Last week a pretty interesting resume – with the provocative title of ‘best resume ever?’ – was making the rounds of social media and it got me wondering if the traditional resume is dead? And, if it isn’t dead I further wondered if it shouldn’t actually be hurried along to the grave and how those of us on both sides of the employment table – the prospective employer and employee – can speed it along to its demise.
First of all let’s look at the resume’s history. According to this infographic from RezScore the resume is some 500 years old and Leonardo da Vinci wrote the first one. It’s only in the last 40 years that individuals have been able to put together spiffy looking resumes themselves – prior to that you would have had to pay to have something typeset and professionally printed. The content of the resume has changed significantly over the decades as well – in the middle of the 20th century it was considered ‘normal’ to include things like a photograph of yourself as well as details like your marital status and age.
The resume wasn’t originally intended with employment in mind – rather it was just a way to introduce people to one another through a ‘summary’ of your personal characteristics. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the resume became an expected part of the job application process. Since then resume content has both expanded and contracted – now including hobbies, interests and volunteer activities but not marital status, age and religion – and been presented in a variety of different ways. For example, those with ‘gapless’ employment history can use a straightforward chronological format for their resume while those who may have periods when they weren’t working can instead use a skills-based format. But what is the role of the resume in today’s job application process?
Most large Victoria employers (say with more than a few hundred employees) or those that are using a service like Monster.com to process their received applications no longer accept anything on paper but many still have a place in their application process for the resume. For example, the University of Victoria has about 4,800 employees in jobs ranging from tenured faculty to dishwashers working in the cafeteria. New non-teaching positions are posted on a website each weekday. Every job notice is accompanied by the text saying “Please note that we cannot accept paper applications.” However, the university’s proprietary online HR system allows job applicants to create a specific resume and cover letter for any posting and submit both electronically.
Other local Victoria employers like the provincial government and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) also have online systems where you create a user account and as well as submitting resumes you also complete online skills inventory questionnaires that attempts to capture your level of expertise and duration of experience with a variety of tasks (i.e. using Microsoft Office). Presumably this information is used to ‘winnow’ out applicants that do not meet criteria or perhaps it is used for ranking within a candidate pool.
So yes, for the most part it seems like you still need a ‘traditional’ resume and/or you need to have a resource that you can pull information – like skills, employment history and educational credentials – from to submit to online profile engines like Brainhunter (which is what PHSA uses). However, it seems less and less likely that you’ll be asked to print out and submit that resume the old-fashioned way.
However, many pundits online insist that if you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd you need to look at other alternatives to the traditional resume whether that’s a SlideRocket resume like the one I mentioned at the top of this article, one of these enchanting designs or by creating a resume and ‘pinning’ it up for all to see on what is being hailed as 2012’s hottest startup, Pinterest .
What do you think – do you still have printed copies of a traditional resume in your briefcase? Have you created an online ‘portfolio resume’ that showcases your accomplishments online? Would you consider paying for a Google AdSense advertisment for yourself as a way to put yourself ‘in front of’ potential employers (as Alec Brownstein did)? Please drop me a comment below or send me <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>an email</a>.