A well-placed woman, "Jane," who saw me speak on a panel began the process of offering me a job. To put me in touch with her boss, Jane asked for my resume.

I told her I preferred not to send it.

Why did I decline?

The role would complement my personal projects and had autonomy, leadership, and the opportunity to grow. My resume looks great and fit the role.

The problem with resumes

I avoid sending resumes because people don't approve resumes. People reject them.

At best a resume can get you an interview.

If you can get an interview any other way, get it one of those ways. Then you don't need the resume.

They are a relic of the past, when we didn't have dozens of ways of communicating.

Employers use resumes to categorize. You become a commodity, devoid of your personality and unique value. You're lucky if they categorize you into what they want.

80% of success is showing up.

In person you can talk, which you can do before, during, and after an interview. Talking in-person creates a dialog to learn what they want and tell them your relevant background and skills.

What to do instead of sending the resume​

Again: If you can get an interview any other way, get it one of those ways. Then you don't need the resume.

Develop your skills to talk more in-person.

In my case, I led Jane to email a personal recommendation instead of my resume. Jane's boss got a personal message from someone she knew--in fact, someone she hired--instead of an impersonal resume from someone she didn't.

How did I lead Jane to send the recommendation? I said to her, "This may sound unusual, but I only send resumes to jobs I don't care about."

Then I told her my reasoning. She told me she hadn't applied for a job in years and didn't update hers either.

In other words, I spoke to her. I created more dialog. She learned more about me. We connected meaningfully, which led her to send a more vibrant recommendation to her boss.

Her boss asked for my resume when we spoke on the phone, which I declined to send, but we still scheduled an in-person interview, which was all I wanted. Jane's referral counted for more than enough.

Jane's boss's assistant also asked me for the resume (they were persistant!). The interview was already scheduled, so I risked sending it, feeling I was risking the opportunity, but less than not sending it after they asked three times.

I got the offer and took the position. I don't think the resume made a difference. It could have hurt but I got lucky and it didn't.

When to send resumes

Sending resumes for cattle-call positions makes sense, like a free lottery ticket, as long as you don't spend much time on it or invest too much hope.

But for jobs you care about, building relationships and getting in-person interviews without a resume gets you a human interaction they can say yes to.

Another time I used a resume to filter an employer. I wanted to volunteer at a non-profit. When I interviewed, they told me they needed leadership work and would value my training.

They then told me about how mismanaged they were. Now, no matter how much I loved the project they were working on, I've learned "people join good projects and leave bad management."

I didn't want poor management to squash my enthusiasm for something I cared enough about I would volunteer for. So I sent my resume. If they valued what I offered and were well-managed, I'd expect to heard from them. If not, I didn't want to volunteer.

I never heard from them, which I chalked to mismanagement, and put my time to better use.