No More Resumes?

On 02/07/2012, in Cover Letters & Resumes, Finding a Job, by Jordan Wilson

Is the resume, or curriculum vitae (CV), and cover letter becoming obsolete?

It seems some firms are using other methods to assess job applicants.

This shift in the hiring process is interesting in a few ways. 

No More Resumes

The Wall Street Journal’s “No More Resumes, Some Firms Say” looks at companies that do not rely solely on resumes and cover letters when evaluating applicants.

Rather than submit resumes, these companies request:

applicants to send links representing their “Web presence,” such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog. Applicants also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position.

Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job.

Online quizzes and surveys are created where:

Questions are tailored to the position. A current opening for an Adobe Illustrator expert asks applicants about their skills, but also asks questions such as “What is your ideal dream job?” and “What is the best job you’ve ever had?” Applicants have the option to attach a résumé, but it isn’t required.

Or Creatively Reviewed Resumes

Some companies still request resumes, but review them in non-traditional fashion.

Google has an army of “hundreds” of recruiters who actually read every one …But Dr. Carlisle says he reads résumés in an unusual way: from the bottom up.

Candidates’ early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture

This runs to counter to conventional resume submission advice. Namely that you keep your curriculum vitae at two pages and winnow out irrelevant information.

My Thoughts?

Companies want to find the best candidate for an open position.

Traditionally a two page resume and cover letter is used to demonstrate your skill sets and experience to prospective employers. But in this age of technology and social media, there may be other methods to show your talents.

If you read the linked article, you will see a correlation between the industry in which the company operates or its required skill sets and the evaluation process.

Match Your Submission With the Job and Company

If I am hiring an investment analyst or accountant, I want to know that they are technically competent. Whether they can put together an impressive website or create a video about their life is not that relevant.

However, if I am hiring for a spot in the Information Technology (IT) group, it would add value to see a sample of their skills. The same with hiring a marketer where creativity and the ability to put together presentations is crucial to the position. Viewing a video they have prepared may tell me more about their talent than I can glean from a standard resume.

Tailor your submission to reflect the job opening, company, and industry. If a video can better demonstrate your skills than a resume, feel free to go that route. Just make sure you know your audience and what they will find acceptable.

I would also add that if you are applying as Chief Accountant for an internet company, then you are in two worlds. The company wants someone with strong accounting skills. But you will have an edge in the hiring process if you show that you understand the industry.

Many back office functions (human resources, accounting, IT, etc.) require close interaction with the business. If you know how to build a website, you may better understand  the company’s operations than someone who does not.

That same thought applies to any industry. Developing industry specific knowledge enhances your marketability in any company regardless the job function. And adding general business expertise if you are in a technical role will also improve marketability.

Watch Your Online Presence

An online presence may be important in other ways.

Consider salespeople. What is their LinkedIn profile? What groups are they associated with on Facebook? How many contacts do they have? What networks are they a part of?

Companies want to see your potential to bring new clients to the company. A strong positive presence is beneficial. A hidden presence may indicate a lack of networking ability and thus indicate weak salesmanship.

As public representatives of your company, will their online presence reflect positively on your company?

This is why most companies will assess your online presence. Regardless the function.

Know what the company will find when they search your name. Clean up, to the extent possible, your online presence. Improve or develop areas that are relevant to the job.

Bottom-Up Resume Reviews

As for expanding a traditional resume to include every scrap of data from your life (in the hope that something catches the reviewer’s eye), I disagree with that approach. And, to be fair to Google, I do not think that is what they want in a resume.

What applicants should do is create a master resume that does include every scrap of skills, experiences, hobbies, memberships, achievements, etc.

Then that resume should be specifically tailored to each employment application.

Perhaps you are applying as chief accountant at a trucking company. It may make sense to include on your resume that you put yourself through university by working in a warehouse, unloading semis each day.

Regardless The Requested Submission Format

Regardless the required submission format, the keys are all the same.

Keep the resume relatively brief (i.e., two pages) and tightly focussed. Same with cover letter.

Or if submitting in an alternate format – video, questionnaire, online quiz – keep on point. Maybe things are more creative, but the focal point is the same as with a standard resume and cover letter. Demonstrating that you are the best fit for the open position.

The job advertisement is your exam question. Be clear on the stated job requirements. And understand the unrequested requirements that are associated with most positions.

Include the relevant prominently and downplay or delete the irrelevant. Everything must be aimed at that particular job. What might be relevant for one opening, may not be for the next.

Then draft your submission to address each requirement.

Do not make the reviewer search for information. Reviewers do not like to guess or spend time poring through a submission for data. Instead, they will move on to the next application.

Lay it out clearly in the resume, cover letter, or alternate submission format. Use language that links each job requirement with your skill or experience.

5 years accounting experience required? Do not make reviewers add up your job experience. Instead, “I possess 8 years of accounting experience working as an auditor at Public Accounting Partners, assistant Chief Accountant at Doyle Construction, and Controller at Son of Doyle Demolition.”

The specifics can be discussed in the interview. Right now, you want the reviewer to be able to tick the box on every job requirement.

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