Throughout most of our lives, the résumé has been a fairly standard document. Job seekers prepare prospective employers a few sheets of paper summarizing their work goals, qualifications for the job in question, previous employers and perhaps a few positive references. Home computers becoming the norm did little to change the basic format and structure of most résumés, although programs like Microsoft Word provided ready-made templates to spruce up same old résumé. However, many of today’s résumés are of an entirely new breed. Web 2.0 has driven a sea of change in the way résumés are thought about, created and viewed by employers. Today, we’ll explore several ways in which today’s job searchers are supplementing their traditional résumés.
Prior to the mid-late 2000′s, the résumé was thought of and treated as a static document. They were created once and then left alone until they were needed again in the future. This is captured in the well-worn phrase “getting your résumé in order” – usually expressed when someone is about to leave their current job. LinkedIn.com has done more than perhaps any other service to change this. By joining LinkedIn, users can create “living résumés” that get updated on a regular basis and are viewable simultaneously to every prospective employer who also belongs to the service. While the look and feel of a LinkedIn résumé is not dramatically different than what you would expect, the true difference is the social aspect. Partners, colleagues and previous employers can attach references to your online résumé directly through LinkedIn. In many cases, your references will themselves have LinkedIn profiles which enables employers to get a better sense of their credibility too. More broadly, LinkedIn makes public your entire circle of contacts, connections and colleagues to any LinkedIn member that wishes to see it. This allows any interested professionals to get a quick read on the types of people with whom you associate. It also adds credibility to the claims made in your résumé. Someone claiming to have graduated summa cum laude from Yale, for instance, likely has friends and colleagues from that university, which LinkedIn will make obvious to anyone who cares to check.
Another key contribution LinkedIn and similar services have made to résumés is convenience. Previously, it was necessary to print out or e-mail copies of your résumé individually to each prospective employer to evaluate. Ambitious job searchers, during these times, frequently found themselves running off dozens of copies of the exact same résumé, which was an extremely time-consuming affair. Today, however, online résumés like those found on LinkedIn are completely portable. All any employer needs to do is join the service (though they likely already belong) and search for you by name. And should any aspect of your work history change, there is no need to manually update everyone who has your résumé. Updating it once ensures that anyone looking at it thereafter will see the latest and freshest copy.
An even more radical way that new job searchers are supplementing traditional résumés is by using video. In a 2007 article, Time Magazine explained that video résumés were no longer mere comical fodder for Hollywood, but were in fact being used successfully by job searchers of “The YouTube Generation.” While various dedicated video resume sharing services exist, the bulk of job seekers opted to simply record and post videos for free on websites like YouTube and Vimeo. In February of 2007, Time reported that there were “already 1,590 entries listed under résumé.” By now, in April 2010, that number has skyrocketed to over 14,000 on YouTube alone. Because video allows a job searcher to be far more personally expressive than a piece of paper (or even LinkedIn), video resumes are as varied as they are popular. Some use their video resume to affect a professional and serious demeanor in hopes of convincing employers that they are worth hiring. Others use the opportunity to inject wit or humor into their resumes, perhaps to show employers their human side. And some video resumes are nothing short of asinine, as ResumeBear.com reveals in its 2009 article 10 of the Worst Video Resumes & What Makes Them Ineffective. One featured example includes a man who “divulges unnecessary facts about himself, such as his enjoyment of candlelit dinners and kung fu.” Another job seeker opted “to sing her resume to the viewer as a spoof of a Miley Cyrus song”, while still another admits “he got fired from his last job for tax evasion” while also sharing with employers “that he was really popular in college and got laid a lot.”
Such ridiculous examples notwithstanding, video résumés have made a dramatic difference in the job interview and hiring process. For all the benefits of regular paper résumés, their rigid standardization paints all job seekers with a broad brush. Those who found it difficult to distinguish themselves using the “same old résumés” as the rest of the herd have been given new life by video résumés in which they can truly express their unique workplace strengths.
Personal Website Résumés
Some of today’s job searchers opt to maintain a dynamically updated résumé on their personal website. Rather than joining a service like LinkedIn, web-inclined job seekers can simply create a public résumé on their own website, which is then distributed to employers during the job interview process. Today’s HR departments routinely get résumés in the form of web links to an applicant’s own website and it is not at all inappropriate to maintain a résumé in this manner. Truly creative job seekers often find ways to combine a video résumé with supporting text on their websites. For instance, a brief video might appear at the top of one’s résumé page to offer a personal introduction. Another approach is to post a lengthier video résumé in which the applicant refers viewers to text on the same page for further clarification (such as when discussing references or past projects at work in the video.)
The personal website résumé is ideal for job seekers who proactively seek out specific employers and approach them directly. A drawback of this approach, however, is that it may not be as easy for employers to find you as it would be on LinkedIn, where companies can search for various job attributes and automatically find workers who possess them. About the only way employers would find a personal website résumé would be if Google or Yahoo! displayed it as a search result for one of their queries, which is far from a sure thing. Nevertheless, thousands of today’s job seekers are using website résumés to great effect.
The résumé has changed so much in the last 5-10 years that one can only wonder what they will look like in the future. Of course, no one can be certain exactly what résumés will look like in 10-20 years, but recent trends suggest some likely outcomes. For one thing, the standard paper résumé figures to become ever-increasingly obsolete. It also seems likely that mobile phones will play a larger role in job interviews and hiring. LinkedIn, for instance, already offers mobile versions of its service for the iPhone and other devices. Above all, one thing is clear: after decades of staying relatively the same, résumés are changing in a big way.