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Is the Resumé Dead?

By:  Laura Randall Oct 17, 2013
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Katie Briggs, a graphic designer in Houston, has a variety of tools that show off her skills to potential employers: a personal website, a visual inspiration log on Tumblr, and a photo journal through Instagram. But the 2011 University of Nebraska graduate also has a more old-fashioned method of communicating her profile: a clean one-page resumé detailing basic information about her professional and educational background.

"I would say some document that summarizes your work experience, education, skills and contact information is still relatively essential to the hiring process," Briggs says.

The role of the resumé has clearly shifted in recent years. More employers and recruiters are turning to the Internet and its growing array of business and social networking venues to find prospective hires. A 2013 Jobvite survey found that 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts, and 78% have actually made hires through social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Companies now expect to know much more about you than a piece of paper can convey, says Dan Schawbel, a Gen-Y career and workplace expert and the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.

“They’re not looking for just what you’ve done in the past; they are looking for what you’re reading, what you’re thinking about, what you're writing about – today,” Schawbel says.

A Resumé’s Relevance

But the standard resumé isn’t going away anytime soon, according to hiring managers and trend watchers. It has simply become a much smaller part of a hiring and recruiting process that now uses blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other channels to source talent.

“The current thinking on the resumé is it’s still relevant and needed, but it shouldn’t be your only way of communicating your skills and capabilities and advertising yourself,” explains Kevin Shigley, Coca-Cola’s director of global talent acquisition.

Most Fortune 500 companies still require a resumé, submitted through corporate web pages or LinkedIn, at the beginning of the hiring process. Even cutting-edge startups and tech firms expect a resume as a part of the application package, notes Elli Sharef, co-founder of HireArt, a New York job-recruiting startup.

“It’s still very much a predictor of how you’ll do later on, but what we’re observing is a resume is simply not enough,” says Sharef.

At HireArt, job seekers are asked to submit a resumé, then perform a series of tasks relevant to the job they are applying for, such as web analytics or Excel knowledge. The most promising video and writing samples are then shown to potential employers along with the resumés.

“I think there is a small number [of employers] specifically not looking at resumés as a data point," Sharef says. But "for better or worse, it’s something that people still really care about.”

The resumé’s significance often surfaces during the formal interviewing process, Coca-Cola's Shigley notes. "It’s almost like a Table of Contents to a book,” he says. “It’s a tool that allows the interviewer to really probe into experiences and it can be helpful in tracking career progression and the motivation behind somebody’s moves.”

Thinking Outside the Resumé

As all types and sizes of companies become more comfortable with using social media, however, Schawbel predicts that resumés will be increasingly less common, and may even be completely replaced by online tools in the next decade.

"It’s going to take time but it’s going to eventually happen," Schawbel says. "The traditional resumé is just not going to hold up in the next decade."

Whatever happens in the job marketplace, most observers agree that an impressive resumé alone won't lead to a job offer anymore.

"If you want to be in the conversation or get calls about potential opportunities, you have to think about what your social media profile looks like and not rely on just building a web page and putting your resumé on it," Shigley points out.

“In a world of 140 characters and connections, you have to have a more crisp communication style.”