Category Archives: Talent Management

Resume As a Tool of Reflection

A resume is clearly a job search tool. It is one of your strongest weapons to land an interview, which may ultimately get you a job. But the reality is most jobs, about 65%-85%, are found through your networks. Your unsolicited resume may quite likely end up in a pile that doesn’t get a second look.

I learned this when I was first looking for a job. A prospective employer, to which I sent a resume, did not call me for an interview. Four months later, a friend told me there is an open position, the same one I applied for months ago and asked me whether I would be interested. Naively, I told her that there is no point because they already passed me over. I didn’t see why this time would be different with no real change in my resume. How naïve of me! My friend insisted, and I immediately got the interview.

In most cases, neither networks, nor resumes are enough to get hired. Either one can get you the interview but then you have to show up and get the job. This doesn’t mean that your resume is useless. Your network can get you an interview, but you need to back it up with what you have done. But if your network does a good job of replacing your resume as the path to the interview, what is the point of even having one?

For starters, you would still have a resume for formal application purposes. But the real strength of the resume is that it is an honest mirror that tells you what you have done and where you have gaps. As such, writing/polishing your resume is a moment of reflection. As any prospective employee who sat down to write/polish a resume knows very well, it is a moment of truth. You probably tracked your year-to-year accomplishments mentally or through formal end-of-year processes with your employer, but chances are you have not taken stock of the last three or five years holistically. A resume allows you to do just that. It will bluntly tell you that some of your accomplishments are not easily quantifiable. In an academic job market, your resume (or CV) will slap you in the face and will cruelly remind you that you don’t have any publications. The resumes are also quite honest when it comes to gaps and you will ask yourself the question “How will I explain that 8-month period when I sat on my hands?” Alternatively it may remind you that you have been stuck at the same position for four years with no real chance of advancement in the near future.

Not all is bad. If you are honest with yourself, you can use the process as a motivator, take the reflection in and draw a career plan. You can define actions. You can develop strategies. The resume itself may not always land you the interview you want, but the process of writing, or even cleaning up your resume may re-define your career. Chances are by doing this regularly, you may become so successful, you may never need a resume again!

3 Resume Trends You Need to Watch

The resume is not dead. It is just growing up and changing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I expect a Resume 2.0 movement where some creative formats will emerge and there will be a format war. The world still needs standardization, but the new standard will look a bit different than what we have today.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well, there are three important trends that are leading to a perfect storm. Once the storm gathers enough power, some innovators will respond to the demand. As it is standard in a format war, for a few years it will not be obvious what the new format is, but eventually a winner will emerge and monopolize the market. This new resume will certainly reside online, and its creator may make some decent money if he or she can wrap a sustainable business model around it.

What are these trends? Let’s dive in:

Recruitment Trends and the Importance of Having an Online Resume

We slightly touched on this before. The May 2013 issue of the Inc. Magazine reported that a staggering 98 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to find employees. Even Twitter and Facebook clocked in at 42% and 33%, respectively, according to Inc.

LinkedIn’s surge is understandable. After all, it was built for this specific purpose. But I don’t think many people were expecting that the new resume could be 140 characters.

Whether any of these formats, including LinkedIn will emerge as the winner in the resume war is unclear. One thing is certain though. Recruitment is shifting online and even tools that were designed for other purposes could turn to contenders.

Alternative formats gaining

While the resume is not becoming obsolete, creative solutions are emerging. The first video resume I have seen was that of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, which landed her on Harvard Law. In this day and age where a video culture dominates, the idea doesn’t certainly look ridiculous anymore. Even in academia, Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution predicted that most researchers will have a 5-minute video that goes with each paper. A natural extension of that idea is for them to have a video resume as well.

Other creative formats are also on the rise. A popular debate these days is whether some of these approaches would work only in creative fields. Nevertheless, it is clear that people are not afraid to experiment and see what works.

There are quite a few players in the visual resume niche. Revu, Vizualize and Kinzaa are examples. Revu and Vizualize gave me the impression that they are using graphics for the sake of using graphics. Kinzaa is probably the best of the bunch. It is more of a blend between the traditional resume and visuals and at least gives the recruiter the opportunity of a quick skim or a deep dive.

Are these good attempts? Absolutely, and check them out. Will any of these companies stand out and have a claim on resume 2.0? No, I don’t think so. At the end of the day, these are not radical departures from the current resume, just a bit more visual. These companies are more likely to go sideways. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a good exit, all I’m saying is I don’t think they will become household names. One option is to expand like Orange, which started as a creative resume service and has since ventured into other areas, such as web design.

Online hub to all your things

We people are everywhere, from an online standpoint that is. We write blogs. We leave comments on others’ blogs. Most of us have a Facebook and LinkedIn account, probably a Twitter account as well. We review things on Yelp, Amazon and Trip Advisor. Where is the one page that describes and tracks that all and tell the world who we are? Outside some creative domains like photography, academia or publishing, I still don’t see a whole lot of personal webpages, or an online hub that summarizes and tracks all of this activity.

This is somewhat changing and online hubs are getting some traction. Two examples are About Me and Flavors Me. An About Me example is here.

These two sites are quite similar and are generally coupled together in relevant conversations. There are some good ideas here, such as gathering your online activities in one place. With a single click I can view the person’s blog or Linked-in profile. I haven’t registered but I assume creating a web page is very easy. Still, these products are not a whole lot more than a glorified personal web page.

About Me did a Beta for a few months back in 2010, collected 400,000 users in short order, and raised $425,000 in venture capital. It then went live and sold itself to AOL after only four days. The purchase price was rumored to be in the tens of millions of dollars and less than 50 million dollars, and another source pegged it at approximately $25 million. I doubt it was ever a good fit for AOL. In fact, Tony Conrad bought it back from AOL earlier this year at a fraction of the original sales price.

It took me some more time to find a buyer, but in 2012, the UK business card upstart Moo acquired all its assets including 500,000 users.

If one looks a bit further in other corners of the web, there are some other players such as Zerply, Dooid, Follr, and Resumatic. All these sites appear to be operational but I am not sure how much traffic they attract.


There are important lessons in each of these trends. The modern resume will live online, will probably be a bit more visual, and will be connected to an online hub. What is left is to consolidate those pieces in a meaningful way and create a sustainable business model around it.

Is the Resume Becoming Obsolete

In One World Schoolhouse, Khan questions the future of transcripts and credentials. A related thought is the future of the resume. What is happening to the resume? Is it losing steam? Does it have a place in this new world where college becomes, in Khan’s terms, optional?

Quite a few people are harboring these thoughts. One of the fresh ideas Gary Vaynerchuk brought to the table in Crush It was is the future of the resume. He claimed that the resume will become extinct. He said it quite colorfully, too: “Tell me this: Is it a pdf of a tidy list of where you’ve worked and for how long, with a couple of strategic bullet points highlighting what you did in each job? Yeah. You’re toast.”

Yes and no. It is probably true that more people are taking risks with their resumes. See these creative examples (My favorite is this one.) It is also true that the resume is becoming somewhat less relevant because the instinct becomes just googling someone and see what comes up. A LinkedIn profile can be a good online resume (and more) and I saw an interesting statistics on the May 2013 issue of the Inc. Magazine – a staggering 98 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to find employees. Even Twitter and Facebook clocked in at 42% and 33%, respectively, according to Inc. Twitter had indeed some success in some sectors. Bear in mind that these sites, unlike LinkedIn, were definitely not created for job hunting purposes. Overall, this is perhaps not surprising. Online presence became an important asset and will be even bigger in the future. Still, the numbers tell an interesting story.

Let’s take a step back though. What is a resume? It is a standardized tool that helps recruiters to evaluate candidates and make hiring decisions. When a standardized tool loses steam, it doesn’t completely go bust, rather it just changes form. The industry still needs a standardized tool. The creative resume examples above may land you a job, especially in certain fields, but I don’t really see that all of a sudden that everybody tosses the traditional resume in favor of an artsy one. After all, you are not Lady Gaga trying to sell albums. You may be in accounting. Therefore, creative resumes will continue to be an interesting niche, but they are unlikely to work as a standardized tool.

At the same time I don’t think we will find ourselves in a world without resumes anytime soon, either. Instead, the resume of the future will look a little different. It is not obvious what it will look like, but it will be a modern, still standard tool that reflects the power of the web and people’s activities thereon. What I expect is kind of a standard war similar to Betamax vs. VHS in video tapes in late 1970s and 1980s or Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD a few years ago.

Can LinkedIn be that standardized solution? It is clearly popular and its HR solution is growing really fast. I still think that the primary purpose of LinkedIn is networking and not a resume repository. For the most part, the Linkedin resume is an online version of the traditional resume. The company’s power comes not from the resume but from its audience. LinkedIn will continue to be a force to reckon with, but I don’t think the future of the resume is a LinkedIn profile.

There are some other decent efforts in the marketplace. Beyond Credentials is an example. The site allows its users to create online profiles that the HR managers can review. The site dubs itself as a Generation Y play though and is limited to 3.0+ GPA students from the top colleges in the U.S. That may work as a niche, but this does not seem to be an effort that will create tectonic shifts in the resume 2.0 movement. First, the site is really not for people with work experience, which is the majority of the job market. Second, even within the universe of college students, you have to come from a certain school and have a 3.0 GPA. Beyond Credentials is really not looking to change the game, only to separate the cream of the crop and give them an alternative platform. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and many other successful people wouldn’t even have a voice here. You can argue that the site is not for entrepreneurs, but my point is that by simply making the already artificial filters of the real world stricter, you can’t really change the game. If the world moves in a direction where the credentialing job is unbundled from the university, the resumes of the well-credentialed high achievers will become more irrelevant over time.

All in all, I don’t think anyone has figured this out yet but I know a lot of people are looking for the next big play. It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds.