Why the Resume is an Endangered Species

Resumes are slowing losing their grip

As a professional resume writer, I don’t like to admit this, but the resume is going the way of gray suit, the fax machine, and the generous pension plan. No, the resume isn’t in danger of immediate extinction. But it is certainly endangered.

Why the Resume is an Endangered Species

Resumes are a relic of a traditional employment recruiting process in which employers needed a standard way of comparing numerous prospects for open job positions sight unseen. By reviewing a short summary of qualifications and work history, employers could weed out the unqualified candidates and find the most qualified ones.

However, today’s job candidates aren’t necessarily “sight unseen” at all. They’re everywhere. Employers don’t passively wait for job candidates to send resumes; they “see” prospective candidates on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media before you set foot in the reception area.

Isn’t having an e-resume and Web site enough? Five or ten years ago, uploading your resume as a Word file, PDF, or HTML page to the World Wide Web was considered state-of-the-art. However, today, it’s expected. not exceptional.

In the job search process of today, online self-marketing in the form of LinkedIn profiles, blogs, social resumes, and even Twitter feeds are the new standard. If you’re serious about your career, you can benefit by staying abreast of the evolving recruiting scene with its Web 2.0 technologies (that is, social networking sites).

If you’re not convinced, think about the hiring process from the point-of-view of a recruiter in a corporate Human Resources department, staffing firm, or “headhunting” agency.

You sift through hundreds of documents for each open position, so after a while the resumes all start to look alike. Maybe your eyes glaze over as it seems that many candidates have the required degrees, years of work experience, and technical skills. Many look good on one or two pages of paper.

To decide between the better prospects, you will want to get to know them better. That’s why you check the URLs included on the resume to get a better-rounded picture of each person’s strengths and weaknesses. If the candidate has a blog, you can get a glimpse of their writing style, professionalism, and knowledge. You can look at recommendations from the candidate’s past employers on LinkedIn. You can see if they are staying abreast of industry trends with their latest tweets.

You better believe that candidates who have a sharp, authentic online identity in line with what you’re looking for stand out. While you may also contact someone who looks good in a one-page or two-page resume, your level of trust in their expertise may be significantly less than someone who has positioned themselves as a thoughtful leader in what they do.

Now think about the hiring process from the point-of-view of an organization’s hiring manager.

You may not even have a job opening approved by higher levels of management, but you are always on the lookout for new talent. To stay abreast of current happenings in your field, you are likely to read articles in trade publications and follow at least a few industry blogs (especially blogs by others in your city or geographic territory). You are likely to belong to LinkedIn groups in your area of expertise and attend face-to-face networking meetings.

You will notice if someone has an interesting contribution to a discussion that interests you. If they answer a LinkedIn question you are following, participate actively on a discussion list, or have the go-to or up-and-coming blog on the topic, you’re likely to think, “I don’t know so-and-so yet, but he or she is someone I would very much like to work with.”

The most successful professionals today want to be that so-and-so. They don’t have to sit back and hope that their resume gets picked out of a pile by an HR screener for a callback. They are constantly cultivating opportunities for taking their career to the next level by cultivating relationships with hiring managers at the companies for which they want to work.

In other words, professionals today need to pay attention to their “personal brand.” According to personal branding expert Dan Schawbel in his book Me 2.0, that’s the identity that allows you to differentiate yourself from a crowd by articulating your unique value proposition, leveraged across multiple platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal.

Because the term “personal brand” sometimes calls to mind the misconception that it’s about job seekers altering their image in order to project what employers say they want, I prefer to use the term “career marketing plan.” By helping clients to market themselves better, I encourage them to cultivate an appreciation for their unique strengths and abilities and communicate about themselves clearly and effectively.

I tell my clients that having a great resume, e-resume, and cover letter is the cornerstone of a successful career marketing plan, but they’re not the be all and end all of a career marketing plan. Having these solid documents in place is key, but to put your career marketing plan into high gear it is vital to cultivate an online identity that resonates with who you are and what you offer.

Here are the three most important steps to take now:

  1. Write a top-notch LinkedIn profile. Copying and pasting your resume into LinkedIn.com isn’t going to impress anyone. For one thing, if a recruiter found your LinkedIn profile from your resume, they want to see something new and engaging. The profile should read like a 10-minute conversation with you in which you summarize your virtues, highlight the most relevant experience, and explain why that experience is relevant to the opportunity. It’s a cross between an elevator pitch, resume, cover letter, and biography.
  2. Read all the industry blogs and independent bloggers in your field every day, and share your views on the topics about which you are most passionate. Depending on what you’re reading and how much you have to say, you may want to write a blog or start a Twitter account just devoted to your professional side. It’s not a good idea to mix your personal interests with your professional blogs, so I recommend “fencing” your online personalities that may contain information you don’t want prospective employers to see (that is, limit the people who have access to your personal musings to friends only) and taking other steps to manage your online reputation.
  3. Be sure your resume and online identity present a consistent and unified personality. You may have heard that it’s a good idea to have multiple versions of your resume tailored for different job targets; this may have been good advice 5 or 10 years ago, but today having a schizophrenic online identity is counterproductive. If you have multiple career paths in front of you, or are considering a career change, it can be particularly challenging to articulate a compelling and coherent online identity. The key is to find the theme that weaves your different fabrics and embellishments together, and then to present a seamless tapestry across the full portfolio of your career marketing documents.

Resumes are not likely to go away forever, but in the future fewer and fewer hiring decisions will be won or lost based on them. Today’s job seekers can gain a competitive advantage by taking full advantage of social media and blogs. In tomorrow’s world, job seekers will focus on managing their online identity, not just sending out resumes.

For more information about Joseph Perez, CPRW and the Writing Wolf company, visit http://www.seattleresumewriter.net For more articles about resume writing, go to http://www.CertifiedResumeWriters.com



Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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