Submit a Proposal Not a Resume

Using a proposal rather than a resume directly demonstrates your value.

 Knowing how companies decide which candidates to interview and whom to hire can help job seekers increase their odds of getting interviewed and ultimately hired. The following is a disruptor idea and not guaranteed to work, but if you’re not having any luck being interviewed for good jobs you might want to try it out.

There are a number of ways candidates can reverse engineer this process to both get the interview and perform better during it. Here’s how:

  1. Do not apply directly. Unless you’re a perfect fit on skills, experience and industry do not hit the apply button or send your resume to HR. This will be a pure waste of time.
  2. Don’t submit your resume, provide a solution. Instead of applying directly, submit a write-up of your most significant business accomplishment that most closely aligns with the job. The write-up needs to answer the two questions above. Part of it will be to describe something you’ve accomplished and the other part how you’d go about implementing a solution. You can format this any way you want or you can use Pat Riley’s book, The One-Page Proposal, as a guide or go to his website and use his automated format designed for job seekers. (I met Pat Riley last week and was blown away by his approach.)
  3. Figure out the real job requirements before preparing your summary. To prepare your write-up you’ll need to figure out what the job is all about first. The posted job description will provide some clues. In addition, do some company research looking at all of their open jobs to spot any trends, check out recent press releases, review LinkedIn to see if anyone has been promoted and read the analysts reports if the company is public. This will help identify the likely challenges involved in the open job. Then tailor your summary accordingly.
  4. Use the job posting as a lead. In an earlier post I suggested using the back door to find someone who knows the hiring manager in order to get a referral. In the same post I suggested sending in a sample of your work to get noticed. The one-page summary is probably better. As you do your research on LinkedIn, look for someone who runs the department you’re interested in and send your write-up to this person or directly to the hiring manager if you can find the person’s name. You’ll likely be rerouted back to HR but if your write-up is credible, it will be to arrange an interview.

While the above steps will increase your odds of getting the interview, you still need to perform well once you get the chance. My suggested approach is described in this post on how to improve your interviewing performance. This video series describes the complete job-hunting and preparation process.

Recognize that this process will not work if you don’t have any accomplishments related to real job needs. If you do, you’ll likely get better results than applying directly to a job posting with your resume. Even better: you already know the answer to the two questions every manager should ask.


Adapted from and original post by Lou Adler, the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring.