andrew Beach

Andrew Beach

Andrew Beach is a Branding Dynamo. He helps transform confusion into clarity by translating your charismatic story assets, understanding your personal values, and scripting a top notch identity statement in support of effective networking. Coaching clients say that they have doubled message retention and shortened time on landing, often garnering multiple job offers.

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