Is the traditional resume a dinosaur?

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Are resumes just old fossils? Should they be replaced with videos or just LinkedIn profiles? How would your hiring process change if you did not have a two page document that summarized the candidate’s background?

The Wall Street Journal has posted a number of articles on the topic as have others. The consensus seems to be that the two page resume is not dead, but that its use as a scratch pad for the interviewer is even more important than it used to be. In addition, companies are looking for more information and one’s social media presence can be a high indicator of “fit” for certain jobs. However, this is not to say that the appearance of one’s resume is not crucial, especially if these fonts are used to create the most beautiful resume possible.

What does seem to be happening more and more is that attempts are being made to stem the flow of applications, or at least to screen them, to reduce the number to just that selection that the humans involved in the hiring can handle. This means that ATS (applicant tracking systems) screen for keywords which can sort the applicants. These can eliminate really qualified people if they don’t happen to use the keywords programmed into the ATS for that position. Other ways to pre-screen the potential applicant even before he/she submits an application is to require some task or particular piece of information. Requesting a video resume or solving a certain puzzle or going to a certain website and completing some task relevant to the job are all ways to reduce the fire hose stream of applications.

I have spoken to a candidate who said, “Just look at my LinkedIn profile and have the hiring manager get back to me if he wants to talk, but I’m not sending a resume.” It was easy for me to simply not put him forward – he was obviously not interested in my client and would not have fit into the more collegial culture that would have required a bit more interaction. He was not one of the top people in his field.

It is true that many potential candidates don’t have a fresh resume when I first talk with them – they are not currently looking and haven’t updated it for a few years. But if the role I’m presenting is interesting to them, they usually pull out the old one and update it within a week or so.

More important is the need to gather more information than is typically on the summary of job experience. “Fit” is important and, some say, even more important than having the exact experience to walk in and “hit the ground running”. So that means that the candidate’s social presence can be a huge help. Additional documents can make it easier to make a hiring decision and requesting them is a good place to start.

But be sure that you have time to review all these documents and videos and websites and Tweets and blog posts and ….

Start with a clear, well-written job description and review the resume – the job experience summary.

Be sure that whoever (or whatever) is reviewing the resumes knows all of the synonyms for all of the keywords.

Ask for additional documents as are appropriate for the job – deal sheet for sales and business development people, sample of work for graphic designers, publications and patents for researchers, etc. There are even ways to ask for samples of “attention to detail” for admins and assistants.

Don’t screen for things that don’t have to do with qualifications for that particular job until you are about to hire a particular person. Follow the EDD guidelines.

And recognize that the people who come to the company through employee referrals already know more about the company than the company knows about them. It may well be that making them apply through the ATS will only stop a highly qualified person from being hired. Remember that computers are only machines and ATS software is only as good as its programming.


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