03 February 2010

The Resume - what future?

Over the summer holidays I tidied out a few cupboards and in doing so I found an old scrapbook that I started putting together about 30 years ago. It contained an array of reminders from my (mostly) forgotten youth, ranging from:

• cricket reports (‘...Clennett top scored with a fine 75')

• theatre reviews (‘...Ross Clennett gives a strong performance as a man corrupted absolutely by power')

• disapproving editorials in the local rag about me, the student politician (‘Mr Clennett is hardly a radically inspired idealist and his action is little short of mindless and childish') and

• school references (‘His quiet confidence, ability and capacity to meet a challenge make him a potentially a very valuable employee').

The scrapbook also turned up my first ever resume. At the age of 22 I confidently filled four A4 pages with academic results, sporting achievements, stints in casual employment, unpaid work experience and acting roles.

It must have worked because it was the resume that I used when I was interviewed by Accountancy Personnel in London in January 1989 which lead to my first offer of permanent employment (Permanent Consultant, Victoria office).

At that point in the development of the post-industrial world, it would have been regarded as preposterous that anybody could gain any sort of worthwhile employment without a resume.

The resume was the cornerstone of the job search process. Any applications for work were expected to be accompanied by a resume and even candidates who were in-demand enough to have search firms calling them about potential alternative roles were expected to provide a resume, even if it was out of date.

Fast forward twenty years and the resume is fast becoming an endangered species. The resume is being superceded by many things - here's a selection of them:

LinkedIn profile - LinkedIn is the professional's networking site of choice with over 50 million profiles and a growth rate of over 60,000 people per day. A LinkedIn profile is public (to anyone with a LinkedIn account) so it is far more likely (although not guaranteed) that users are truthful and accurate when posting the details of their employment history on their LI profile, compared to a resume they send to an employer privately.

Video resume - although still relatively infrequently used, a video resume allows the viewer to see and hear a candidate talk about their work history and to provide answers to common interview questions, by simply using Skype and a webcam or other portable, video-enabled devices.

Eligibility screening questions - rather than trying to interpret the qualifications and work experience on every resume, you can request candidates to answer a short (or long) list of questions that will allow you to accurately screen out ineligible candidates. Years of experience and where a candidate has worked provides only lead-up information to what the real game is - what they can actually do. You can do this via email, webpage, telephone or in person.

Suitability screening questions - once you know a candidate has the basic skills to do the job on offer you have the option of providing candidates with a list of job culture related questions that will allow you to assess how likely the candidate is to succeed in the job environment. Much better than making a guess,based on where the candidate has worked in the past, how old they are, what gender they are or where they were born, etc.

Assessment centres - already very popular for high-volume recruiting (eg call centres, Defence Force, customer service roles, flight attendants etc), assessment centres provide an opportunity to observe a candidate's actual competencies in a simulated work environment rather than rely upon well-practiced answers to predictable interview questions or vague answers from a previous employer to standard reference check questions.

Online drop-down box applications - many companies, frustrated by how difficult it is to compare resumes, request candidates to complete a standard online application form, with drop down boxes with little or no free-text entry required. This has the double benefit of easily enabling candidate comparisons as well as avoiding employer data entry or document screening chores.

Online reputation - although being tapped on the shoulder because you are ‘known' as been around as long as recruitment itself, the big difference these days is how quick and easy it is to identify candidates that are both eligible and suitable purely through their online presence. Although being quoted online, being an active blogger and commenting on other blogs is no guarantee of a person's competency, it certainly provides plenty of helpful clues. Your cyber-footprint is only going to be more important as we enter the second decade of the new century because that's where employers will go first to find out about you.

Your personal ‘brand' - Tom Peter's wrote about Brand You in his book of the same name over 10 years ago. He argued that we are now returning to the pre-industrial era where almost everybody was self-employed so resumes were not necessary. Instead, to attract a constant flow of business the best people relied upon three things:

1. Craft (being very good at a craft/trade/skill)

2. Distinction (having a clear point of difference with respect to other craftsmen)

3. Networking (pro-actively getting known in the target community).

The rise of social media, since Peters wrote the book, only demonstrates how accurate Peters is proving to be.

The traditional resume has many limitations - the two major ones being:

1. It is composed by the candidate or by a professional resume writer with information supplied by the candidate. This means there is absolutely no guarantee that the contents of the resume will be complete, relevant, or accurate.

2. The reader's interpretation of information contained or inferred in a resume is open to vast generalisations (‘oh, no, forget this candidate - they have an MBA. The last MBA we hired was a dud') and prejudices (‘this person has too much experience, they are bound to be bored').

Both of these limitations significantly increase the likelihood that the best person for the job is not correctly identified. In a skills-short labour market the cost of poor hiring decisions will rapidly escalate and with it, the case for the resume's irrelevance, due to it being a far less efficient and effective than the alternatives available to make quick and accurate decisions about a candidate .

Are you ready for a resume-free recruitment market?

It's not here yet but I suspect that when my eldest son, Guy, turns 22 in twelve years time it will be all but gone.

1 comment:

  1. Great resume of resumes!
    From a small business person perspective, I don't have an up to date resume in the traditional sense. However, I do have multiple resumes upon the web - on my website, Linked In, Facebook... It seems we all need one and I agree they're showing up in new formats.
    The video resume is a good idea too!

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