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.

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