Resumes Are Not for Networking

If you are looking for a job, do your friends and family a favor and don’t give them your resume. You definitely want their help with networking but you are making it hard for them to do so if give them a resume. The standard resume is essentially a list of  accomplishments with maybe a short objective at the top. Resumes can be effective if you get them in the right hands, but they are horrible for your network. In the right hands a resume helps you stand out relative to a list of other people who specialize in the industry, skills, etc. that you do. In contrast, your job search network just wants to connect you as quickly as possible with someone else who might hire you. That task requires a different type of document, a Personal Marketing Guide.

Guidelines to Create Your Own Personal Marketing Guide

The purpose of the Personal Marketing Guide is to introduce your professional self to your friends and family. Here are some basic components to include.

Contact Info

Put your contact information in the header just like on a resume so your friends and family can help hiring managers connect with you.

Cover Letter

On the first page start with a letter to your friend or family member. It doesn’t need to be formal. Just write a few paragraphs about your current situation so they understand what you’ve been up to and why you are looking for work. Make sure you end the letter with a request for *only* the name and phone number of appropriate hiring managers who may be interested in your skills and experience. It’s also good form to let your friend or family member know that you aren’t asking for an endorsement, just a contact. And of course thank them in advance for any help they can offer.


One caveat about using a Personal Marketing Guide is that your network may not realize that it is only for them. You probably don’t want this document in the hands of a hiring manager. I’ve found that it is best to spell this out clearly at the top of the second page. Here are the instructions I have used in the past:

PLEASE NOTE: THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT A RESUME. This document is intended to provide friends and colleagues with information to help identify the types of companies and hiring managers that I hope to connect with. My resume will be made available to hiring managers under separate cover.


In the objective section briefly describe the position(s) you are looking for. On my guide this was limited to one short sentence.

Target Market

In the target market section describe your target geographic location(s), target industries, and target organization size(s) (small, large, global, etc.).


In the overview section describe, in layman’s terms, what you do. Keep in mind that your friends or family probably don’t have any understanding of the terminology of your profession or industry so make sure you keep it jargon free. Also briefly describe your recent experience, again keeping the language clear and jargon free. This section should be a couple of paragraphs max.

Recent Positions

In this section list 3 to 4 recent positions and companies. You don’t need to provide details. Here you can use the official title as it might help your friend or family tell someone exactly what your recent titles have been and exactly where you worked. I usually limit this to title and company name.

Skills and Experience

Finally, provide a categorized bullet list of skills and experience. Each listed item should be just a couple of words. It’s okay to use jargon here if you can’t use clearer terms. My guide included lists under the following categories: project management, business, process improvement, industries, and technologies. Use categories that make sense for you.

It is okay to use jargon in the Recent Positions and Skills and Experience sections so that your friends and family can quickly answer specific questions like: Where has he/she worked before? What were his/her title/position? Does he/she have experience with …? etc.


I have used a Personal Marketing Guide for two job searches over the past 4 years and received positive feedback both times. Moreover, both times I found my new job by networking.

Your goal is to help your network identify hiring managers who may be interested in your skills and experience and to get their name and phone number. Once you have that it is your job to contact the hiring manager and send your resume.

Give the Personal Marketing Guide a try. I hope you’ll find it as useful as I did.

(I learned how to use this tool from Ed DeVries at LHH. Thanks Ed.)