On Business: Is the résumé dead?
June 20, 2014
Rumors about the résumé's demise have resurfaced time and again. They first appeared years ago when the Internet stepped up as the "go to" place for jobs. The Internet job application procedure has left many discouraged. One unemployed worker said it like this, "Before, all it took was a hello and a handshake, now I apply online not because I want to but because I have to".
The drill is clearly established. Want a job? Sit down, log in, and apply. But then what? Efforts often vanish into cyberspace. With this technology driven process many are asking, "Why do I need a résumé? Is anybody reading it? And what about my cover letter? Does it matter? They want to know if the current system has eliminated the résumé and changed the rules altogether. I say no. The résumé is not dead; it's alive and well. But the world is ever changing and we must keep up in order to achieve our goals.
According to JobVite's social recruiting survey, 78 percent of employers used social media for hiring in 2008.
By 2013 that number increased to 94 percent. LinkedIn and Facebook are the number one sources. Let's consider a few possibilities. Using your résumé as an example, we know it changes over time with additions, deletions and even format but it's consistent in one way, it is always formal. Your LinkedIn profile, on the other hand can be a little less formal yet still shine a professional spotlight on you and highlight your accomplishments. Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn allow widespread networking opportunities since users can broadcast to a large audience at one. If you enjoy writing a website with a blog is a good choice. YouTube allows viewers to assess body language that isn't visible when viewing a paper résumé. Some of these ideas might appeal to you while others won't, but all are relevant in today's job search. Your line of work, industry and personal style will dictate the choices best for you.
That's worth repeating… quality matters. What you broadcast must be a first class representation of your best self. Forty-three percent of employers said they found reasons NOT to hire because of negative social media content. Top reasons are poor communication skills, spelling errors, drug and alcohol references and inappropriate pictures. If you don't protect your personal brand, which is synonymous with your professional reputation, social media will work against your goals, not for them.
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So think evolution, not replacement when the résumé rumor pops up again. But adapting to change has always been essential for success and upward mobility, right? It's true that all that was required before was a quality résumé coupled with a nice cover letter and some polished interviewing skills and bingo… you're hired! But no longer is that enough. With a sluggish job market and large applicant pool there's more work to be done. These components still make up the foundation of your job search but a full marketing package is today's golden ticket to your future, the cornerstone of which should be personal branding. What is personal branding you ask? It is self-marketing those unique qualities which set you apart from the crowd. These questions will help you consider your own "me program". What motivates you? What do you know? What are you known for knowing? What are your passions and values? What word describes you best? Do you have a niche?
Self-assessment is key. You might want to enlist others with whom you have worked or shared professional accomplishments, to share their insights. It's not easy to make an unbiased evaluation of your own abilities and strengths. Once you've decided on what makes you distinctive you can begin to formulate a brand message. It must be conveyed consistently and delivered to a targeted market just like any other "product."
So is the résumé dead? No. But just like everything else the job search frontier is evolving and it is not the same as it was 20 years ago. In order to stay relevant we must adapt. The résumé is a core tool that remains steady. It's a valuable asset for job seekers and the number one choice for the majority of employers. So don't toss it out yet! But do consider looking beyond the résumé for innovative ways to expose your talents. Step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.
Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.