Book Review: Don’t Send a Resume
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Don’t Send a Resume: And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job, by Jeffrey J. Fox, 192 pages, May 2001, Hyperion; ISBN: 0786865962, $16.95.
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen
Editor’s note: See our Q&A with author Jeffrey Fox.
The title of this nice little gem of a book is slightly misleading. Fox doesn’t say don’t ever send a resume; he just has an unorthodox suggestion for the timing of sending a resume. He says to send it after the job interview, so it is targeted to the prospective employer’s needs.
Don’t Send a Resume, which can be read in about an hour, isn’t a comprehensive guide to job-hunting, and it doesn’t pretend to be. But Fox provides enough nuggets of advice you won’t hear anywhere else to make this book a valuable supplement to one’s career library. (At $16.95, it’s pretty pricey for an hour’s read, however.)
Fox’s approach is also not for everyone. His orientation is sales and marketing, and he asserts that job-hunting should be an exercise in selling. Cover letters should be sales letters; interviews are sales calls; and resumes should be crafted as sales literature. No argument here, but not everyone is comfortable with the hardcore kind of selling Fox recommends. We hear all the time from jobseekers who desperately want to get out of sales because they don’t have the right personality for it.
We would also submit that jobseekers need to be at fairly high level of corporate achievement to derive maximum benefit from Don’t Send a Resume. Fox encourages conducting exhaustive research into the problems of companies you are targeting in your job search and then telling the employers that you can solve those problems. Great idea, but it’s much easier for those in the upper echelons of management or sales experience to assert that they can solve big company problems than it is for administrative assistants and others toward the bottom of the corporate food chain. See how Fox responds to this issue in our Q&A with him.
Still, everyone can get something out of this book, even if it’s just a refreshing view of what employers do and do not care about. Among the items Fox says employers don’t care about are job objectives (unless they coincide exactly with the employer’s objective) and the jobseeker’s likes and interests.
The basic building block of Fox’s sales approach to job-hunting is conducting copious research into target companies. He’s absolutely right, and he has some great research suggestions that you probably won’t hear anywhere else (Buy the company’s product; talk to the company’s customers and vendors.) It has been our experience that most people are not willing to put in the time, work, and research it takes to mount a truly successful job campaign; maybe Fox’s book will inspire more jobseekers to do so. He even proposes an intensive schedule of “The Job Seeker’s Workday,” which would certainly prove fruitful for anyone willing to devote full-time to job-hunting — but what about those who are job-hunting while already employed? See what Fox has to say about spending sufficient time job-hunting in our Q&A with him.
The chapters of Don’t Send a Resume that we like best deal with Fox’s versions of resumes and cover letters. For a cover letter, Fox suggests the “Impact Letter,” a sales letter that tells how you can solve the company’s problems. The “Resu-Letter” is a cross between a resume and a cover letter. And a “Boomerang Letter” is a response to a want ad that parrots back keywords and buzzwords from the ad, thus evoking a positive response from the employer. (Get a more detailed description of the Boomerang Letter in our Q&A with Fox.) We also like and agree with most of Fox’s idea’s on conventional resume writing.
Each short chapter contains bits and bytes of unusual yet sensible ideas for job-hunting success. Perhaps most enjoyable is Fox’s enviably spare writing style. He writes concisely and belabors nothing.
Jobseekers can find much to value and benefit from in Fox’s book. But, given that $16.95 is rather steep for an hour’s read, they might want to get it from the library or wait for the paperback edition.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.