Thinking Beyond the Traditional Resume

death_traditional_resumeIt wasn’t long ago that job seekers would sink huge amounts of time and effort into polishing a resume. If they didn’t have the time or energy themselves, or if they didn’t have the verbal skills, they would spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on getting a consultant to write the resume for them.

Resumes were generally conservative, precise, staid, stuffed with carefully-selected keywords based on what they heard was working lately with the same obsessiveness and empirical rigor that fly-fishermen select lures based on what they heard the fish were biting last weekend.

They were unreliable: 58 percent of hiring managers reported catching a lie on an applicant’s resume. In the financial services and leisure and hospitality industries, the number of hiring managers who have discovered outright lies on applicant resumes is over 70 percent. According to the HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report, 86 percent of hiring managers surveyed reported they had uncovered lies on an applicant’s resume.

Worse, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 53 percent of resumes contain lies. According to a more recent survey by Acxiom, that figure is as high as 80 percent.

There are even websites and people selling books that claim to teach you how to lie on your resume to get hired, and even help you create a fake website for your fictional company, crank out a fake diploma, and provide fake references for you for a fee. And no, I’m not linking to them.

Put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes: You’d be an idiot to put too much trust in them.

Resumes haven’t gone away, and you still want to put your ‘best foot forward,’ of course. If you’re applying for a position that requires substantial attention to detail (and what position doesn’t?), it won’t do to have embarrassing typos on your resume.

But the resume is increasingly going to be the last thing employers turn to – and even then, only after they’ve already made the decision they are interested in hiring you. Until that point, they se resumes more to screen people out than to screen people in.

In the meantime, it’s increasingly your online presence and reputation that will determine how employers view you – and your resume posted online is just a fraction of that effort.

Enter the ‘Passive Job Seeker’

The passive job seekers aren’t the ones constantly pushing their resumes out there and going to job fairs. They’re the ones who simply maintain a consistent online presence and personal ‘brand’ via social media, blogging platforms, and by constantly highlighting the good work they’re doing.

These people don’t have to go chasing jobs: They have a steady trickle of executive headhunters, HR execs, hiring managers and entrepreneurs contacting them. Why? Because it’s easy to check them out online, their online portfolios, blog postings and other personal branding efforts speak for themselves.

Social Media Is Increasingly Your Resume

LinkedIn is king, still, among social media profile sites, when it comes to professional background checking – and naturally your resume should be consistent with your LinkedIn profile. Facebook is running a close second. Not too many companies check out prospective employees on Twitter or Google+ but they’re out there, according to the HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report.

Online Portfolios

What kind of online portfolio do you have? Graphic artists and designers, of course, would link to or provide images to their own work that a curious potential employer can access in seconds. (For best results, also include a link to a page that’s tough to fake, such as your work as it appears on the website of a company that’s easy to check out and tough for you to manipulate).

The Virtual Resume

The standard LinkedIn profile, though, is just the beginning. Virtual resumes are primarily online digital resumes that leverage infographics, design and even multimedia technology to paint a picture of you, the prospective applicant.

There are a number of vendors already carving out their niche in the virtual resume consulting and design market. Options include CarbonMade, OPResume, Shown’d, Purzue, and VisualCV. Each of these vendors has different features and capabilities, but generally they enable you to manage online portfolios of creative work and will support a ready link to social media site profiles like LinkedIn. You can usually also embed images, audiofiles, video, and links to whatever creative, publishing or other online content you’ve been involved in.

And if you’re handy with the Adobe Creative Suite and maybe a blogging or Website platform like WordPress, you can take the opportunity to show off your creative and design chops right on the resume itself.

There’s no limit to how creative you can be. There are, however, some limits to how much video content or A/V content any hiring manager is going to put up with when screening resumes for qualified candidates, so keep them short.

One of the nice things about resumes that are connected to professional and social media sites like LinkedIn is that they are tough to fake. People who’ve been around an industry for while tend to know people, both in town and out, and the social media aspect makes it easy for them to pull some threads from a digital resume to see if the whole sweater unravels.

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