Death of the Resume?

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rip-gravestone-hiTo paraphrase Mark Twain, recent reports that the resume is “dead” may have been greatly exaggerated. In a world of increasingly short attention spans of both recruiters and candidates, a resume may seem archaic – and those used to texting, tweeting, and Google searching may wonder why bother putting time into develop, or read, a resume?

Here are two good reasons:

1. Resumes can tell a story. Talent Acquisition software and some social media has allowed amassing of large candidate pools, and “flattened” the candidate to a sum of keywords and education. Critical application data can be input into an ATS, but then there is a missed opportunity for the candidate to frame their skills and work history in a compelling way to land the job they really want. Once initial qualifications are established, a concise, fluid resume is an important resource. A resume reviewer should be able to follow common threads throughout the candidate’s experiences, and be able to envision them fulfilling the job at hand.

Good resumes tell enough of a story to gain interest – but they are a teaser, not a closer. As a hobby, I write and conduct tours of historic sites. With deep knowledge on a topic, a tour guide can be tempted to share every minute detail about a person or event – a sure way to lose the audience, as they struggle to absorb a myriad of facts about something they weren’t familiar with 10 minutes before, and aren’t yet sure they are interested in. The goal instead becomes to present a few key points in a way that informs, and elicits interest, and encourages participants to ask questions for deeper understanding. That is the role of the resume, which benefits both recruiter and candidate.

2. Resumes can share aspirations. When I was recruiting and was asked for tips on building a resume, my first (selfish) thought was, “Tell me what you want to do!” That is, give me a next-step career objective. It is time-consuming and at times difficult for recruiters to cull through a resume to figure out what a candidate is capable of, or which open req they may fill…and direction the candidate wants to take their career may still be elusive.

Also, in looking at career progressions, a key part is “progress”. Not many candidates want to move to a new employer, only to do the same job. An experienced candidate should have given thought to their career direction, and how to communicate that within the resume. The act of creating a concise resume forces decisions on what to include, what to highlight or downplay, and what the ideal next role would be.

The ways that companies and candidates initially come to one another’s attention now has changed drastically. Perhaps the resume isn’t the introduction/first step as it was in the past, yet it is still a valuable tool for the candidates to communicate their potential to recruiters. And companies should be recruiting talent and “potential”, not just a candidate’s history.



Sally Millick

Sally brings a unique holistic view to helping clients achieve their goals in Talent Management. Her career spans positions in talent acquisition/RPO management, HR technology implementations and optimizations, technology and contingent labor vendor management, competency and selection processes, global mobility and consulting operations. She is successful at defining high-level talent management processes, technologies, and change management strategies; tactical plans to achieve these strategies; and hands-on client delivery. With over 20 years of experience in the talent management field, she has served large clients in the Pharmaceutical, Financial, Defense, and other industries.

Topics: HR Technology, Talent Acquisition