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The Resume is Dead – Again

Employers and job seekers have long relied upon the resume as a standard communication tool in the job search process, but in the past couple of weeks several articles denouncing the traditional resume caught my eye. In one example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Union Square Ventures, "asked applicants to send links representing their 'web presence,' such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog. Applicants also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position" in a recent search for an investment analyst. Christina Cacioppo from Union Square Ventures noted that they "are most interested in what people are like, what they are like to work with, how they think," which may be easier to assess though social profiles than with a single document. Preferences for the traditional, text-based resume are losing ground in favor of web presence and interactive job seeker presentations. This is certainly not the first time we've heard this, but the message seems to be getting a little louder.


Considering New Alternatives


While digital formats may be the way of the future for resumes, there are new options available as you and the human resources industry make the transition from print to online. From infographics and multimedia presentations to interactive interfaces and readable codes, there are more ways than ever to demonstrate your potential and document your achievements.

  • Web 2.0 Tools: A recent post from educator Billy Meinke illustrates how the features of a web-based presentation tool, specifically Prezi, can be leveraged to develop your own virtual resume. These tools are often free to use and allow for quick development and online posting.
  • Themes and Templates: Consider a web-based version of your resume using one of the many templates available. These downloads make it relatively easy to create and maintain an online resume on your own website. Blog platforms offer another option and a range of existing themes, many of which are appropriate for professional, job seeker presentations. You might even want to set up an account on a site like VisualCV, specifically designed and developed for resume building purposes.
  • QR Codes: Career advisor Lindsey Pollak provides direction for those interested in adding a "quick response" QR bar code to their resumes. These codes are popular marketing tools and fairly simple to create and add to a text document. By scanning these codes, with a smartphone app or other device, readers are led to additional information about you, such as your personal website, ePortfolio, or an online profile. 

Career coach Cindy Kraft makes several excellent points about the emerging use of web presence to evaluate an applicant's "fit" with an organization in her recent post "The Resume Evolution." Among Kraft's advice you'll find that having an active web presence could be interpreted as "embracing change" and "creating visibility around subject matter." Your active and professional presence online may help employers to view your skills and potential in different ways, as well as see that you have experience with web-based tools, networks, and communication.* credits the recession as a catalyst for some of these trends, emphasizing that social media and networking are now more critical to the job search process than they were pre-recession. As human resources departments have been downsized and social media use in general has increased, employers are looking for ways to quickly and efficiently screen applicants. Networking opportunities, both online and in-person, are also increasingly popular and allow you to make more connections. The old saying that "it's who you know" still applies and can be the best way to get your skills and qualifications in front of a prospective employer. 


Covering the Bases


Not all employers have made the move to non-traditional resume formats and recruiting methods. While you may be less likely to actually print a hard copy of your resume and mail it to a human resources manager today, a digital document is still the norm for many companies, both requested through online application systems and expected at in-person meetings, such as interviews and job fairs. This doesn't mean that these companies won't also search for your online presence, however, as a way to learn more about you.

The current recruiting environment requires that you manage both web presence and traditional resume with the job search in mind. You may want to consider your resume, which is more than likely in a digital format, as a part of your web presence if it is posted on your personal website or as part of a social networking profile. It is up to you to monitor your online identity and take control of the information that is available about you – information that might emerge in an Internet search and could be used to help you demonstrate your capabilities to an employer. Whether or not you are currently in the midst of a job search or career change, review your profiles and resume regularly and keep them up-to-date.

The goal of traditional and non-traditional approaches are the same, it's the technology and methodology that are changing. From the job seekers perspective, it's essential to convey your skills and qualifications as clearly as possible to a prospective employer. From the employer's perspective, efficient screening of applicants and selection of candidates is a high priority. As many industries adapt to greater use of technologies, so goes human resources. We may be in the early stages of what will eventually transition to a fully online and web-based transaction, but until that time it is important to ensure that you are meeting the needs and expectations of the employers you are targeting throughout the process.

*updated 2/7/12