Are you like many job seekers and career changers who – with hindsight – wishes they’d paid more attention to their professional network? If this resonates, a networking resume or CV may just be what you need to communicate more confidently and reach your career goals more quickly.
What is A Networking Resume or CV (and When Might I Need One)?
You can think of your networking resume or CV as a snapshot. Consider it a showcase document customized for a particular purpose.
If you’ve been following this series on different career communication tools you’re already familiar with how to create and use a bio. Your networking resume or CV is a bit different. While your bio enhances your credibility by telling the story of past achievements, your networking resume or CV includes a focus on the future.
Painting a picture of where you want to go, as well as where you’ve been in your work-life is particularly important for career changers. Even as you clarify your next steps, you need to communicate your potential to be successful in the future. This can be a challenge in the context of many unknowns. But a networking resume can help you communicate more confidently.
How to Use A Networking Resume or CV
When you’re making changes in your work life, the connections you have make a big difference. But many career changers need to expand the network they have. Maybe, like many professionals your network is limited. Are most of your contacts similar to you because you know them from your current employment or from the same industry?
So how can a networking resume or CV help? The best way to understand is to consider an example. You can adapt whatever might be useful from this scenario to your personal situation.
How to Build your Connections More Easily
Say you’re a financial professional planning to move from business to the non-profit sector. Providing evidence that you have the technical skills is straightforward. But to make a successful transition you need to demonstrate that you understand the unique challenges of the sector you want to move to. How do you do that?
The fastest way to learn is to talk to people already working in the sector. But what if you don’t have any personal connections with the right people? You can ask for a referral. It’s likely that if you talk to friends and family, someone will be able to help.
But it’s not enough just to identify who can help. Once you find someone who wants to help, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do it in a way that is effective.
At this point, it’s crucial to communicate that you are not “asking for a job.” You don’t want to put your supporters in awkward positions. For now, unless requested, it’s not appropriate to send your full resume or CV. If you do, you’re more likely to get either no response, or a “sorry, no openings” response.
But your networking resume of CV may well be useful. Since many of your personal contacts will be in different industries, their understanding of your professional work is probably limited. If you provide them with a one-page snapshot, they are in a better position to make a good referral. A quick scan of your document gives them enough information to introduce you. They also have the option of forwarding this to their contact.
Can’t I Just Use LinkedIn (or similar)?
LinkedIn or your other social media profiles may be an alternative. But the advantage of a networking resume or CV is that it’s customized. You can quickly change the content to prioritize what is of most interest to a known audience.
In contrast, your public LinkedIn profile is available for everyone to read. If you’re targeting more than one narrow audience, it may not make sense to be as focused as you can be in a customized document.
In addition, a one-page document may just be what you need to differentiate yourself. You can assume that your competitors will also have LinkedIn profiles. If you are meeting in person, in a context where conversations are short, a one-page document can be a helpful way of following up an introductory conversation.
As with all career communication, the context matters. It’s important to use your judgment as to what is the best tool for your particular circumstances. A networking resume or CV is one tool that’s worth considering, especially if you are a career changer who wants to expand your network and find out more about potential opportunities for the next phase of your work-life.
Jennifer Bradley helps professionals get unstuck and move forward in their career and work life. She offers individual coaching and consulting, leads workshops, and writes about personal and professional transitions.